Sunday, October 15, 2006
Vilna Record Indexing - 1882 Births Completed
2:10 pm edt
I am pleased to announce the completion of the 1882 Vilna birth record indexing effort.
Friday, October 6, 2006
VRT Site Update - Vilna Surnames
6:42 am edt
This site has just been updated to include surnames found in a broad section of vital records. The names were extracted
from the Vilna city vital records for the years 1854 - 1857, 1861, and 1883 - 1888. Rather than just listing the surname,
a comprehensive listing is given, showing all instances of the surname found so far, including the year of each record.
These listings are intended to aid researchers, especially where their surnames have never been identified in Vilna to
date. The other side of this is the practical aspect - the VRT project needs funding from you to enable the full translations
of these and all Vilna vital records. The Vilna vital records we have span the time period from 1837 - 1915.
Please take this opportunity to make your $100 donation to the Vilna Vital Records. You can do so by going to the
Downloads page, printing the Donor form, and following the instructions contained therein.
Thursday, October 5, 2006
First Vilna city Vital Records Translations Distributed
6:25 am edt
I am pleased to announce the vital records for the city of vilna for the year 1861 were distributed to qualified donors.
Several surnames of current Vilna researchers have been identified. These translations included 1134 births, 1200 deaths,
173 marriages and 37 divorces.
Researchers interested in receiving these translations can go to the Downloads page, print out the Donor form, and send
in a minimum of $100 to pay for the cost of translation.
Division of VRT Responsibilities
6:15 am edt
Here is an update on how VRT project responsibilities are now broken up - I [Joel Ratner] will be handling all Vilna
and Suwalki gubernia towns as well as the Kovno city, Vilijampole [Slobodka], and Vilkija efforts. All other Kovno gubernia
inquiries should be sent to Aaron Roetenberg, the LitvakSIG treasurer.
Saturday, August 19, 2006
LitvakSIG elections at the 2006 IAJGS Conference in New York
9:01 pm edt
I just returned from the 2006 IAJGS Conference in New York held this past week. There was a lot of significant activity,
including the LitvakSIG elections, several talks of interest to Litvaks, as well as a side trip I made with Olga Zabludoff
The election of the SIG Board of Directors resulted in a new Board fixed at nine members due to a motion which passed
prior to the actual voting. The voting commenced and the result was essentially a Board consisting of only a few existing
members, with the rest being newly elected. The newly elected Board held a meeting, after which it was announced that Howard
Margol was selected as LitvakSIG President, Aaron Roetenberg as Treasurer, and Merle Kastner as Secretary.
Howard approached me and asked me to stay on as the Coordinator of the Vital Records Indexing Project however, the suggestion
was made the project be split up by gubernia. In theory, that is a good thing because I won't have to handle the entire project
on my own. There are plenty of records to go around for translation and no one can easily say it ought to be a one person
job. I was told that Aaron Roetenberg, in addition to being elected as Treasurer, would also be coordinating the vital records
for Kovno gubernia. Until this point in time, Richard Hoffman has been our Treasurer, and that job alone requires a significant
amount of effort. I believe the tasks of Treasurer and Kovno gubernia vital records coordinator are best kept separate. I
initiated discussions on this subject, and I believe it might turn out some of the larger Kovno towns might be excluded
from Aarons responsibilities. It only makes sense. As things develop on this subject, I will be keeping you informed via this
Also discussed after the election was the subject of the LitvakSIG and JewishGen vital records projects, and how they
will function now that the coordinators of the JewishGen project are LitvakSIG Board members. Everyone recognizes there are
issues here and further discussions are required in order to pave a way forward. Again, I will keep you all informed here
in these pages.
