1898 Census of the Jewish Population
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Podu Iloaiei (Podul-Iloaei), a small and poor town in the Moldavian region of Romania, does not appear on many maps. It is about 17 miles west and slightly north of the famous city of Iaşi, at 47°13' 27°16'. Yet a book of of 168 closely-printed pages about this town's Jewish life was published in 1990, describing (in Romanian) its history, local economy, cultural activities, synagogues, rabbinical traditions, etc. Of special interest to genealogists, the book also contains several censuses of the Jews living in this town. The earliest was dated 1824 and the latest 1898. It is the 1898 census, consisting of some 723 names and taking up just 26 pages, which has been extracted, translated and presented here. In addition, the entire book has now been translated through the dedicated efforts of Nat Abramowitz, KM Elias, Catherine Richter, Eugene Hriscu, and Dana Melnic. It will be available shortly on the JewishGen Yizkor Book site.
The census information within this database was extracted from the Romanian State Archives in Iaşi, by Dr. Itic Svart-Kara and in 1990 was published in his book Obstea Evreiasca din...Podu Iloaiei (Pages from the history of a Moldavian Shtetl). It was later translated into English and made available to the late Sam Elpern z”l and ROM-SIG by the late Nat Abramowitz z”l, of Westmont, NJ. A reduced version was then published in the now defunct publication, ROM-SIG News, Vol.5, No.2, Winter 1996-97. The current electronic version, from which this database was created, is thanks to the dedicated efforts of KM Elias, of Toronto.
This database includes 723 records from the 1898 Census. The fields of the database are as follows:
Conmments: Within the Comments column, one finds references to “Russian Subject”, or “Austrian Subject”. These are references to individuals who were called Sudits. They were foreigners living in Romania during the 19th century, under the diplomatic and legal protection of a foreign government, granted special economic privileges through treaties with the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.
General: The Census table has a number of inconsistencies that we are not able to explain. Some may have been misreadings by Dr. Kara from the original handwritten records. For example, some males are listed as being “vaduva”, which means a widow, not widower. And, to the contrary there appear to be two women listed, one as a spouse. Since the word “vaduva” is used again, it is possible that one was a sister who was a widow, living with a sister. It is impossible to tell at this remove. Two males, aged 21 and 28 respectively have “wives” listed as 52 and 60. Again, it is possible that these were their mothers. We cannot tell.
The task of translating the 1898 Census was a truly communal one: Nat Abramowitz did most of the translation, but several of the archaic words for various occupations were unknown to him. Words were sent out over the internet to over 140 ROM-SIG members and elicited many replies. In particular, Sandi Goldsmith just "happened" to be in Bucharest and engaged the entire staff of her husband's branch office in solving the definitions. Also, Marcel and Mary Bratu pulled out their own ancient dictionary and defined many of the words. Later Prof. Ladislau Gyemant, Terry Lasky, Susanna Vendel and Paula Zieselman added to the definitions of occupations found in Romanian censuses, and this list can now be found in the JewishGen InfoFiles at: http://www.jewishgen.org/InfoFiles/RomanianOccs.htm.
In addition, thanks to JewishGen Inc. for providing the website and database expertise to make this database accessible. Special thanks to Susan King, Warren Blatt and Michael Tobias for their continued contributions to Jewish genealogy.
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