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Bessarabia Duma Voters List Database

· General Information about Duma Voter Lists
· Information Contained in Duma Voter Lists
· Transliteration Methods
· Validation Methods
· Names Processing
· Transliteration Problems
· Database Data
· Database Columns
· Acknowledgements
· Search the Database

This database contains the names of over 128,000 men of Bessarabia Gubernia (today, in Moldova and Ukraine) who were eligible to vote in the Russian parliamentary elections of 1906 and 1907.

Even if you are very familiar with Duma Voter Lists, it is very important that you read all of this explanatory material.  It is important to know what data the database contains, what transliteration method was used, what data is missing and other such information.  If you skip directly to the search engine, you may be misled by what results you get.  If there are any questions relating to the following discussion, the Duma Voter lists or the names, they should be addressed to Terry Lasky at talasky@comcast.net.

General Information about Duma Voter Lists

Duma Lists are lists of eligible voters for the Russian parliament (Duma) in the early 1900's.  There were four Duma election periods:

  • 1st Duma:  Jan 1906 to Apr 1906
  • 2nd Duma:  Dec 1906 to Feb 1907
  • 3rd Duma:  Sep 1907 to Oct 1907
  • 4th Duma:  Sep 1912 to Oct 1912

This database deals with the lists for the 2nd and 3rd Dumas.  The determination of what constituted an eligible voter varied from region to region and from Duma to Duma.  In all cases it was males over 24 years of age who also fit other criteria, usually property ownership.

Source of Duma Voter Lists

The Duma Lists were printed in the Guberniskie Vedomosti, which was the Russian gazette that dealt primarily with government and commercial business issues.  It was published every Wednesday and Saturday.  The Bessarabia voter lists were published in the Bessarabskie Guberniskie Vedomosti.  This newspaper is available on microfilm at the New York University Bobst Library, and at the Library of Congress [Microfilm (o) 2004/3002].  Both institutions have microfilms of all of the newspapers from 1874-1917, on 34 microfilm reels.  The Norman Ross Publishing Company is the maker of the microfilms of the Guberniskie Vedomosti.

Information Contained in Duma Voter Lists

The information contained in the Duma Voter Lists varied from region to region and from Duma to Duma.  The surname, given name and sometimes the patronymic (father's given name) were on all Duma Lists.  The city of residence or of the property was also explicitly listed, or was implicit in the list.  The qualification reason was often given (or was implicit).  The qualification reason could be that the person was male and over 24 or that he owned property or a business or some other reason.  When it had to do with business or property ownership, there was often a value of that property given in Rubles, or a size given in Desaytins (one desaytin = 2.7 acres).

Transliteration Methods

In order to insure that the transliteration was done the same for all of Bessarabia, rules had to be established.  The following rules were used by all of the transliterators:

  1. The information was taken exactly as transliterated.  There was no attempt to correct obvious spelling/printing errors or to make names look more like what would be expected.

  2. The "Journalistic" transliteration table was used to convert from Russian Cyrillic to Latin characters.  This is the same table used by most newspapers and periodicals.  There is also a Library of Congress (LOC) approach and several variations of both of these.  One of the other important transliteration tables was that used by Alexander Beider in his wonderful book A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire (Teaneck, NJ: Avotaynu, Inc., 1993).  The differences are minor, and the "Journalistic" method was chosen because it yields only letters (the others yield accented characters).  A comparison of just the differences between the "Journalistic", the "Library of Congress" and the "Beider" methods is shown below.

    Cyrillic
    Letter
    Journalistic Library of
    Congress
    Beider
    Й Y Y J
    Ь none none accent
    Ю YU IU YU
    Я YA IA YA
  3. See "Names Processing" for rules on handling the names.

Validation Methods

The validation methods varied from list to list, based upon the quality of the data and other criteria.   Some or all of the following were used on all of the lists:

  1. Lists were usually transliterated independently by two people.  The results were compared, and differences were checked a third time.  All names that had question marks were also rechecked.

  2. The 2nd and 3rd Duma lists for the same cities were checked against each other.   Since they were only nine months apart, the same names occurred on both (especially if the eligibility criteria was the same).  For instance, every name (except for ten of them) on the 3rd Duma list for the other cities in the Orgeyev District appeared on the 2nd Duma List also.  There were sometimes different spellings (and they were left that way), but this allowed for good cross-checking and determination of hard to read characters.  This also indicates that very few people moved into these areas in 1906 and 1907.   The reverse was not true — there were several hundred names on the 2nd Duma Lists that were not on the 3rd Duma Lists.  One would have to infer that these were probably the Jewish people who emigrated during that time period (or died).

