Also, because many of the databases you will be
doing your research in are part of the JewishGen website that hosts
Please refer to the
A) Lithuanian State Historical Archives
Lietuvos Valstybes Istorijos Archyvas (LVIA)
This archive contains Pre-1940 vital records, some Revision Lists (census records), and various other types of records including a small number of pre-1914 internal passport records. All of the Jewish vital records (over 500,000) were filmed by the Mormons except for those vital records transferred from Archive (B) in January, 2002. Some of these transferred records date back to 1881. Research - the archive no longer does full research but will do limited research of specific records; i.e., they will search the vital records or census records but not both. Research fees: Fees vary depending on the amount of research done. The archive will notify you of the charges prior to sending you records. No advance payment is required with your initial research request. You can write to them in English. Their response will be in English. Do not expect a response to your research request for 12 to 15 months.
Write to Galina Baranova, Deputy Department Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lietuvos Centrinis Metriku Archyvas
This archive contains Post-1940 vital records. Research fees: none required. Cost for each record located is a maximum of 15 Euros for an abstract of each record. You can write to them in English. Their response will be in Lithuanian.
Kauno Apygardos Archyvas
This archive contains Pre-1915 records: Revision Lists, various types of Tax Records, Guild Records, Court Records, and other types of records. All of their records were for cities and towns formerly located in Kovno Gubernia (region) which, at one time, covered the largest part of Lithuania. Research and record fees are the same as at Archive (A). You can write to them in English. Their response will be in English. You can speed up the process by sending an email message to Vitalija Gircyte, Chief Archivist, at email@example.com However, do not slow down the process by sending an email requesting a status report of your research request. Expect to receive a response in four or five months.
Panevezio Apygardos Archyvas
This archive contains Post World War II records such as property records, tax records, etc., for Panevezys and the surrounding area. Also, it contains 1940 Panevezys Jewish property records. Write to them in Lithuanian or Russian. They are unable to translate English. Research and record fees are the same as at Archive (B).
Includes Lithuanian Archive of Image and Sound. Every request for an archival search from any person must be sent to the archive in written form (not by email) and with a personal signature. Email can be used for follow up purposes. This archive contains school records, internal passport applications, prison records, and various other records for the period of Lithuania’s independence, 1919-1940. This archive also contains many original photographs such as photographs of 1222 Jewish Russian Army conscripts, 1900-1914, from the Vilnius District, and numerous photographs of Jewish subjects in Lithuania that were taken during the 1920-1930's.
Archival search (if request needs it) for one surname is 4.4 Euros. A digital copy of one page in one person's file is 4.4 Euros. The cost of the CD itself is 0.6 Euros. Sending the CD by registered mail is 2.3 Euros.
The Euro cost is equivalent to its value in dollars, or other foreign currency, on the day of the payment.
First step - read the FAQs. Next, do your homework.
After reading the FAQs, and prior to contacting the archives in Lithuania, you must do your homework first. Search the LitvakSIG "All-Lithuania" Database (ALD) and you will probably find records of your ancestors. Send that information to the archives. The archivists will not have to waste time searching for those records and the records will also serve as a good basis for them to do additional research.
You should definitely write to both Archives (A) and (C) listed above. Each of these archives contains entirely different records. No duplication is involved. Also, each of these archives operates independently. Neither is a branch of the other. In addition to (A) and (C), write to the other archives depending on your needs and the type of records they contain. Important: Be sure and ask them to research the Jewish records. ←BACK ∆Table of Contents
You do not need to send a family tree to any archive.
A three-generation (maximum) family tree can be helpful. If you should
send a family tree, include only those ancestors who were born, married,
lived, or died in Lithuania.
