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The First World War in Belarus

National Historical Archives of Belarus in Minsk

Description of holdings

Amount of holdings: 3 161 fonds, 23 collections in electronic media, 1 020 407 items

Chronological scope: the 14th—early 20th centuries, parish vital records before the early 1940s

Geographical coverage:

  • Grand Duchy of Lithuania
  • Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (Rzeczpospolita)
  • Belarusian, Vitebsk, Minsk, Polotsk and Mogilev gubernias (provinces) of the Russian Empire

Historical records held in the Archives can be divided into two parts:

  • for the whole territory of present-day Belarus—records of the 14th - late18th centuries
  • for the Vitebsk, Minsk, and Mogilev provinces of the Russian Empire—records of the late 18th - early 20th centuries

Genealogical records held in the Archives cover the following regions of Belarus:
  • the whole territory of Belarus within its historical boundaries—records of the 16th - late 18th centuries
  • Vitebsk, Minsk and Mogilev provinces within their historical boundaries—records of the late 18th - early 20th centuries 
  • Vileika, Disna and Oshmiany districts of the Vilno (Vilnius) province (within the boundaries of present-day Minsk Region)—records of the late 19th - early 20th centuries; Sventsiany district—records of the late 18th - early 20th centuries.
  • Brest, Volkovysk, Kobrin, Pruzhany and Slonim districts of the Grodno province (within the boundaries of present-day Brest Region)—records of the late 19th - early 20th centuries  

NOTE: Most of the records for the Vileika, Disna, Lida, Oshmiany, and Sventsiany districts of the Vilno (Vilnius) province--until early 20th century--are held at the Central State Historical Archives of Lithuania: 10, Gerosios Vilties, Vilnius, 2009, Lietuva; for the Grodno province--at the National Historical Archives of Belarus in Grodno: 2, Tizengauza Sq., 230023, Grodno, Belarus.

Contents:

The National Historical Archives of Belarus contains records initially held in the judicial archives of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (Rzeczpospolita), and after the inclusion of Belarus into the Russian Empire in the archives of civil courts, magistrats (town councils), town halls, district courts, private individuals, and also in the Vilnius Early Records Archives and the Vitebsk Early Records Archives.

The Archives holds unique records of national heritage, which illustrate the political, social, economic, and cultural history of the Belarusian people. The earliest of them are the original parchments of the 14th - 17th centuries, written in ancient Belarusian, Polish and Latin languages. These are records of grants from Polish kings and grand princes of Lithuania & charters of diplomatic and domestic significance. These include the charter of princes Fedor and Konstantin Koriatovich of June 20, 1391 confirming the right of the landlord Grinko to the possession of the town of Sokolets; deed of purchase between the royal nobleman V. N. Branets and O. V. Kostiushkevich for part of land on the estates of Mochul, Ramel and Perekhodichi in the Pinsk district, dated May 7, 1514; deed of purchase of the estate of Glusk from Prince Chartoryiski to the Slonim Marshal Aleksander Polubinski, dated June 4, 1626 (signed, among others, by an ancestor of Fedor Dostoevski); charters of the Magdeburg Right granted to the towns of Nesvizh (1586), Mozyr (1680), and others.

Of especial value are the Universal by Bogdan Khmelnitski (Chmielnicki) of May 7, 1656, conferring the right of free trade in Ukraine on the merchants of Slutsk; the 1416-44 register of deeds from the local court in Drogichin; law materials of town councils, local courts, and the Crown Tribunal in the Rzeczpospolita, treasury courts in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Jesuit college in Vitebsk.

An important source for the history of the Belarusian village of the 16th - 1st half 19th centuries are the inventories of the state and landowners' estates.

The Archives retains records of the provincial chancelleries, provincial administration, chancelleries of civil governors, town councils, municipal administration, provincial commissions for construction, provincial administration on the industrial and mining affairs, provincial committees for landowners' inventories.

Among the archives' records are the family collections of the dukes Radziwill, Drutski-Lubetski, Lubomirski and Paskevich-Erivanski, the counts Pliater-Ziberg and Rumiantsev-Zadunaiski, etc.

The fonds of the educational, cultural & medical institutions, religious communities, public & charitable organizations contain documents on the opening of the teachers' colleges in Vitebsk, Minsk and Mogilev, agricultural educational institutions in Gorki, teachers' seminaries, male and female schools in Bobruisk, Gomel, Polotsk and Rogachev; on the creation and work of the Minsk Municipal Theatre (now the Ianka Kupala National Academic Theatre), libraries, hospitals, & drugstores; on the creation of the Belarusian Free Economic Society, Doctors' Society, Society of Fine Arts, Society of Animals Protection, the provincial trustee boards of the orphanages, etc.

The archives' records on the history of architectural monuments have been used in the design projects for the reconstruction of St. Sophia Cathedral in Polotsk, Mir Castle, the Palace of Oginski in Zalesie, the historical centres in Brest, Vitebsk, Minsk, Mogilev, Zaslavl, Nesvizh, Polotsk, and Novogrudok, as well as for numerous dwelling houses and industrial buildings.

The Archives also has documents concerning the construction and abolition of Minsk Cathedral, Belarusian abbeys, synagogues, Orthodox and Catholic churches, as well as inventories of their property.

There are documents relating to Andrei Tadeush Bonaventura Kostiushko (Tadeusz Kosciuszko, 1746-1817), native of Belarus, the leader of the 1794 revolt in Poland, Belarus and Lithuania, who also fought for independence of the peoples of North America and Eastern Europe.

There are documents relating to the well-known public figures, writers, painters, and composers (P. Pestel, K. Lyshchinski, V. Ignatovski, A. Mitskevich, I. Turgenev, V. Belinski, M. Bogdanovich, Ia. Kolos, Ia. Kupala, M. Lynkov, I. Repin, M. Chagal, M. Oginski, S. Moniushko, M. Glinka, etc.).

The Archives also retains documents on the history of wars: Northern War of 1700-1721, War of 1812, Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878, Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905, First World War of 1914-1918, as well as the revolutionary events of the years 1905 and 1917.

A large complex of documents relate to the national-liberation, workers' and peasants' movement in Belarus. In particular, there are documents relating to one of the largest revolts of the Belarusian peasants in the Krichev starostvo in 1743-1744 under the leadership of Vasily Vashchila; the file cases narrating about the formation and combats of the insurgent groups in the 1830-1831 and 1863-1864 uprisings, the arrests, searches, punishment of the participants, interrogation proceedings, lists of the insurgents, etc.

In addition, the Archives holds documents on genealogy and heraldry of the noble families; documents on the births, marriages and deaths of Belarusian citizens and foreigners who come from the territory of the former Vitebsk, Minsk and Mogilev provinces.

New on the site
27 August 2014
The First World War in Belarus page has been posted in the Russian version of the website More >>
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