  3. The given names (and separately, the patronyms and the surnames) were sorted into alphabetic order.  Any names with different spellings or with hard to read characters were looked at again and revalidated or fixed.

  4. Two books were used to help distinguish some of the surnames that were questionable:

    • Beider, Alexander, A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire.  (Teaneck, NJ: Avotaynu, Inc., 1993).
    • Unbegaun, Boris Ottakar, Russian Surnames.  (Oxford: Claredon Press, 1972).

Names Processing

It was necessary to establish rules for breaking up the names into surnames, given names and patronyms.   The following rules were used, although there are always exceptions to every rule.

  1. The first name found was always the surname.

  2. It was assumed that there was always at least one given name.  There were circumstances in which this came into question, but we always put the name following the surname into the given name column.

  3. The last name that was found (assuming it wasn't already used as a given name) was checked to see if it ended in -ov, -ev, -evich, -ovich and with a period (.).   If it did, then it was assumed to be a patronym (all of those suffixes stand for "son of").  The exception was any name that ended in one of those endings but the patronym was different — "Yakov" was not taken as a patronym (even though it ended in -ov), because the correct patronym of Yakov is "Yakovlev".

  4. All names between the given name and the patronym were considered to be additional given names.   There were a few exceptions where there were two patronyms.

  5. All names were put into the database, both Russian and Jewish.  There was no column of information that distinguished a person as Jewish or Russian or any other designation.   Trying to eliminate those that were Russian by their names was not considered practical.  There is no exact estimate of how many were Jewish vs. Russian, but it is a guess that in the Orgeyev District well over 50% were Jewish.

Transliteration Problems

Just like in any language, there are letters that look very much alike.  It was even more prevalent in this case, because the newspaper print in the early 1900's was not extremely good.   The transliteration was done using copies from microfilm that were copies of the original newspapers.  There was significant ink bleed and other problems with the copies.  The letters that gave the most trouble were и, н and п, which transliterate to "i", "n" and "p", respectively.  The Cyrillic characters look almost the same, and especially with all of the above problems.   It was usually easy to tell when the character was supposed to be a vowel, so the "i" did not cause as much of a problem.  However, it was very difficult in many circumstances to distinguish between the "p" and the "n".  The books listed in "Validation Methods #4" (above) proved to be invaluable in resolving some of these instances.   However, it is suggested that if you don't find a desired name that you substitute a "p" for an "n" (or vice-versa) and try again.  This does not apply to the first character of a name, because the surnames were grouped alphabetically and capital letters at the beginning of given names and patronyms were usually distinguishable.

There were other letters that caused some difficulty, but none to the same degree as the "p" and "n".   The letters "e" and "o" sometimes were hard to distinguish from each other, but a soundex search of the database will not be affected if these are incorrect.  The Cyrillic letters г and т (which transliterate to "g" and "t", respectively) also often looked alike, but didn't cause a huge problem.

There were cases in which it was obvious that a name was misspelled or misprinted.   Even though we were 95% sure that it was a mistake, we left it as it was.   We felt, and so does JewishGen, that any interpretation should be left to each person using the database, not to the transliterator.

Name Understanding

There are several points that must be understood when using this database and looking for names:

  1. These are transliterated from Russian, and thus look different than if they were transliterated from Hebrew.   The spelling will often not be what you expect in English (although the Daitch-Mokotoff system of searching should resolve almost all of those problems).

  2. There are some letters in the English language for which there is no equivalent in Russian Cyrillic.   The following letters will never be found in this database because there is no Cyrillic letter that can yield it:

    1. the letter C, except when followed by H (CH exists, but C alone does not)
    2. the letter H, except when found in the combination KH, CH, ZH or SH.
    3. the letter J
    4. the letter Q
    5. the letter W
    6. the letter X

    Examples of some of the consequences of this are as follows:

    1. G instead of H   —   Hersh shows up as Gersh, Kohan as Kogan
    2. Y or I instead of J   —   Yakov for Jacob, Iosif for Joseph
    3. V instead of W   —   Volf for Wolf

Database Data

Bessarabia was divided into 8 (sometimes 9) districts for the purpose of the Duma elections.   These eight districts cover all of Moldova today and portions of the Ukraine.   The districts (and only the main cities in each one) are as listed in the table below.  The Izmail District sometimes contained the Kagul District and at other times they were separate — they are listed as a single district in the table below.  Each district has an entry for each main town and also an entry that covers the rest of the district (the smaller villages and farming communities).  Those towns that have been completed will have values in the 2nd and/or 3rd Duma columns indicating the number of voters.  The "Jewish population 1897", "Total population 1897" and "Percent Jewish 1897" are taken from Evreiskaia Entsiklopediia (Jewish Encyclopedia), St. Petersburg, 1906, and are rounded census figures from 1897.