The important thing to send would be the names (as close as possible to their original Lithuanian or Eastern European names, not the Anglicized version), approximate dates, and the name of the town you are researching. Give them the current Lithuanian name of the town as many towns share the same or similar Yiddish name. Additionally, the archivists are not Jewish and, in many cases, would not be familiar with the town's Jewish name. Go to the LitvakSIG Shtetl / Uyezd / Guberniya page at http://www.jewishgen.org/litvak/HTML/sug.htm for a list of the current Lithuanian names as well as the former 19th century Yiddish names from the Pale of Settlement. This very complete table, which is broken down into five separate pages, A-G, I-L, M-R, S-T, and U-Z. ←BACK ∆Table of Contents
Definitely not. They will not do the research and, probably, will not respond to you. If you do not know the name of the town, you need to do more research before writing to the Archives in Lithuania. ←BACK ∆Table of Contents
No. First, and most important, the archive needs to know the type of records you want searched, and where your ancestors lived. You will then be notified as to what records exist for that town, what the research possibilities are, and an explanation of the payment that is required. ←BACK ∆Table of Contents
Your personal check will be acceptable as long as it is drawn on funds that are accepted worldwide and considered as "hard currency" in Lithuania. (If you use a postal money order, please be aware that it needs to be an International Postal Money Order as U.S. Postal Money orders are no longer valid outside the USA and its possessions.) ←BACK ∆Table of Contents
Pre 1840 vital records are written in Polish. Pre-World War I records are in Russian Cyrillic. Jewish vital records are in Cyrillic and duplicated in Hebrew or Yiddish. Post-World War I records are in Lithuanian. However, there can be exceptions. Pre-World War I records in the Memel (Klaipeda) Archive were written mainly in German. One-third of those records are in Archive (E) above, one-third are in a small town in Eastern Poland, and the remaining third in an archive in Berlin, Germany. ←BACK ∆Table of Contents
It is possible to a limited extent. However, you have to be able to read and translate Russian Cyrillic writing. You would also have to spend several weeks in the archives in order to get any results. The archivists do not encourage individuals to do their own research due to the fragile nature of the original records. It is far better to contact the archive or hire a private researcher in Lithuania. ←BACK ∆Table of Contents
It is possible, but not likely. However, if you write to them several months in advance, give them good information, and tell them your arrival date at the archive, they will make every effort to have records waiting for you. ←BACK ∆Table of Contents
Presently, hundreds of thousands of records are available online. The prime site for online Lithuanian records is the LitvakSIG “All Lithuania Database” (ALD) at http://www.jewishgen.org/Litvak or http://www.litvaksig.org.
For an index of available records go to www.rtrfoundation.org
Locality Index to Lithuanian Jewish Vital Records Microfilm - www.jewishgen.org/databases/FHLC/VilnaMicrofilmsIndex.htm
Vital records include birth, marriage, death, and divorce records. A rabbi, generally elected by the Jewish community, recorded these events. In Kovno and Vilna guberniyas each record was written in Russian Cyrillic. Some records were then repeated or duplicated in Hebrew or Yiddish, while some records were only in Russian. In Suwalki Gubernia the vital record was first recorded in the Synagogue. Someone then went, with two witnesses, to the Civil Office, and turned in the record. For a Birth, the father went to report the event, usually with two witnesses. For a Marriage, the Rabbi, the bride, the groom, and two witnesses all went. Sometimes the fathers of the bride and groom were also the witnesses. This usually happened the same day, after the Synagogue ceremony. For a Death, usually relatives came with one witness, or, sometimes, only witnesses appeared to report the death. Divorce was not included. Suwalki records were written in Polish or Russian. Suwalki records are usually very informative.
More than 500,000 Jewish vital records stored in the Lithuanian Historical Archive (LVIA), are now on microfilm at the FHL (Family History Library) in Salt Lake City, Utah. Thousands of these records have already been translated by LitvakSIG and have been added to the All Lithuania Database at http:/www.jewishgen.org/Litvak. This is an ongoing project and new records will continue to be added as they are translated.
The majority of these handwritten microfilmed records are available through your local FHC (Family History Center) connected to an LDS (Mormon) Church. A few additional records involving the area along the West coast of Lithuania are also on microfilm at the FHL.
