How to search epaveldas.lt

Introduction

epaveldas.lt is a Lithuanian project to preserve and share Lithuanian cultural heritage. The name itself is an abbreviation of "elektroninis paveldas" - "electronic heritage". Among other things, it contains scans of church records of many Lithuanian (and some Belorussian) Roman Catholic churches, making it a valuable resource for anyone researching their Lithuanian lineage.

Unfortunately, current user interface does not make it easy for someone not familiar with Lithuanian language to search the records. This site (which is not associated with epaveldas in any way) attempts to provide advice and additional information, allowing English speakers to find records there, at least to some extent.

It is important to recognize that the set of church books is not complete. They are working on scanning the books and making them available online, but not all the books held at Lithuanian State Archives are currently online. If you know the location and date of the event which interests you, and you are unable to find the records on epaveldas using instructions below, you might have better luck contacting the Archives to get necessary information.

See Office of the Chief Archivist of Lithuania website for information on how to request copies of vital records from the archives.

Records

One of the complications is that records come in a variety of languages. Records from 18th century and earlier are generally in Latin, with Polish becoming prevalent at the end of 18th - beginning of 19th century. By mid-19th century all church books switched to Russian, as at that time most of the territory of modern Lithuania was part of the Russian empire. There is a short period during World War I when Lithuania was under German control, so some church records (and other official documents) from that time may be in German. In 1918 Lithuania declared independence, and from that point on the records should be predominantly in Lithuanian, apart from the south-eastern part, which remained under Polish control.

The records are generally not indexed, meaning that there is no way to just search for a particular name, one has to flip through the scanned pages in order to locate a specific record. In some church books an alphabetical list of births/deaths/marriages is provided at the end of each year, this makes search for a specific name significantly easier, as one can quickly scan such lists for many years looking for the matches. If alphabetical lists are not provided in a given church book, the only option, if exact date of birth is not known, is to scan through all records for the year(s) of interest, which may be a bit tedious.

Sample baptism record in Russian

You can see a typical baptism record from Russian Empire times below. Most of the information is presented in three columns. The numbers on the left are sequence number of the record within given year (if there is an alphabetical list at the end of the year, it will reference this number), the date of birth, and the date of baptism. Note that the books are organized by date of baptism, so records for early February, for example, may include births in late January.

First column typically contains the information about the date of baptism, the church, the priest and the first name of the baby, commonly highlighted by writing it in larger letters, or underlining. Second column contains information about the parents, including the mother's maiden name, as well as date and place of birth. Again, it is common to highlight the last name of the husband. Third column contains information about the godparents.

Original Russian text and word-by-word translation, matching the format to the record above:

206. 1. 4. Тысяча восемьсотъ
девяностаго года ок-
тября четвертаго дня
въ Куршанскомъ Р.К.
приходскомъ Костелѣ
Настоятелем онаго
Кс. А. Эйдымтомъ ок-
решен младенецъ и-
менем Марта
со всѣми обрядами
таинства.
Крестьянъ Куршан-
ской волости Кази-
мира и Евы изъ По-
цюсовъ Тилени-
совъ
законныхъ суп-
руговъ дочь родивша-
яся сего 1890 года ок-
тября 1 дня въ дерев-
ни Покумульшахъ
Куршанскаго прихо-
да.
Воспрiем-
никами были
кресть-
яне: Ста-
ниславъ
Кластов-
скiй съ А-
нѣлiею
Антона Бар-
ташиса
супругою.
206. 1. 4. [In] One thousand eight hundred
ninetieth year [on] Oc-
tober fourth day
in Kurshany R[oman].C[atholic].
parish Church
[by] Dean of it
Pr[iest]. A. Eidymtas [was] bap-
tized baby n-
amed Marta
with all rites
of the sacrament.
[Of] Peasants [of] Kursha-
ny volost Casi-
mir and Eva of Po-
cius Tilen-
is
[who are] lawfully mar-
ried, daughter bo-
rn [on] this 1890 year Oc-
tober 1[st] day in villa-
ge Pokumulshi
[of] Kurshany pari-
sh.
Godpare-
nts were
peasan-
ts: Sta-
nislav
Klastov-
sky with A-
nele [, of]
Anton Bar-
tashis
wife.

If you are only interested in first/last name of the newborn, you can scan the records quickly for the highlighted first name in the first column, and highlighted father's last name in the second column, even if you don't know much Russian. It was also pretty common to write the last name of the baby (or the groom, for the marriage records) on the book margin in larger script, next to the complete record. This is very convenient for quickly looking for a particular name, as the pages can be flipped in the epaveldas viewer using the "flip image" buttons for quick reading of these margin notes:

Note that the names of the parents are usually written in the following order: [father's first name] [mother's first name] изъ [mother's maiden last name] [father's last name]. The names are written using Russian grammar rules, so don't expect exact match, your best bet is to look for something which sounds approximately like the name your are after. In order to do that you will need to figure out how to pronounce the name in the record, here are some resoures to help with that, both for Russian and other languages:

Handwriting is likely to pose the most problems, but the above-listed guides can help with the script. Another problem is the Polonization, Latinization, or Russification of the personal names and surnames. For example, the surname Valinčius may be Polonized to Walinczow or Kleinauskas to Klynowski.

For personal (first) names, check out Vardų Žinynas (Name Reference). This page can help you translate the Latin, Polish, or Russian version of a name into its Lithuanian equivalent. Note: the page is ordered alphabetically by Lithuanian names, displayed in the right-hand column. It is split into separate pages by starting letter range, use navigational panel on the left to jump to the relevant sub-page.

For last names, you can use Pavardžių Duomenų Bazė (Last Name Database). Just start typing the candidate last name into the "Pavardė" box, and possible matches will be presented. After selecting the last name of interest, click "Ieškoti" (Search), to get to the results page. On that page you can click "Išskleisti" (Unfold) to display a list of places in Lithuania where this last name has been noted. The geographical distribution data was collected during Lithuania's independence period between First and Second World Wars.

For help with matching the old birth place name to a modern location, see Finding places in Lithuania.

Instructions

Map of places with church records on epaveldas

Loading...

Credits


Questions, comments, suggestions? info at gen wooyd org