It should be noted that the number of voters from the small towns and villages were much smaller (percentage-wise).  This is because only the landowners could vote and most had large land holdings with many workers – the workers couldn’t vote.  There was also a much smaller percentage of Jews in the farming communities because most Jews were in the trades (not farmers or farm workers) and because Jews were prohibited from owning land in many of the districts.

District Main Cities (Current Name) Current location 2nd Duma 3rd Duma Jewish population 1897 Total population 1897 Percent Jewish 1897
Akkerman Akkerman (Belgorod Dnestrovskiy / Bilhorod-Dnistrovs'kyy) Ukraine 5,538 5,254 5,625 28,250 20%
rest of uyezd Ukraine 4,115 1,703 6,700 236,750 3%
Bieltsy Beltsy (Bălţi / Bel'tsy) Moldova 2,628 1,995 10,350 18,475 56%
Foleshty (Făleşti) Moldova 641 623 4,525 6,675 68%
Ryshanovka (Rişcani) Moldova 410 394 2,250 3,250 69%
Skulyany (Sculeni) Moldova 368 322 1,550 3,375 46%
rest of uyezd Moldova 3,344 2,264 8,650 179,675 5%
Bendery Bendery (Bender / Tighina) Moldova 4,357 3,836 10,650 31,800 33%
Kaushany (Căuşeni) Moldova 101 199 1,675 3,725 45%
Romanovka (Basarabeasca) Moldova 202 173 1,150 1,625 71%
Chimishliya (Cimişlia) Moldova 61 84 750 4,350 17%
rest of uyezd Moldova 1,944 1,214 2,425 150,400 2%
Izmail / Kagul Izmail (Izmayil) Ukraine 2,302 2,756 2,775 21,900 13%
Kiliya (Kiliya) Ukraine 2,119 1,755 2,150 11,575 19%
Bolgrad (Bolhrad) Ukraine 1,789 826 1,200 12,325 10%
Reni (Reni) Ukraine 970 656 725 5,100 14%
Kagul (Cahul) Moldova 622 320 800 7,025 11%
rest of uyezd both 3,297 3,460 4,100 177,075 2%
Khotin Khotin (Khotin) Ukraine 4,529 3,778 9,300 18,000 52%
Novoselitsy (Novosel'tsy) Ukraine 267 266 3,900 5,900 66%
Sekuryany (Sokiryany) Ukraine 383 383 5,050 8,975 56%
Brichany (Briceni) Moldova 628 628 7,175 7,450 96%
Lipkany (Lipcani) Moldova 462 462 4,400 6,875 64%
Yedintsy (Edineţ) Moldova 671 671 7,375 10,200 72%
rest of uyezd both 541 381 10,800 242,600 4%
Kishinev Kishinev (Chişinău) Moldova 14,000 10,097 50,250 108,500 46%
Ganchesty (Hînceşti) Moldova 796 550 2,225 5,050 44%
rest of uyezd Moldova 1,681 1,544 2,450 166,500 1%
Orgieev Orgeyev (Orhei) Moldova 2,941 2,577 7,150 12,350 58%
Tuzora (Tuzara / Călăraşi) Moldova 349 355 4,600 5,150 89%
Rezina (Rezina) Moldova 218 208 3,175 3,650 87%
Teleneshty (Teleneşti) Moldova 412 396 3,875 4,375 89%
Kriulyany (Criuleni) Moldova 72 65 350 2,050 17%
rest of uyezd Moldova 422 349 7,575 185,500 4%
Soroki Soroki (Soroca) Moldova 3,500 2,768 8,775 15,350 57%
Ataki (Otaci) Moldova 300 267 4,700 6,975 67%
rest of uyezd Moldova 5,367 2,225 17,525 195,675 9%
 
Totals Main Towns 51,636 42,664 168,475 380,300 44%
Rest of Uyezds 20,711 13,140 60,225 1,534,175 4%
Bessarabia Total 72,347 55,804 228,700 1,914,475 12%

There were two known columns of the data that were missing from the newspaper.  One covered data from the 2nd Duma for the four smaller towns in the Orgeyev District (Orgeyev was a separate list).  The missing names started with the letters D, E, I, Z and part of K.  It is estimated that 100 names were missing.  The other was from the town of Vylkove, Ukraine (2nd Duma) and was missing names starting with S, T, U and F.  It is estimated that 100 names were missing.

