I’m declaring yesterday as Slonim Sunday (I somehow always seem to get behind when blogging…). Slonim is the town in which my grandma Sophie Klebanskaya was born in 1895. It was in Poland then, and she and her family spoke Polish (not Yiddish) at home. Today it is located in Belarus.
Something exciting and Slonim related happened to me last week. Somehow (and I’m kicking myself that I didn’t write it down) I found that several new digital sources about Slonim had been posted to the Russian Goernment Library Online Review of Documents site (http://dlib.rsl.ru). These sources are called Adres’-Kalendar’, a cross between a city directory (like a telephone directory, but before telephones were widely available) and an almanac. The documents cover several uezds (districts) besides Slonim, all located within the Grodno guberniya (province): Sokolka, Bialystok, Belz, Brest, Kobrin, Pruzhany, and Volkovysk.
Individuals are listed if they owned a business, had a profession, or provided a service (like teaching) to the community. Individuals are listed under the category of business/service they provided, somewhat like a yellow pages phone directory does today (for those of you who know what yellow pages are). The books included calendars of local secular events, and separate calendars for Roman Catholic/Lutheran, Muslim, and Jewish events for the year.
The ones I found online were published in:
- 1903 (http://dlib.rsl.ru/viewer/01003831224#?page=1)
- 1911 (http://dlib.rsl.ru/viewer/01003831215#?page=1)
- 1915 (http://dlib.rsl.ru/viewer/01003831212#?page=1)
Until these documents appeared, I had no tangible evidence that my grandmother’s mother (Anna Vatnika Klebanskaya) or older sister, Manya Klebanskaya, ever existed in Slonim. I had a listing for my great-grandfather Klebansky as a store owner in 1899, and a few pictures of Anna in Israel in 1952, but no documents. The documents are searchable if you have name available in Cyrillic. So I pasted in the name Klebansky (derived from Stee Morse’s English into Russian tool at www.stevemorse.org) and – shazaam!
In the 1911 and 1915 books, there was a listing for great-grandma Anna as a teacher in the local girl’s school. There was also a listing for Masha (a Russian nickname for Manya) Klebanskaya, listed as a dentist. Grandma Sophie had told me Manya was a dentist, but I did not know that Manya lived in the town of Svisloch. Now I do.