The Locality index to Lithuanian Jewish Vital Records Microfilms is available at http://www.jewishgen.org/databases/FHLC/lit001.html
To see an index of all Jewish records located in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah go to http://www.jewishgen.org/databases/FHLC/. Any of the records on microfilm can be ordered in to your local Family History Center (Church of the Latter Day Saints). ←BACK ∆Table of Contents
If you know the exact unit your ancestor served in, it is possible to obtain his army record. If not, it is next to impossible. The Kaunas Archive holds a limited number of military records, primarily from 1900-1915. Most 19th-century military records are in Moscow. ←BACK ∆Table of Contents
No. Recruitment Committee records do not exist in the Lithuanian archives. The Kaunas Archive has some personal files of men who tried to escape conscription, or had a legal reason to avoid military service, but these records are unindexed and the place of residence is not noted. ←BACK ∆Table of Contents
YES. The State Historical Archives in Vilnius holds revision lists for the Disna, Lida, Oshmiany, and Vileika uyezds (districts) of Belarus. LitvakSIG has translated and entered records from the 1858 Revision List from Oshmiany District into the "All Lithuania" Database. Also, some records from the Lida District have been translated. Many records from the other districts have been entered into the Belarus SIG database. ←BACK ∆Table of Contents
It is a census. It differs from censuses recorded in the West in that the previous revision list was revised, or updated, until the next census was recorded. For example, the 1883 revision list for Linkuva includes the names and ages of children born between 1883 and 1897 when the next census for Linkuva was recorded. It may also note what happened to people registered on the list since the last census, or where they previously lived, so the information provided may cover a period of more than ten years. ←BACK ∆Table of Contents
There is very little difference except for the name
the particular list is called. Up to, and including 1858, the census was
called a revision list. On a revision list, a family may have always lived
in Kaunas but yet they were officially registered in Kelme. Thus, they
would be listed on the Kelme revision list and not on the Kaunas revision
list. After 1858, it was called a family list. A family list usually
contained more information than a revision list. The first record actually
called a census was the 1897 Census of the Russian Empire. It included all
families living in the town regardless of where they were registered. It
also included the address where they lived, where they were registered,
where they were born, and their occupation.
The Box Tax was a tax levied on kosher meat. It was levied on every animal slaughtered and again levied on every pound of kosher meat sold in the Jewish community. The tax was used to support the local municipality, for charity purposes, to pay the taxes for poor Jews, and part of it went to various government institutions. The amount of tax levied, the distribution of the tax, and a list of the names of the taxpayers were included in this Box tax list. ←BACK ∆Table of Contents
The Candle Tax was a tax on the sale of Shabbos candles. Usually, the
record did not state how the tax was collected or who collected it. Very
few details were given. The list of taxpayers was usually broken down by
"1st category-well-to-do families (in 1846 paid 8 silver kopecks)," "2nd
category-of medium state (in 1846 paid 4.5 silver kopecks)," "3rd
category-of lower state (in 1846 paid 2 silver kopecks)," and "poor-did
not pay any tax."
No. Some records of Jews killed may be found in the
Lithuanian Central State Archives, Milasiaus 21, Vilnius 2016, Lithuania.
Other sources include The
Lithuanian Jewry Memorial Foundation
Holocaust Names Project,
Yad Vashem, and the
United States Holocaust Museum
in Washington, DC.
No. For information about Lithuanian Jewish Cemeteries consult The JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) and the International Jewish Cemetery Project - Lithuania. ←BACK ∆Table of Contents
The earliest revision list still extant in the Historical Archive (LVIA) was recorded in 1765. The next revision list was recorded in 1784. During both of those periods, the revision lists included most of the towns in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, an area stretching from the Baltic on the north to the Black Sea on the south. No surnames are listed as, at that time, the majority of Jews in Lithuania did not have a surname. Surnames begin to show up on revision lists from 1816 at which point some families were using surnames. If you find an ancestor listed in 1816 and his/her age is say, 70, that would take you back to a birth year of 1746. Due to the lack of surnames, however, it is difficult to trace the records further back than that. Family names began to appear more frequently starting in 1834. Metric books (vital records) were introduced in the Russian Empire in 1835. But if that ancestor's father is listed, you can reasonably assume that he was probably born 20 to 30 years earlier than his son. ←BACK ∆Table of Contents
With the exception of vital records stored in
archives (B), most, if not all, vital records are in (A) the State
Historical Archive (LVIA). Copies of some vital records are in the Kaunas Archive
as part of a file pertaining to other matters, i.e., a passport
application, a legal proceeding, etc. Finding these vital records would be
accidental as they are not filed separately. A few local archives may
contain 1919-1940 vital records but they are duplicates of the vital
records stored in archive (A).
