Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Kaunas County Archives

I may be turning into a geneologist. I have 13 pages of notes from two hours with Vitaglia, the world expert on Kaunas archives.  And it is all fascinating to me. 
I learned about feudal classifications, tax registrations numbers (Jews paid extra taxes, for candles and other ritual items), revision lists, military lists, who got internal passports with pictures, foreign booklet passports, election of rabbis (often there were two, the official state rabbi who kept records and the religious rabbi.)

From 1827, all men were required to serve a mandatory, short military service. if a peasant were resistant to a landlord, that service could be extended as a punishment and the extensions were as long 25 years. they were shortened to 4 years in the 1874 military reform. 
For most Lithuanian boys, the age they could be "recruited" ("punished" is a more accurate word)  was at 17. 
For Jews, boys as young as 12 years old could be recruited to military service terms of 25 years at the  whim of a landlord.

1858 was a good year for the Jews. That is when the Emperor visited Kaunas. The Emperor was not satisfiedwith the rate at which fine buildings were going up in the city center. hearing there were rich Jewish merchants elsewhere in the city, he immediately lifted the exclusion ban and Jews could live anywhere they could afford in Kaunas.

I got a copy of the 1887 revision list, my grandmother was 16 years old, her sister Mere 18 years old, and sister Hana was no longer at home, 31 years old. mother 55, father 59.
However, in the 1874 revision, the age difference between parents is 6 years.

I never knew that my grandmother was the youngest of three daughters, one much older and two closer in age, just like me. 

The document confirms that my grandmother was a shockingly old mother for her time, She was 44 years old when her only son was born, just like Sharon.
Life is a circle.

Vitaglia also gave me contact information to the state archives and historical archives for possible marriage certificate (not likely, should check the Paris archives for that) and medical school records (Simon kindly offered to do that for me.)

Some of the 1.3 million records which have travelled back and forth between Lithuania and Russia several times, depending who was in power. Vitaglia has handled every document.

 Germans were not interested in the records and during times of their occupation, and paper and fuel was in such short supply, Nazis permitted people to take paper from the archives for anything from burning for fuel, wrapping herring, and toilet paper.

great old map.

1 comment:

  1. My father's medical records are held at the academy of medicine near mt. Sinai hospital in NYC according to my mother. My father needed them to practice medicine in the US and he was able to get them with the help of a communist who worked at the printing press where they printed.