Monday, July 3, 2006
First Vilna translations received
8:11 am edt
The first Vilna vital records translations have been received from the translator - the births for the year 1861 are
now being proofed. It is expected further announcements will be made during the summer, as more of these Vilna translations
Marriages and Divorces held up for inclusion in ALD
8:09 am edt
The prior listing of records sent for inclusion in the ALD was held up by JewishGen due to issues they had with the Vital
Records Template we have been using for several years now. The result of this was a total reformatting of the data, which
has been accomplished for the birth and death recoirds. The marriage and divorce records will take more time, owing to a total
rewrite of our marriage template. The birth and death records have been resubmitted.
Saturday, June 3, 2006
Over 11,000 Records Sent to the All-Lithuania Database
6:09 pm edt
A few days ago, the first records were sent to JewishGen for posting in the All-Lithuania Database [ALD]. Over 11,000
records were sent, representing the towns of Keidan, Kernave, Moletai, Pumpenai, Rasein, Shirvint and Vilkija. The record
sets submitted are as follows:
Keidan - 1822, 1848, 1851, 1852, 1854, 1854 - 1860, 1862, 1863, 1865-1871, 1873 - 1888, 1892, 1895, 1897, 1899, 1901-1903,
1906 - 1901, 1912 - 1914
Kernave - 1870
Moletai - 1853 - 1861, 1863 - 1872, 1892 - 1895
Pumpenai - 1855, 1858, 1860, 1861, 1863 - 1887
Rasein - 1845
Shirvint - 1854 - 1861, 1863 - 1872
Vilkija - 1880 - 1887, 1889 - 1893
Moletai - 1853 - 1857, 1859 - 1872, 1898, 1900 - 1902, 1904 - 1915
Pumpenai - 1854 - 1856, 1859 - 1861, 1865 - 1880, 1902, 1903, 1905 - 1907
Rasein - 1844
Shirvint - 1854 - 1872
Vilkija - 1881 - 1892
Moletai - 1854 - 1857, 1859 - 1861, 1863 - 1869, 1871, 1893 - 1895
Pumpenai - 1855, 1860, 1861, 1863, 1865 - 1880
Rasein - 1844, 1845
Shirvint - 1854 - 1861, 1863 - 1872
Moletai - 1855, 1856, 1859, 1862 - 1868, 1871, 1894
Pumpenai - 1855, 1856, 1858, 1862, 1865 - 1867, 1870, 1875, 1877
Since some of the records came from the Vilna county [okrug] metrical registers, there are a very small number of records
for other towns as well. These include Nemencine, Gedrovitz, Paberze, Inturik as well as a few others.
At the same time, these records have been listed above by the town for which these metrical registers were created.
Many more towns are actually represented if one considers the town of registration. The list of towns is too numerous to mention;
just look them up when they make their way into the ALD.
Monday, April 10, 2006
Clarification for Vilna City Researchers
10:27 pm edt
Several researchers listed in the JGFF under Vilna have contacted me and asked for specific information on their family.
The Vilna vital records require translation and prior to that, sufficient funds must be secured to meet the costs involved.
At this point, the Vilna vital records for the years 1861 - 1865 are with a translator. These will be the first Vilna city
records to come out of translation. In addition, I have been working on records for other years and have amassed a long list
of names that resulted in the "Vilna Surnames" page on this website. This list is only partial, having been derived from 5
years worth of birth records. That list alone does not necessarily indicate you will not find your family, for in each additional
years records, there are many surnames that had not been discovered previously. People moved around as well, so even a
surname list derived from 10 or 15 years of vital records cannot be said to be complete.
Please check this web site often, since updates to the project status are listed here. That is part of the purpose
of this blog......a near real-time avenue allowing dissemination of new, useful information to the Litvak researcher.
Saturday, April 8, 2006
City of Vilna Researchers
10:00 pm edt
A concerted effort was made today to establish contact with as many Vilna researchers as possible. I received responses
from many individuals, each asking a different set of questions. Due to JewishGen rules concerning the use of the
JGFF, my message was pretty bland [JGen crafted it]. The purpose of my message was to establish contact with Vilna researchers
interested specifically in the LitvakSIG Vital Records Translation Project. Many researchers who contacted me in return
are not everyday LitvakSIG participants in our District and VRI projects. This became obvious when reading some of the questions
posed to me. Here I'll try to answer some of them.
