Russian Travel Permit #russia

Karen Gramigna-Warren

My husband’s great grandfather left a couple of documents for the family.  One was pass down as his “passport” to the US.  It was from 1909/1910 and was in Russian.  I’ve had it translated and it states it was issued from the town Motolya petty bourgeois’ management.  Motol is now in Belarus.  His occupation was Shoemaker, and the document goes on to state that he is “permitted to different towns and settlements of the Russian Empire until July 5, 1910”.  It was issued on July 5, 1909.


So, my questions are:

  1. Is this just an internal permit allowing him to travel around Russia?  I assume it was due to his occupation and required because he was Jewish?
  2. I’ve tried to understand “Petty Bourgeois” and I think it was a social class between middle class and peasants?  So that fact he was a shoemaker put him in this class?
  3. He did emigrate to the US in June 1910, a month before this document would expire.


Thank you

Karen Gramigna-Warren


Sent from Mail for Windows 10



I am not an authority, but it sounds like an internal passport to me.  My great-grandfather's international passport from the late 1890s was in four languages, French, German ( if I recall correctly), English and Russian. 

I suspect that petty bourgeois meant that he had a trade, perhaps what we would call working class these days.
Barbara Sloan
Conway, SC

Phil Goldfarb

The Russian Empire Internal Passports began in the early 18th century by Peter the Great. They were used to control migration and for travel within the Empire outside of their place of residence. Not only Jews but everyone had to have one which was issued by local municipalities, town dweller administration or police officers. Depending upon class, they were issued for 6 months, 1 year or 2 years and had to be renewed. They ended with the October 1917 Russian Revolution which lifted most limitations upon internal movements of members of the laboring classes. After that time the "Russian Regulations on Employment Record Books" or Russian Labor Booklet was adopted and became the principal means of personal identification. 

I am giving a lecture at the IAJGS meeting next month (It is on tape and can be viewed at any time) titled: Passports: The History of Passports, Passport Applications, Russian/Lithuania/Latvia Internal Passports and the Nansen Passports for Refugees. I have also written two books on the subject. I will be mentoring at the IAJGS meeting on Tuesday, August 3 from 10:00 am EST to 12:00 pm EST

Phil Goldfarb
President, JGS of Tulsa