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Vsia Rossiia - "All Russia" Business Directory

City of Odessa - 1895, 1899, 1903 and 1911
Compiled by Mark Grekin

This database includes 6878 entries from the 1895, 1899, 1903 and 1911 editions of the Russian business directory Vsia Rossiia ("All of Russia"), covering one of the largest industrial, commercial and cultural centers of that period in Russia - the city of Odessa - formerly in Kherson gubernia, now in Ukraine.

Of these 6878 entries, 786 entries are from the 1895 edition, 1371 entries are from the 1899 edition, 1219 entries are from the 1903 edition, and 3502 entries are from the 1911 edition.

The fields in this database are:

  • Surname: The individual's surname (last name).
  • Given Name: The individual's first name (given name).
  • Patronymic: The individual's father's first name (patronymic).
  • Occupation: What type of business or employment the individual was in.
  • Address: The individual's business or employment address.
  • Year: In which edition year this entry appears: 1895, 1899, 1903 or 1911.
  • Column #: In what column in Vsia Rossiia this entry is listed. (Instead of page numbering, column numbering is used in Vsia Rossiia, each page having from one to two to three columns).
  • Town, Uyezd, Gubernia: Town, district and province. For this database, it's always "Odessa", "Odessa", and "Kherson".

The modified Library of Congress system named Russian Transliteration table was used for the Russian transliterations. A copy of the table can be found at http://lcweb.loc.gov/catdir/cpso/romanization/russian.pdf.

Use of this table results in some names which may at first appear unfamiliar:

  • The Russian letter "X" is transliterated as "Kh", therefore, Chaim becomes the less familiar Khaim.
  • Letter combination "ia" is used to transliterate sound "yä" as in "yard".
  • Letter combination "iu" is used to transliterate sound "yoo" as in "Utah"
  • Letter combination "ts" is used to transliterate sound "ts" as in "tsunami".
  • Letter combination "shch" is used to transliterate combined sound of "sch" (as in the Yiddish word "schtick") + "ch" (as in "check").
  • Letter combination "ii" is used to transliterate ending sound in surnames of Russian and Polish origin such as Nikolaevskii, Siniavskii, Yaworsky, Jaruselsky, Brzhesinsky.
  • Just as a tilde (~) is used in Spanish over letter "n" to indicate a soft (palatal) nasal sound of this letter (e.g. "señor"), the Russians use a special letter that resembles the English lower case "p" turned upside down (b). This letter in transliteration is represented by symbol " ' " (e.g. El'ia, Mel') and shows that the preceding letter (always a consonant) should be pronounced softly. You'll find this symbol often while working with this database.

Street Names:

The researcher should keep in mind that if the business address is a street, the word "street" ("ulitsa" in Russian) doesn't appear in the address (e.g. "Pochtovaia Ulitsa" will only be written as "Pochtovaia").

But, if a place in the city is something other than a street, the name of this place or thoroughfare would be followed by its proper abbreviation in English that is equivalent to its Russian counterpart (e.g. Pochtovaia sq. (square) = Pochtovaia pl. (ploshchad'); Nikoleevskii blvd. (boulevard) = Nikolaevskii bl. (bul'var), etc.).

The following is a list of words and abbreviations being used in the address column and their (abbreviations) full meaning:

    English                             Russian
    blvd. (boulevard)                   bl. (bul'var).
    sq. (square)                        pl. (ploshchad')
    lane                                per. (pereulok)
    dwnhill (downhill)                  sp. (spusk)
    rd. (road)                          dr. (doroga)
    pr. (prospect)                      pr. (prospekt)
    hwy. (tar-bound road)               sh. (shosse)
    estuary                             liman
    prv. resid. (private residence)     s.d. (sobstvennyi dom)
    bldg. (building)                    d. (dom)
    stall                               balag. (balagan) or lit. (litera)
    bridge                              most
    row                                 riad

Capital letter "B" in street names is abbreviation for "Bol'shaia", meaning "big".
Capital letter "M" in street names is abbreviation for "Malaia", meaning "small".
(For example: "B. Arnautskaia" = "Bol'shaia Arnautskaia"; "M. Fontan" = "Malyi Fontan").