1. Many researchers asked for access to the records or translations. I can't send out original records because we
don't own them. They are owned by the Lithuanian Archives. In addition, the whole point of my contacting Vilna researchers
was to inform you of the Vital Records Translation Project and our work with the Vilna records. The translations
will become available once we have raised enough money to translate them. That is the object here - to have you Vilna researchers
fund the translations. You, as Vilna researchers will have access to the crown jewel of Litvak records [via the translations] -
a contiguous set of vital records covering the years 1837 - 1914. This includes birth, death, marriage, and divorce records.
There are approximately 2000 records per year over a period of almost 80 years, yielding 160,000 records. In order to
translate these records, we need your financial support. This effort alone will require somewhere in the vicinity of $100,000
to complete. So far, we have raised over $4000, and this is going towards the translation of Vilna vital records for
the years 1861 - 1865. The translations of these records are expected to be ready by the time the IAJGS conference rolls around
in August 2006. Many researchers responded to my query by giving details of their family and asking me to look them up. The
Vital Records translations for 1861 - 1865, when ready, will become the first available VRI source for Vilna researchers.
Until the time those records appear, researchers are invited to check for their surname of interest on the LitvakSIG website
using the All Lithuania Database [ALD]. Included in the ALD are several large Vilna databases covering a large time period.
Within the ALD, you will find the 1858 Vilna City Revision List, the 1915 Vilna city directory "Vsia Vilna", as well as the
1942 Vilna Ghetto Census. You can use these databases to help determine if your family indeed hailed from the city of Vilna
or at least to determine if your surname appears.
Also of use in your research is our FAQ page which is in the process of being updated due to the many questions which
have been raised. Please avail yourself of this resource.
Thursday, March 30, 2006
Surname Lists Added to VRI Website
11:30 pm est
Surname lists have been developed for several towns for which translations have been received. Each town has a separate
page listing the unique surnames found among the vital records. Please check the appropriate page for your town.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Pumpenai translations are in
10:04 pm est
A large number of Pumpenai translations have been received from our translator. The Pumpenai records span the years
1854 - 1914. If you are interested in receiving these translations, please contact Chaim Luria, the Shtetl Coordinator for
Pumpenai or go directly to the Downloads page and make your $100 donation, following the directions on the Donor form.
Saturday, March 11, 2006
Raseiniai Records Distribution Completed
11:46 pm est
The vital records for the town of Raseiniai were distributed today to qualified donors. These records consist of the
birth, death and marriage records for the years 1844 and 1845. This completes the effort for Raseiniai.
Shirvint Records Distribution Completed
11:16 pm est
The vital records for the town of Shirvint [Vilna uyezd], were distributed today to qualified donors. These records consist
of the birth, death and marriage records for the years 1854-1872.
Additional records exist for Shirvint which are part of the "Vilna County" records. In Imperial times, Shirvint was in
the second okrug [sub-district] of the the Vilna uyezd, and the 2nd okrug records pick up where the Shirvint specific metrical
registers ended. It is therefore in the best interests of Shirvint researchers to continue funding the Vilna County records.
In order to do so, please simply make a donation to Shirvint, and the monies will be transferred accordingly.
Wednesday, March 8, 2006
Pasvalys Surname Extract - 1882 - 1894 Births
7:49 pm est
An extract of surnames from the Pasvalys birth records from 1882 - 1894 has been made available and has been added as
a separate page to this site. Look for more names from this and other towns in a few months.
Friday, February 24, 2006
Kernave Records Completed
6:08 pm est
The vital records translation effort for Kernave has been completed. There are precious few records for this town, consisting
of the births recorded for the year 1870.
