Re: The Politics of Censuses in Russia #belarus

A. S. Cohen <ascohen@...>

David Goldman wrote:
"I just glanced again at the research and was surprised that the individual
living with both MORDECHAI and his son SHMUEL ZISELMAN, Aron Abramovitch
Rashkind was listed as 40 years old in 1834 in one document, and 56 years
old in another, both called census record (revision list). Hirsha Slevitch
in one list is described as 18 in 1816, and 25 in 1834!!

Either these were errors of the census taker, or somebody was pulling
someone's leg. Can anybody shed some light on this?"

Charles Lapkoff wrote:
I too received information >from Vlad Soshnikov at RAGAS which gave two
dates of birth (1848-1853) for a relative of mine >from Surazh, Belarus.
Vlad explains it like this:

"Archival record shows very interesting case, when age of person was
determined by special commission. In the XIX century Jews were extremely
mobile and to refuse the military obligations they very often changed their
real age. According to documents at first they were very young, then after
some time they were very old to carry on military obligations. For this
purpose the special commissions were established, which determined the real
age of persons. That is why two ages were pointed out for Izrael - by
appearance and by verdict of the special commission."

I, too, have heard of the practice of changing a male's age so he wouldn't
have to go into the Czar's army. Another practice I have heard of was to
change birthdates of females to make them appear to be younger than they
really were. Sometimes, males' ages were also increased. This was done to
protect their sisters >from appearing to be too old.

On the question of age, I have been looking at the LDS microfilms of
congregational marriage and birth records >from the 1800s for Minsk. It
looks like information is contained in these records >from more than just
the local Minsk municipality. Does anyone know how often information from
the outlying shtetls was reported? Was it the practice to report births
and marriages immediately to some central authority or were there times
during the year when this information was reported? Or, given the
antipathy toward serving in the army, might births of sons, for example,
have been delayed or not reported at all?

Al Cohen

Allan S. Cohen
University of Wisconsin
Testing & Evaluation Services
1025 W. Johnson, #366 Phone: (608) 262-0419
Madison, WI 53706 FAX: (608) 263-4291

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