Russification: Keeping the Records in Russian

The multi-ethnicity of the Kingdom of Poland resulted in many different peoples living under one government. (See previous posts.) Most of these Poles, Lithuanians, Germans, and Ruthenians were virtually serfs tied to the land as serfdom was not abolished in Russian Poland until 1864, even then with conditions. (See the timeline in a previous post.) Even though they were subjects of the Czar, some still desired a national identity. Insurrections among both the Poles and Lithuanians in 1830-31 and 1863-64 resulted in an imperial crackdown. Native languages were discouraged, newspapers were banned, and Russian became the “official” language as a way to bury the other cultures. This effort was known as “Russification” – all things Russian.[i]

So the standard narrative of the Napoleonic format remained, but the records were written in Russian, not Polish. Here is an example of one of the first of these records in Russian from this -at family. The number 56 on the right shows that it was the 56th birth record recorded that year. The number on the left reflects the alphabetical listing for that year.

Alphabetical Register of Births in Wylkowiszki in 1870 [ii]

Adolph Spurgat Birth Register in Russian

Alphabetical Register of Births  in Wilkowiszki 1870

This excerpt from the death register shows Anna Spurgat for the year 1874.The number on the right shows that it was the 40th death record recorded that year. The number on the left reflects the annual alphabetical listing of the record.

Alphabetical Register of Deaths in Wylkowiszki in 1874

1874 Anna Spurgat Death in Russian

Alphabetical Register of Deaths in Wilkowiszki 1874

[i] Russification, online <>, data downloaded 22 January 2008.

[ii] Kopie księg metrykalnych, 1843-1898: microfilm no. 0905265, no. 56 (1870), Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.


About suwalkigermans

I started family research in 1993. My first two books focused on my maternal grandparents. Both families came from Kreis Rosenberg, West Prussia, to Big Rapids, Michigan. I left the Spurgats from Wylkowiszki in the Russian Empire as the third book because of the difficult and challenging research it required. After I published the book in 2010, I wondered what to do next. I thought I might try to share some of my research with others and maybe at the same time, by going digital, someone would find me. When you read the comments, you will see that happened. The best part of all this is helping others.
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