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Uncategorized | April 25, 2014
How Borisov’s Jews saved Napoleon in 1812

In November of 1812, the Russian army surrounded French troops at the Berezino River in shtetl Borisov, Minsk guberniya. French General Ebel decided that that the only possible escape for the French was to cross the Berezino, so he created a plan. He gathered 10 local Jews and asked them to indicate where this river was most shallow, so that…

Uncategorized | March 25, 2014
1912 Brest-Litovsk. Business avenue that people in the society didn’t discuss out loud

The issue of prostitution is as old as this world. In Russian empire prostitution was legalized in 1843. The first attempt to count the amount of brothels in Russian Empire was taken in 1889.  According to the records at that time there was 1,216 officially legalized brothels with 7,840 women with permission to work there.   Together with street prostitutes who…

Uncategorized | March 16, 2014
1911 List of Jewish Horticulturists in the Mogilev Guberniya

Within the Pale of Settlement, horticulture was not a typical Jewish enterprise or field of endeavor.  There were several obstacles to establishing a horticultural business.   Not only were Jews’ rights to own land limited, but they also needed a significant amount of capital for the initial investment and beyond.  In addition, uncontrollable natural causes and weather could heavily impact the…

Uncategorized | March 5, 2014
1922 Financial help to Yeshivas in Eastern Europe

After the 1917 revolution in the Russian Empire, the Institution of Jewish Education became the most vulnerable and effected by economical instability. Regular local donors were not able to support Jewish schools and yeshivas anymore, and head of yeshivas reached out to American Jews with the request of financial help. Beginning from 1921 this type of help was established, and…

Uncategorized | February 21, 2014
1892 History of Grodno Synagogues

We would like to let you know that we recently found an 1892 list of Grodno synagogues that were registered as prayer houses.  (Please note that the government authorities often referred to synagogues as “prayer houses”.) This list contains the following information:  the name of each synagogue, its location and the year construction was finished. There are 31 entries, including…

Uncategorized | January 29, 2014
Hotel alternatives in Belarus

For those of you who have plans to travel to Belarus in the first half of May.  The world hockey championship will be held in Minsk on May. More than 20,000 visitors are expected to come to Minsk during that time. Almost all hotels in Minsk are already booked for those dates. But this fact shouldn’t result in cancellation or modification of your travel…

Uncategorized | January 29, 2014
List of the richest merchants in Belarus (1913)

In 1913 Russian empire had reached a pinnacle of it’s economical development. The country was number one in exporting eggs, flux and butter. It was the year when Russia had started exporting grains, coal and steel.  A new layer of very reach people had shaped. Belorussian historians found out 50 most wealthy businessmen who were born of current Belorussian territory….

Uncategorized | January 28, 2014
Collection of passports from Brest Uezd (1906-1907) recently found in Grodno archive

Just recently in Grodno historical archive we have discovered a 23 original foreign passports for residents of Brest uezd (most of them were from shtetl Vysoko-Litovsk). These passports were issued to people who left abroad during the second half of 1906 or first half 1907. At that time passports were issued for 6 months, and if people weren’t going to return home…