Lithuania Jewish Records
|Lithuania Research Topics|
|Local Research Resources|
|Jewish Genealogy Research|
- 1 History
- 2 Maps of Lithuania
- 3 Jewish History in Lithuania
- 4 JewishGen.org Family Finder
- 5 Lithuania Jewish Records
- 6 The JewishGen Lithuania Databases
- 7 Miriam Weiner Routes to Roots Foundation
- 8 Archives of Lithuania
- 9 Archives and Libraries
- 10 Gazetteers
- 11 Research Guides
- 12 Collections
- 13 Records at the Family History Library
- 14 Online Resources
- 15 Types of Records
- 16 References
Before World war II, Lithuania had avery strong Jewish population. The Jewish population was about 150,000 people, which was more than 5% of the total population. Vilnius (Wilno) was home to a population of about 100,000 Jews which was nearly half of that cities population. This population was almost entirely wiped out during the Holocaust. Today the Jewish population is most likely less than 7,000 people. Many of those who survived the Holocaust have emigrated to other countries, such as Israel, United States, South Africa and Brazil, which all have communities of Jews of Lithuanian descent.
Maps of Lithuania
- To view present-day Lithuania at Google Maps, click here.
- For a Jewish population density map of Europe in 1900, click here.
- For a map showing the percentage of Jews in the Pale of Settlement and Congress Poland, c. 1905, click here.
- To view an additional historical map showing the historical percentage of Jews in governments, click here.
Definition of "Pale of Settlement" from Wikipedia.org:
The Pale of Settlement (Russian: Черта́ осе́длости, chertá osédlosti, Yiddish: דער תּחום-המושבֿ, der tkhum-ha-moyshəv, Hebrew: תְּחוּם הַמּוֹשָב, tḥùm ha-mosháv) was the term given to a region of Imperial Russia in which permanent residency by Jews was allowed and beyond which Jewish permanent residency was generally prohibited. It extended from the eastern pale, or demarcation line, to the western Russian border with the Kingdom of Prussia (later the German Empire) and with Austria-Hungary. The English term "pale" is derived from the Latin word "palus", a stake, extended to mean the area enclosed by a fence or boundary.
Jewish History in Lithuania
- Read the Wikipedia.org article Lithuanian Jews, by clicking here].
- Explore The YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe by clicking here.
JewishGen.org Family Finder
Find others, possibly cousins, searching for your family name in the same countries, cities, and villages. Search by clicking JewishGen Family Finder. Free registration required.
Lithuania Jewish Records
- Read a FamilySearch Wiki article about Lithuanian Jewish Records by clicking here. Includes great links!
The JewishGen Lithuania Databases
- More than 1.5 million records for Lithuania, from a variety of sources, including: vital records, Revision Lists, business directories, voter lists, Yizkor books, cemetery records, Holocaust sources, and more. This database includes the LitvakSIG “All Lithuania” Database. Requires free registration. To search, click here.
Miriam Weiner Routes to Roots Foundation
Data regarding locations of Lithuanian Jewish records originally published in books by Miriam Weiner is now on this website with periodic updates. Contains articles, essays, maps, archivist insights, and archival inventory for Jewish research in Lithuania. The website also contains a database of documents that is searchable by town. The search for documents in Eastern Europe ancestral towns is complicated, partly because of the destruction of documents during the Holocaust and changing borders and names. Only the first few letters of the town needs to be known, as all towns beginning with those letters will appear in the list. Some towns will even be cross-referenced with spelling variations or name changes. However, to determine the current spelling of a town, consult Where Once We Walked by Mokotoff and Sack (Avotaynu, 1991). The database will note the types of documents that has survived for that town, including army lists, Jewish vital records, family lists, census records, voter and tax lists, immigration documents, Holocaust material, school records, occupational lists, and more. The span of years covered by these documents and where to find them will also be provided. Records in the archives can be accessed on various websites or databases (such as JewishGen) in person at the archives, by writing to the archives directly, or by hiring a professional researcher to do the work. By consolidating data from five Eastern European countries, researchers can easily determine which records are kept by which archives or repositories.
- See Routes to Roots Foundation and hover over Lithuania for a Genealogical and Family History guide to Jewish and civil records in Eastern Europe
- See also the book, Jewish roots in Ukraine and Moldova by Miriam Weiner (FamilySearch Catalog call no. 947.71 F2w 1999)
Archives of Lithuania
- Visit the Office of the Chief Archivist of Lithuania website by clicking [http://www.archyvai.lt/en/news.html
- To view the Genealogical Search page at the archives, click here.
- To search for online Lithuanian vital records, click here.
Archives and Libraries
As we research our Jewish ancestors it is so important to know what records are available in Lithuania, and how to access them in the Lithuanian Archives. In the book Jewish vital records, revision lists, and other Jewish holdings in the Lithuanian Archives, Harold Rhode and Sallyann Sack have made that task much easier. This is a very important book for those researching in Lithuania.
When researching Jews in any country, and especially in those countries of Europe during WW II, it is important to identify the name of the ancestral town. The book The Litvaks: A Short History of the Jews in Lithuania, Dov Levin, has included a listing of Jewish communities from war time Lithuania. He has listed both the Lithuanian and Yiddish names of the communities.
Another source is Where Once We Walked- Revised Edition: A Guide to the Jewish Communities Destroyed in the Holocaust. This source lists the names of the towns with their varient spellings and also provides some information, such as the estimated population of the community pre-WWII.
Once the name of the ancestral home has been determined, the next step is to identify which records survive from that community. The Roots to Roots Foundation, has created a database that identifies these records and also where they are now located. The database includes the records of towns in Belarus, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland and Ukraine.
The Knowles Collection, is a collection of records of the Jewish people from all over the world. While it consists of five databases, the records from Lithuania will be added to the Jews of Europe database has they become available. Further information on the collection including announcements of updates can be fount at knowlescollection.blogspot.com.
Records at the Family History Library
- 1897 census of the Jews of Lithuania
- Metrical Books, 1837-1923, Vilnius
- Metrical Books: Kovna, 1822-1940
- JewishGen Lithuania Database is a multiple database search facility.
- JewishGen Internal Passport Database, 1919-1940
- Lithuanian Jewish Cemetery Project, is a project to record, document and preserve all of the information from the cemeteries that still exist within Lithuania. This is a valuable resorce for those trying to find their lost families.
Types of Records
- Civil registration. Jews can be found in civil registration. See Lithuania Civil Registration to learn more.
- Weiner, Miriam. "Eastern European Archival Database Planned". AVOTAYNU XVII no. 3 (Fall 2001): 3-5.