Database Columns

The database contains the following columns of information:

  • Item — An identification which allows the transliteration team to find the original entry.

  • Name — Surname and Given Name

  • Patronym — The father's Given Name

  • Qualification Reason — the reason why the person was an eligible voter.  A person had to be a male, over 24 years old and meet at least one other criteria.  There are two different groupings of criteria: One for the main cities (those listed in the table above); and one for the smaller villages and farming communities (“rest of uyezd” in the table above).  There are also a few additional codes that are used to supply extra information.

    • d.   -   Property owner (home, real estate, building, other immovable property, etc.)
    • dg.   -   Property owner (value must be greater than 300 rubles)
    • kn.   -   Owns apartment (pays apartment tax)
    • kv.   -   Tenant (rents and apartment and pays apartment tax)
    • kns.   -   Lives in separate apartments and doesn’t pay tax??
    • lpz.   -   Personal trade occupation (craftsman, tailor, etc.)
    • t.   -   Trade/Commerce (owns shop, trader, merchant, dealer, etc.)
    • tp.   -   Trade/Industry (t. or owns factory)
    • tpl.   -   Pays business tax (t., tp. or lpz.)
    • ch.   -   Office worker (professional in government, public or estate organization)
    • p.   -   Pensioner (receives pension from government, public or estate organization)
    • cr.   -   Clergyman
    • v.   -   Unspecified (one of the above)

    The criteria for the small villages and farming communities is as listed below and any value (except for the code d.) specified is the size of the land in desaytins. A desaytin is equal is 2.7 acres of land.

    • l.   -   Landowner
    • lm.   -   Land Manager (manages the land on behalf of the owner)
    • lt.   -   Tenant/Lessee (Leases the land from the owner)
    • c.   -   Clergyman
    • d.   -   Owns immovable property (buildings, real estate, windmills, etc.) – value is in rubles

    There are several additional codes which are used to further explain the voter’s eligibility. If a woman qualified to vote she was not allowed to, but she could allow her spouse or a male son (who wouldn’t otherwise qualify) to vote for her.

    • (pdz.)   -   Authorized to vote for his wife
    • (pdo.)   -   Authorized to vote for his father
    • (pdm.)   -   Authorized to vote for his mother
    • **   -   There is more information available on this person’s eligibility

  • Town - Russian Name — The name of the town of residence or property/business.   This is the name as transliterated and used by the Russians in 1906-07.

  • Town - Modern Name — The current modern native name of the town.  This is the Moldovan or Ukrainian name as it exists today, after the breakup of the Soviet Union.  This is obviously not found in the original Duma list, but has been added as an aid in searching since town names often changed.  To help with locating smaller villages, the Country (Mold. or Ukr.) has also been added as a separate "Country" column.  Every attempt has been made to identify the correct town, but no guarantee is given that all are correct.

  • Uyezd — The name of the Bessarabian District.  The eight uyezds were: Akkerman, Bieltsy, Bendery, Izmail, Khotin, Kishinev, Orgieev, Soroki.

  • Country — The country where the town is located today — either "Ukr." (Ukraine) or "Mold." (Moldova).

  • Year — The year in which this Duma election occurred.  If the list was for the 2nd Duma then the year is 1906; if it was for the 3rd Duma then it was 1907.

Illegible / Missing Data: It was necessary to be able to indicate when data was missing, when it was questionable and when it was unreadable.  We used the method suggested by JewishGen to specify these conditions.  They are as follows:

  • "?"   —   means that the name was totally unreadable.
  • "Name?"   —   means that we believe the name is correct but there is some doubt.
  • "-"   —   means that no name or value was supplied for this entry.
  • "Name1? / Name2?"   —   means that it is one of these names.
  • "Na...e"   —   means that the letter(s) in the ... part of the name were unreadable.

Acknowledgements

A lot of effort was put in by the people who worked this task and I thank them for all of their effort.  Everyone acted as both transliterator and as a data entry person.  The people responsible for this work are as follows:

  • Project Coordinator: Terry Lasky.
  • Primary Transliterator/Data Entry:  Claire Stuart, Leslie Oberman, Paula Zieselman, Harry Green and Terry Lasky.
  • Support Transliterator/Data Entry: Nathen Gabriel, Deborah Schultz and Roberta Solit.
  • Final Validation:  Terry Lasky.
  • Russian Translation: Inna Smolov, Boris Bayevsky.
  • Support:  Rosanne Leeson, Alan Weiser, Warren Blatt, Michael Tobias, Joyce Field and the rest of the JewishGen staff.

Any questions about this data or a particular name should be sent to Terry Lasky at talasky@comcast.net.


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