Tax Lists

There were a great many different kinds of taxes that the Jews of Lithuania were expected to pay at any given time. Since the purpose for taxes varied, so did the kind of information collected on each type of tax record. In some cases, the lists are those exempt from certain taxes.

Tax Lists generally list the family name, first name, and father’s name of all heads of households in the community. Sometimes the wife’s name, the number of family members (or number of male members of the household), occupation, and financial status or class is also included. Many indicate the ages and dates of death. Some indicate profession or are specifically compiled based on profession like Merchant Lists or Craftsmen and Guild Lists.

The following are the major types of Tax Lists included in the ALD along with a brief summary.

Box Tax

A tax on kosher meat also called the "puske" or "kupah" tax. This tax was collected from the members of a Jewish community and used to pay for its various social needs, including the Rabbi’s salary. These lists always give family, first name and father’s names of the head of each household of the community. Sometimes the number of family members, occupation and financial status is indicated. Rarely other members of household are listed. There are no ages included in Box Tax Lists. An age is only given for those unable to pay taxes because a person’s age may be the reason they are unable to pay the tax. These taxes were collected by the Jewish Community, not town governments. In fact, the Box tax collector was called a "tax merchant" or "tax farmer" and was committed to actually raising the amount he had bid for the tax collecting right. In 1844, 119 former kahals were combined into 74 new Jewish communities for the purpose of collecting these taxes. In the "Record" column, there is no record number for those whose signatures are included at the bottom of the list.

Candle Tax

A tax on Sabbath candles was used for the needs of Jewish education and lists exist for almost all Jewish communities in Kaunas Guberniya. Most of the lists are for 1846, 1877, 1892, and 1904, and for some communities for 1908 and 1912. Usually, the record did not state how the tax was collected or who collected it. Very few details were given. These lists of taxpayers were usually broken down by "well-to-do families," "average families," and "poor families" who lived in the community.

Real Estate Tax and Property Tax Lists

Real estate tax lists often yield some information about the specific property, such as its size, estimated value, and the tax due. Sometimes the type of possession of the real estate -- whether ownership, leasehold, or rental is established, and how. Since these lists are compiled based on where people owned property, it may not be a good indication of where they actually lived.

Real Estate Owners List

There are many kinds of real estate owner’s lists, with varying amounts of information. Some are quite detailed, noting the documentation that proves ownership, exactly what is owned and how the property is used, as well as any liens against the property, the value of the property, and a full listing of the entire family living on the property. Some give only the surname and name of the owner. Within this category of files are lists of Jews "who illegally owned property belonging to Christians."

Merchant Lists

Lists of the merchants (of 1st, 2nd and 3rd classes) who were permitted to trade in a district and may include the entire family. Many times Merchants were not listed in general Family Lists or other Taxpayer lists so these can be very valuable records.

Craftsmen Lists

Both Craftsmen and Artisans belonged to Guilds and were given special privileges (including exemption from some taxes). Families often continued to follow the same craft trades from one generation to the next, making these lists very useful in genealogical research. There are records of Craftsmen for the second half of the 19th century, but the lists are often incomplete and provide little information beyond name, profession, and sometimes place of origin.

Please be aware that the spellings of names -- both first and last -- may be different from the ones you are familiar with and accustomed to. In addition, some information on these lists that do not fit into our database template are noted in the Comments Field. For more information, see our Translation, Transliteration, and Database Standards for the ALD.

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