Thursday, February 9, 2006
Translations Received for Shirvint
10:06 pm est
Translations were received earlier this week for all VRI records uniquely defined as Shirvint records. The translations
are being proofed and will be distributed shortly to qualified donors.
In addition, there are records labeled "Vilna County" which pertain to five or six different towns in a sub-district
of Vilna County. This area was known as the 2nd okrug of Vilna County. Records in the 2nd okrug category cover several towns
- Gelvan, Shirvint, Musnik, Paberze, Boguslaviskis and Mikaliskes. Funds are needed to translate these records as well, so
all researchers interested in Shirvint and the other 2nd okrug towns mentioned above may contribute to this effort by using
the VRI donor form on the Download page and specifying their donation under the category "Vilna County". For researchers interested
in the towns other than Shirvint, please realize the basic records for those towns, with the exception of Mikaliskes, have
not been sufficiently funded to allow translation to begin. It would be most prudent to donate to the specific town records
first, and helping fund the Vilna County records at a later time. Shirvint researchers are encouraged to contribute
to the Vilna County records at this time. Approximately $2000 - $2500 is required to fund the 2nd okrug records. These records
will be put in the translation queue as soon as we achieve $500 in donations.
Translations Completed for Rasein
9:52 pm est
Earlier this week, the translations of all VRI records for Rasein were received. The records are being proofed and will
be distributed to qualified Rasein contributors shortly.
Saturday, January 28, 2006
Keidan Birth Records Distribution
8:55 am est
Olga Zabludoff has been working hard proofing the Keidan birth records. She has distributed most of them to all qualified
Keidan contributors. The Keidan birth records will be completed in the spring. Work will then commence on the Keidan marriage
Friday, January 6, 2006
How to contact us
7:04 pm est
The VRI web site has a "Contact Us" page. In order for you to receive a reply from me, you must fill in your e-mail address.
Otherwise, I have no way of knowing how to respond to your query. This message was prompted by just such a query - someone
who stated his name, the towns he is interested in, etc. The message came through loud and clear and I'm all prepared to answer
the query however, the submitter has given me no way to establish contact. The request for your snail mail address and
telephone is in case you don't update us with a change in e-mail address in the future. Please fill out the contact form completely.
The Vital Records Indexing Project grew out of the newly gained access to the Lithuanian Archives
in the late 1990s. The Archives and the Family History Library [FHL or Mormons] came to an agreement which allowed
the filming of the metrical register books. These books cover the 19th Century and include 20th Century
records through 1915.
LitvakSIG came to agreement with the Archives and the FHL which provides LitvakSIG with digital images
[TIF files] of the vital records in exchange for translations we produce.
contain records for 100 towns which were in Vilna and Kovno gubernias, with a few towns from Suwalki gubernia as well. Prior
to conversion to digital format, the records were contained on 225 microfilms. There are approximately 200,000 unique images
and with an average of 4 records per page, there are approximately 800,000 records in total. This estimate is after subtracting
20% of the films to account for the approximate number of duplicate pages, register book cover pages, etc. The list of towns
represented was developed by FHL and JewishGen and posted to the JewishGen web site. Updates to this list have been required
and LitvakSIG maintains the current version of this information – more on that later.
The images provided to LitvakSIG are organized by the microfilm they came from, rather
than the town the records cover. LitvakSIG received the films as digital images and began translating various films. It was
immediately apparent this was not an efficient way to proceed, since records for many towns exist on a single film [sometimes
over 10 towns per film]. We have taken the 200,000 images and have reordered the images by town. We are now better able to
coordinate the translations on a town by town basis.
The beginning of the translation effort saw a few volunteer translators come forth, although
the primary need is for paid translators. The project is of such a large scope it is necessary to employ paid translators.
Some of the translations submitted by volunteers are of good quality, whereas others had to be scrapped. We are currently
reformatting and correcting some of the early work to save that which is useable.