Occupations:

To complete this database a special Russian-English Dictionary for specific, and sometimes archaic, terms used in industry, trade and technology has been created.  This list has approximately 780 entries.  Those who are interested in getting acquainted with the dictionary should contact Mark Grekin at markgrekin@aol.com.

About Vsia Rossiia:

The organization of Vsia Rossiia is described in the article "Russian Business Directories" by Harry D. Boonin, in Avotaynu, Volume VI, Number 4 (Winter 1990), pages 23-32.

Vsia Rossia ("All of Russia") is a business directory covering all of Russia. The portion indexed is arranged by guberniias (provinces), then by uyezd (district) within each guberniya.  For each guberniia, the central (capital) city is listed first; then come listings for its outlying areas; finally, there are separate listings for any town with sufficient listings to justify it.  Within each listing, government officials come first, then manufacturing trades in Cyrillic alphabetical order, then retail trades.

Each entry in Vsia Rossiia, within government, manufacturing and retail trades listings, begins with the surname in capital letters.  This is followed by the given name, which may or may not be abbreviated, and then the patronymic (father's given name) which is always abbreviated.  Some of the bewildering array of abbreviations is explained in Harry Boonin's 1990 Avotaynu article "Russian Business Directories" that was referred to above.

Little consistency is seen among the abbreviations - different sections of Vsia Rossiia have different abbreviations.  For easier use the database editor has expanded the abbreviated names to their full meaning whenever possible.

In some cases (especially in the 1911 edition) only initials for the given name and patronymic are provided which makes the task of the translators to distinguish Jew from non-Jew almost impossible.  When in doubt, a question mark follows last name (e.g.: Karpatnik ?).

A street address, where the business was located or the professional was working, follows.

The clerks (enumerators) who collected data used in "Vsia Rossiia" knew little about how Jewish given names should be spelled and relied more on hearing their pronunciation than on orthography.  Therefore, in many cases, you will find one and the same name spelled differently.  Several examples:

Leib = Leiba; Moshko = Moshka = Movsha; Motl = Motel'; Pinkhus = Pinkus; El'ia = Eli = Elias = Elik; Nukhim = Nakhum; Borukh = Borokh; Gilel' = Gelel'; Faivel = Faikel'; etc.

In some instances, streets names were also misspelled.  For example, in the 1903 edition, column 2148, the street name "Pishonovskaia" (correct) is spelled "Pizhonovskaia" (incorrect).

In the 1903 edition, column 2128, the street name "Mel'nichnaia (correct) is spelled "Mel'nich'ia" (incorrect).  In the 1895 edition, column 1605, the street name "Stepovaia" (correct) is spelled "Stepovskaia" (incorrect) and in the same column streets names "B. Arnautskaia" and "Gavannaia" (correct) are spelled "B. Ornautskaia" and "Gavanskaia" (incorrect).  In many places the street name "Avchinnikovskii" (correct) is spelled "Ovchinnikovskii" or "Ovchinnikov" (incorrect).  Every researcher using this database should be aware of this and anticipate that the name of his/her ancestor and/or their place of business may have been misspelled.

Even though each building was numbered, it was customary to address a building by the street where it was as well as by its owner's last name.  For example, using the same system here, we would refer to building #17 on Sunset Blvd (owned by Joe Jones) as "Sunset Blvd., Jones' bldg."

You may find many such addresses in 1895 and 1899 editions.

Further Reading: For more information about Russian Business Directories, see:

  • The article "Russian Business Directories", by Harry Boonin, in Avotaynu VI:4 (Winter 1990), pages 23-32.
  • The lecture "Russian Business Directories", by Ted Gostin, at the 15th Annual Summer Seminar on Jewish Genealogy, July 14-19, 1996, Boston.  Printed lecture notes including a directory inventory are available in the Seminar's syllabus, pages C-44 thru C-49 (available from JGSGB); and an audio tape of the lecture is available (from AudioTapes.com, 2911 Crabapple Lane, Hobart, IN 46324).

Odessa and its Jews as seen through Dates and Numbers

As a result of the Russo-Turkish war in the late 18th century, the Northern shore of the Black Sea became a part of Russia proper in 1789 and a new city, Odessa, was built on the ruins of a small Turkish fortress, Khadzhi-Bei. The new settlement gained city status in 1794. All the vital ingredients for the growth of a new city came together in Odessa. A mild climate, easy water connections to many foreign countries, a boom in industrial and construction developments and a liberal attitude by the local authorities toward newcomers attracted people of all nationalities, including Jews. Odessa became a new Babylon and a "Russian New York" where Russians and Ukrainians worked side-by-side with Greeks, Jews, Italians and many others.