a) LitvakSIG's "All-Lithuania" Database (ALD) contains the largest number of Lithuanian Jewish records on the Internet. Many individuals and groups are participating in the development of this database. The "All Lithuania" Database contains complete Revision Lists, Revision List Indexes, Family Lists, Tax Lists, Voters Lists, Draft Evasion Penalties, Legal Documents, Vital Records, Telephone, Business and Street Directories, Tombstone inscriptions, and Ghetto Arrest Lists, among others.
b) Keidaner Cemeteries: A Database and Guide, is a comprehensive database of names and other inscriptions from the tombstones in Keidaner cemeteries both in Keidan itself (Kedainiai, Lithuania) and elsewhere.
c) Kovno Cemetery Database. This is a list of those who died in the Ghetto between 18 August 1941 and 31 December 1943, and were buried there. It is considered to be a list of those who died "natural" deaths -- as opposed to those who were murdered by the "killing squads."
d) Kelme Database consists of more than 2,000 data records from various sources for the Lithuanian shtetl of Kelme. These archival records range from 1816-1944.
e) Lithuanian and Latvian Jewish donations were printed in HaMelitz, as extracted and compiled by Jeffrey Maynard.
f) Lithuanian Medical Directories, 1923-1925, prepared by Harold Rhode. This database contains information about 874 Jewish medical personnel, found in two Lithuanian medical directories.
g) London Poor Jews Shelter. The Poor Jews' Temporary Shelter was established in London, England, in 1885. It was designed to meet the needs of Jews who were coming to or passing through London. The names and various other pieces of information about each new arrival to the Shelter were recorded by hand in a series of Registers covering the period 1896-1914.
h) The Persian Famine donation lists which were printed in the Hebrew newspaper HaMagid in 1871 and 1872 provide a resource of names of more than 5,000 Lithuanian Jewish heads of families, as extracted and compiled by Jeffrey Maynard.
i) Sugihara Database, containing the names and visa dates of 2,139 Lithuanian, Polish, German, Dutch, and Russian Jews, all of whom were saved by transit visas issued by the Japanese diplomat, Chiune Sugihara, coupled with passports issued by Jan Zwartendijk, the Dutch diplomat.
j) Vilna Guberniya Conscripts Photographs. Names and photographs of 1,222 Jewish conscripts from Vilna gubernia into the Russian army, 1900-1914.
k) A list of original Jewish photographs stored in the Archive of Image and Sound in Vilnius.
Lithuania Internal Passports, 1919-1940
A revision list is probably the most useful of all of the 19th century records. The entire family is listed, with their ages, father's name, and other useful information. Also, it covers a span of years rather than just being a snapshot taken at the time the census was recorded. Information is provided about what happened to every person since the last revision: who died, who was conscripted, who moved, who came to town, and when. All relationships to the head of the household are made clear. A vital record pertains to a single event with only a few names mentioned. An 1816 Revision List providing the oldest man's age as 68 would mean that he had been born in 1748. His father's name would be included and you could deduce that he would have been born about 20-30 years earlier, between 1718 and 1728. ←BACK ∆Table of Contents
This was the first census that included the street address where the family lived, the place of registration, the place of birth for each family member, and their occupation. Unfortunately, only about 10% of this original Census for Lithuania still exists in the Historical Archives in Vilnius. ←BACK ∆Table of Contents
The LVIA (A) has a limited number of 1897 census records for various towns and villages. It is possible that additional 1897 census records for Lithuania are stored in the Moscow and/or St. Petersburg archives. The entire existing 1897 Lithuania census, translated into English, is at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. The FHL re-produced the census data on microfiche. You can order in a copy of the microfiche through your local Family History Center (Church of the Latter Day Saints).
The title on the microfiche is, "1897 census extracts from Lithuania". The description is, 459 exposures on 10 microfiches (105 mm.), GS6001828. All you need to do is provide the film number 6001828. Any FHC can then order the fiches. They all have the same film number and then are arranged by parts.
