Re: Pre-1800 Records in Galicia #names

Mark Halpern

Dear Stan:

I am the JRI-Poland coordinator for Eastern Galicia. I have been involved with Galicia recordkeeping for over 20 years and have been giving talks about Galician records for almost 20 years including a pre-recorded lecture at this year's IAJGS Conference on Jewish Genealogy. I also give talks about doing research in the four distinct areas of Poland where different records and laws existed before WWII. 

Galician Jews were required to take German surnames by the Austrian Empire in 1788. Civil registration started in 1784, but I have not seen any Jewish records before 1789 and then only a few towns until the 1850s. I have never heard of anyone finding Galician Jewish records in the Catholic records. As you suspect, and I agree with you, the Jewish community kept birth or circumcision records, marriage records, and burial records. Some may exist, but I have never seen any of these records. Maybe the Central Archives of the History of the Jewish People in Jerusalem have some. You can check the Archives in Poland and Ukraine for Jewish Community records in the Archival Inventory at Miriam Weiner's Routes to Roots website

The Quote from Warren Blatt's Infofile is not applicable to Galicia. He is referring to the Kingdom of Poland, also referred to as Congress Poland or Russian Poland at the time In that area, Jewish vital recordkeeping started in 1826. Civil recordkeeping started in 1808. Between 1808 and 1825, Jewish vital events were to be recorded in the civil record registers maintained by the Catholic Church. Warren is referring to these records between 1808 and 1825. 

JRI-Poland has indexed pre 1826 records for some towns in Congress Poland with surnames if recorded or surnames that could be inferred by analyzing later records. 

Mark Halpern
JRI-Poland Coordinator for Eastern Galicia and the Bialystok area 

On 2022-08-17 6:02 pm, Stan Deutsch wrote:

I imagine that this question has been raised before but I haven't found the answer so I'm posting it again.


I know that Jews were required to take last names starting around 1800 and that civil registrations of births, marriages and deaths came into use at the same time.  I find it hard to imagine that births, marriages, and deaths weren't recorded before 1800 using patronymics but I've never seen any such records online.  Are there any "synagogue" records that were kept (like the church records that were kept in Germany and Sweden (where the patronymic naming system continued until 1900))? 


There's an interesting note by Warren Blatt on this question in one of the Jewishgen Infofiles (Polish-Jewish Genealogy — Questions and Answers) that says, in part:


"However, Jewish surnames do not appear until October 1821 throughout most of the Kingdom — so before that date you have to research based solely on given names and patronymics, since there were no surnames.  This type of research is done by going though all of the civil registration documents for Jews in your town (you're lucky if it's a small town), and finding couples that match your characteristics: e.g. an Aron Moszkowicz (Aron son of Moszek), of a certain age and occupation, married to a Sara Jankielowna (Sara daughter of Jankiel) — that way you've got enough clues to be sure that you've got the right family — even without a surname.  I've used this method in many towns, to trace most of my branches back to the mid-1700s."


It sounds like these records do exist but how does one locate them?


Best regards,


Stan Deutsch

Oakland, CA


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