This is reflected in the streets names such as Grecheskaia ulitsa (Greek street), Evreiskaia ulitsa (Jewish street) Ital'ianskaia ulitsa (Italian street), Frantsuzkii bul'var (French boulevard), Pol'skaia ulitsa (Polish street), Bolgarskaia ulitsa (Bulgarian street), etc.

When the Russians took Khadzhi-Bei they encountered only 6 Jews. In 1794 five Jewish families received plots to build houses and shops and in 1795 a Hevra Kaddisha (burial society) was founded.

In 1817 Odessa was granted duty free port status (the so-called "porto-franko") and the grain trade and other types of foreign trade where Jews were prominent developed rapidly.

The population growth in Odessa was: 2,319 citizens in 1795, 9,000 in 1830, 60,000 in 1845, 97,000 in 1852, 125,000 in 1866, 271,000 in 1887, 339,000 in 1892, 450,000 in 1902 and 552,000 in 1909.

In 1795 10% of Odessa's population was Jewish and increased rapidly. In 1845 20% (12,000) of the city's population was Jewish, reaching 30% (165,000) in 1909. Intensive pre-Revolution emigration and pogroms during the 1917 Revolution and subsequent civil war reduced the Jewish population. However, after the Revolution and with the ensuing abolishment of the Pale of Settlement, many Jews from small shtetlach moved to Odessa. According to the 1939 census, Odessa's Jewish population reached 180,000, while the total city population was 608,000.

From 1880 to 1920 Odessa was the fourth largest city in the Russian Empire (after St. Petersburg, Moscow and Warsaw) and was second only to Warsaw in Jewish population. By the beginning of the 20th century Odessa had become one of Russia's biggest ports, as well as a major industrial, scientific, cultural and health-resort center.

In 1890 Odessa exported 1,360,000 tons of grain and in 1895 2,000,000 tons were exported. In addition to being heavily involved in grain exporting, (in 1910 over 80% of the grain export companies were Jewish-owned) Jews in Odessa were engaged in the retail trade (56% of small shops were owned by the Jews), in crafts (63% of Odessa craftsmen were Jewish) and in finance (around 1900 70% of Odessa banks were administered by the Jews). Jews were also heavily represented in the medical and pharmaceutical professions (70% of the total in these professions being Jews) and in law (56% of the city's lawyers and lawyers' assistants were Jews).

But anti-Jewish outbreaks that were provoked by Russian and Ukrainian merchants and business people who viewed Jewish success with jealousy and concern and who were later joined by Russian government, that saw such outbreaks as a safety valve against revolutionary mood and anti-government feelings, became a strong stimulus to Odessa's Jews to immigrate to Palestine, Canada, USA and South America. For many years Odessa was known as a "gateway to Zion". There were pogroms in 1821, 1859, 1871, 1881 and 1905 the latter was the most severe with more than 300 Jews being murdered and thousands injured.

Acknowledgements:

A "thank you" goes to the people of the Odessa Study Group who helped financially: Bruce Greenberg, Marcia and Natasha Aronow, Elizabeth Shamroth, Sue Seales, Dan Frank, Olga Parker, Ernie Holzman, Judy Petersen, Lawrence S. Brail Sr., Mona Panitz, Ira Martel, Suzanne S. Waxman, Jane Lowenkron Foss, Mike Schutzel, Eli Hecht, Stacey Curry and Al Rosenfield.  Without your help this project would be impossible to realize.

The Vsia Rossiia - Odessa city translation team: Mark Grekin made paper copies from the microfilms of Vsia Rossiia at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Translated material was submitted by Jane Rollins, Mark Grekin, Alan Shuchat, Jerome Breslaw and Valerii Treppel.

Mark Grekin acted as a project leader, coordinator, proof-reader and introduction writer. He also translated 1911 edition of Vsia Rossiia in its entirety.

The Odessa Study Group would like to thank Carol Skydell, Warren Blatt, Michael Tobias and Gary Mokotoff for assisting with the computerization of this database.


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