The reason why the FHL titled the census as "extracts from Lithuania" is simply this. When the 1897 census of the Russian Empire was recorded, it was not done separately by religion. The census form contained a column in which the person's religion was recorded. The data on the microfiche contains only Jews and not the entire census. Therefore, it is an extract and not the complete census. To learn more about the 1897 Lithuania census, and to see an index of the towns that are included together with the number of families listed, please refer to the following URL http://www.mindspring.com/~peggyf/97c_des.htm ←BACK ∆Table of Contents
Many records were destroyed during the various wars, pogroms, fires, etc. Fortunately, however, a tremendous amount of records still do exist. When an index says "Birth records - 1880-1912" please understand that it does not necessarily mean that every single birth record during that entire period is included. Some years could be missing. ←BACK ∆Table of Contents
No. Voter registration lists are in Moscow, as are
the bulk of the military records. Some police records, as well as other
types of records, are located in Moscow and in St. Petersburg. A sizeable
quantity of the Lithuanian records for the southwestern area of present
day Lithuania are stored in the Suwalki archive in Poland. See the
Vital Records in Poland by
You will find many variations in spelling of the same name depending on whether the name was spelled in Yiddish, Hebrew, Russian, or Lithuanian. Most of our ancestors spoke Yiddish in their daily lives and prayed in Hebrew. But most of the official documents were in old Russian Cyrillic. Clerks transliterated their Yiddish names into Russian letters. ←BACK ∆Table of Contents
great-grandfather may have had an excellent command of Hebrew and/or
Yiddish including reading and writing. However, if he was not able to read
and write in the Russian language, the Russians considered him illiterate.
If you know the female's maiden name, you may be able to trace some generations. However, it is difficult because, most of the time, the name of the father is recorded but not the maiden name of the mother. ←BACK ∆Table of Contents
The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York City contains old Yiddish newspapers, books, articles, photographs, etc. There is a large Lithuanian Collection of Materials from the Interwar Period at YIVO. (See the article in the LitvakSIG Online Journal, “Never Judge an Archival Collection by Its Description or, Never Judge a Book by Its Cover: The contents of YIVO's Lithuanian Communities of the Interwar Period Collection” by Deena A. Berton.)
The Library of Congress in Washington and many university libraries contain some Russian business directories.
No. They will first inform you what records they have located and the cost involved. You can then advise them as to which records you would like copies of. The LVIA (A), the Kaunas Archive (C), and the Lithuanian Central State Archive (LCVA) (E) will send photocopies of the original records. The other archives will send an abstract of the record. (An abstract is the important information from a record but not a copy of the record itself.) ←BACK ∆Table of Contents
It is best to order copies of all the records. You
may have thought your great-grandfather had only one brother when, in
fact, he had three brothers and two sisters. At a later date, you will
probably receive other records that will enable you to verify who they
were and which of your ancestors they were related to.
No. A search of the records for a large city like Vilnius or Kaunas must be done in stages. A 10-year time frame is usually searched. Too many books of records exist for those cities for a more inclusive search to be done. ←BACK ∆Table of Contents
The Kaunas Archive has records for the seven Uyezds
(districts) of the former Kaunas guberniya: Kaunas Uyezd, Raseinai, Telshe,
Siauliai, Ponevezys, Ukmerge (formerly Vilkomir), and Zarasai (formerly
Novo-Aleksandrovsk) districts. Today, part of the former Zarasai district
is in Belarus while a small portion is in Latvia.
In 1874, all of the Jewish population of Kaunas guberniya was listed in family lists. The Kaunas Archive has all of these for the Kaunas district (not the guberniya), except for Vilkija and several other places in the district. ←BACK ∆Table of Contents
Order records for the later years first. After establishing that those records are of interest to you, then order records for the preceding years. In other words, start with the most current years and work backwards. ←BACK ∆Table of Contents
Usually, the "Age Last" refers to the previous MAJOR revision list, i.e., the 1858 list or the 1834 list. However, that is not always the case. Using an 1874 Family List as an example, for some towns additional lists were recorded for years between 1858 and 1874. The "Age Last" on the 1874 list could refer to the 1858 list but it could also refer to one of the additional lists. In some cases, those additional lists were destroyed and no longer exist so there is no way to check it out.
The archivists in the Lithuanian archives have very little confidence in the ages stated in the "Age Last" column because there is no way to know which previous list is referred to. An exception is, if the list states which year the "Age Last" refers to. This is rarely recorded but is present on some lists. ← BACK ∆ Table of Contents
(FAQS, January 20, 2002 created by Howard Margol & Ada Green. Revised 2005. Revised March, 2008 Howard Margol.