History, Adoption, and Regulation of Jewish Surnames in the Russian Empire

A Review

Image of 1784 Jewish Census for the town of Slutsk

Analysis of the formation of surnames by the Jewish population of the 19th century Russian Empire. Description of the cultural and legal context of Ashkenazi Jewish surnames in Russia with examples taken from census records. Provides insight to genealogists on the legally mandated creation of different surnames within individual families followed by a period of relative surname stability into the 20th century. Surname derivation from toponyms with the “sky” suffix were most common followed by patronymics with the “vich” suffix and then derivation from occupations or nicknames.