Given Names Database

The Lithuania Given Names Database (GNDB) is a searchable database of Jewish given names used in Lithuania during 1795-1925. Each name is cross referenced to the new local vernacular names adopted in this same time period in nine foreign countries (Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Palestine, South Africa, UK, US) to which Lithuanian Jews emigrated. Thus, this database includes the Hebrew, Yiddish, and local and other-European-country secular names used in Lithuania, as well as new vernacular names used in foreign countries.

The GNDB was derived from Hilchot Gitin books (Jewish Law books written by expert, prominent rabbis as guides for the community rabbis who prepared various official documents), archival Lithuanian records, given names books, non-European gravestone readings, contributions from researchers, and other sources. Genealogists can use the GNDB to identify all of the Jewish and vernacular names that an ancestor may have used in Europe and in his new country of immigration.

Each record in the GNDB has one field containing a Primary given name (like Yehuda Leyb) that was recognized by Jews as the Legal Jewish Name for recording the names of women and men in Jewish legal documents (get, ketuva, and other Jewish contracts), and for calling a man to the Torah for an aliya. Other fields in the record contain all the Yiddish and secular names that were commonly linked to the Primary name in Lithuania. Some of these names were major names (like the Yiddish name Yehuda), while others were simply names of endearment (like Yiddish name Yidele), diminutives (like Yudya), or others. And yet other fields contain all the foreign vernacular names a Lithuanian emigrant might have adopted in one of the nine foreign countries to which he migrated. Each name field contains between 0 and 35 given names, depending on the Lithuanian and foreign name popularity and usage.

For a detailed, field-by-field description of the database, information on the database compilation methodologies, details on the database sources, and other information on the GNDB, you can go to this webpage on JewishGen’s website. You may also want to read this FAQ on the JewishGen website.

Click here to learn how to search the Lithuania GNDB.