Archives & Repositories
The area now known as Lithuania was part of the Russian Empire from the late 1700¹s until the end of World War I. Between the great wars 1919-1940 ,it was an independent country.
Throughout its history, the borders of "Lithuania" and its geographic administrative districts (Guberniyas 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 be found.
It’s important 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 such as by the Germans during WWII.
What exists today is a shadow of the former wealth of information. LitvakSIG’s mission is to identify Litvak records, have them translated and to make them available to LitvakSIG 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 Research Groups 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 Office of the Chief Archivist of Lithuania is a government agency, which participates in the shaping of national policy in the field of management and use of documents and archives, as well as implements this policy, supports the Chief Archivist of Lithuania in the carrying-out of state administration of the field of documents and 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.
- Lithuanian State Historical Archives (LVIA)
- Lithuanian Central State Archives (LCVA)
- Kaunas Regional State Archives (KRA)
- Lithuanian Special Archives (LYA)
- Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum (VGM)
- Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People (CAHJP)
- YIVO Institute for Jewish Research (YIVO)
- St. Petersburg Archives (RGIA)
- Polish State Archives (PSA)
- National Historical Archives of Belarus, Minsk (NHABMinsk)
- National Historical Archives of Belarus, Grodno (NHABGrodno)
- Grodno Oblast State Archive (GAGO)
- Zonal State Archive in Molodechno (ZGAM)