The area now known as Lithuania was part of the Russian Empire from the late 1700¹s until World War I. Between the great wars, it was an independent country.
Throughout its history, the borders of "Lithuania" and its geographic administrative districts (Gubernias and Uyezds) changed shape many times. Records from localities in "Lithuania" which were created and stored by different organizations both governmental and religious varied during this time.
Typically, international archival standards dictate that records for a locality be stored in the present day archives of the current country that governs the locality.
Thus, Litvak researchers must understand the geo-political history of their ancestral shtetls in order to determine where records of interest may exist.
Also of import is to understand that records were kept for many reasons, most of them related to taxation and conscription and not for posterity and genealogy research. Over the years, many were destroyed -- routinely, by accident, and by malicious intent as by the Germans during WWII.
What exists today is a shadow of the former wealth of information. LitvakSIG’s mission is to indentify Litvak records, have them copied and/or translated, and to make them available to LitvakSIG members and contributors and eventually to the public through the LitvakSIG All Lithuania Database . In many cases, due to the lack of available resources and other priorities in various archives, LitvakSIG is really the main vehicle for gaining access to data from the various Lithuanian archives.
Having said that, researchers who find data through LitvakSIG District Research Groups, Vital Records Projects, and other Special Projects or the All Lithuania Database may want to contact the various Archives and Repositories for copies or further research in records that have not yet been data based. Also see the Frequently Asked Questions Page called FAQ about the Research Process and Contacting the Archives.
The following is a list of the archives in Lithuania and elsewhere from which LitvakSIG has obtained records or which may have holdings of interest. Clicking on the archive name will bring you to a webpage with information on the archive, their holdings, and how to contact them.