Legacy Tree Onsite: The National Archives in Iaşi, Romania
Legacy Tree works with researchers all over the world to access records for our clients. We asked one of our onsite researchers, located in Iaşi, Romania, to share his experiences with genealogy research in Romania at the National Archives in Iaşi, and the records available to help with your family history.
The city of Iaşi and its archives – an overview
The city of Iaşi is the largest locality in the northeast of Romania, a region called Moldavia. Not to be mistaken with the Republic of Moldova, which represents the eastern half of the former Principality of Moldavia, occupied by Russia after 1812, a region called Bessarabia, which belonged to Romania only in the interval 1918-1944.
The city of Iaşi was the capital of the Principality of Moldavia from the 17th century to the year 1862, when the Principalities of Moldavia and Walachia united and when the capital was set in Bucharest.
According to modern standards, the Archives of Iaşi were constituted on January 1st, 1832, with one headquarter. Until 1832, the documents were kept in the institutions that issued or received them, or in private archives (secular or confessional). Hence, between 1832 and 1862, Iaşi was the headquarters of the Moldavian Principality Archives, and subsequently they acquired a regional character, within the Romanian Archives. Though they were founded in 1832, thus far the deposits of the Romanian Archives in Iaşi have gathered many old documents, dated even to the 14th century. Until the present, the Archives in Iaşi harbor almost 17,000 linear meters of documents, from the oldest one (within the 14th century) to the present, thus the second largest archive in Romania.
Visiting the National Archives in Iaşi
The current headquarters of the Iaşi archives are on B-dul Carol I no. 26, on one of the most prestigious and select streets, close to “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University. The hours for the lecture hall – where researchers are granted a free permit – are listed on the website of the institution. However, as far as research, only little information is available online. Consequently, for most research topics, genealogy included, it is mandatory to actually stay in the library. Researchers may access 15 documents and 5 registries daily. You are allowed to take photos using your own camera, and the daily photo fee is Lei 7 (less than 2 US dollars), without any limit on the number of photos taken.
Documents useful for genealogy research in Romania
As for the documents useful for genealogy research in Romania, it is worth knowing that – by the legal character of the documents preserved in the archives – there are differences in terms of the historical period and the category of population to which the searched family belonged.
Until mid 19th century, most preserved documents pertain to the ownership of buildings and lands within cities or to lands owned outside the cities. Thus, a genealogical reconstitution before the 19th century is possible only for the families who owned properties. It must be mentioned that, based on medieval law – in force until mid 19th century and in case of Jews until 1918, when they were granted full civil rights – only the Orthodox Christians were allowed to own properties outside the city territories. Catholics and Armenians had a derogation only concerning the lands with vine. Consequently, until the 19th century, the best chances for retrieving the genealogy concern the families of boyars (noble families) and to a certain extent, the rich urban citizens, and almost null for the other categories of population.
There is a category of useful documents for genealogical studies. Such documents are dated to the second half of the 18th century and they represent tax censuses; authorities noted the family heads in those lists. Based on the lists, it is possible to develop the genealogy of certain families, until the second half of the 19th century, when – mainly after 1832 – such tax censuses were organized every seven years. Only a part of those lists has been published. For the city of Iaşi, two volumes were issued, titled Documente statistice privitoare la istoria oraşului Iaşi, vol. I (1755-1820) and vol. II (1824-1828) [Statistical Documents concerning the History of the City of Iaşi], Iaşi, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University Press, 1997.
Also in the first half of the 19th century, various categories of taxpayers were recorded separately, such as merchants, artisans or foreign subjects who lived in the Moldavian Principality, most of them in the urban areas. Many of those who had the status of foreign subjects were Jewish. A volume that reunites the census of the foreign Austrian subjects in 1832 was published recently at the Al.I. Cuza University Press in Iaşi (The Austrian Subjects in the Moldavian Principate (1833-1835), Iaşi, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University Press, 2014 – in Romanian language; http://www.editura.uaic.ro/produse/rezultatele-cautarii-pentru/silviu-vacaru/supusii-austrieci-in-principatul-moldovei-1833-1835-contributii-1307/1), but the archives of Iaşi host many other such lists, still unpublished.
Civil status registries – marital status as registered by parishes
Along with the statistical and tax-related documents, for the period between 1832 and 1865, the Archives in Iaşi also includes civil status registries, drafted in parishes. Unfortunately, thus far, only a small part of the civil status registries were inventoried and available for research.
Before analyzing the period after 1865, it must be stated that – along with the Cyrillic paleography of the old documents – the genealogical research is made even more difficult by the fact that, until 1865, no strict rules were imposed concerning last names, though attempts had been made since 1832. For this reason, in the tax and civil status records up to 1865, individuals were generally registered using the formula: X the son of Y, and in the subsequent generation, Z the son of Y, but there were also cases of formulas such as: X + occupation. The preservation of a name across several generations is frequent only in case of noble families; for the others, such cases are rare.
Civil status records – after 1865
More information, comprising a greater number of details pertinent for genealogy research, is available for periods after 1865. In 1865 the organization of the Civil Status Service following the French model entered into force; thus, the births, marriages and deaths were no longer recorded by parishes, but by civil offices constituted within city halls.
In terms of advantages compared to the previous period, first of all, they began drafting up the documents using Latin characters, and then they enforced the standard of using last names. The Civil Status Funs has been inventoried almost integrally and it may be researched. Unfortunately, they are not available online, and the registries even less so. Consequently, documents may be consulted only in the study hall. A researcher may research the lists of people who were born, got married or who died in the period 1865-1916 and he/she may order up to 5 registries. According to Archives rules for the protection of personal data, civil status documents newer than 100 years old are not available for public research.
The Archives of Iaşi preserve the registries of people who were born, got married or who died for all the localities within the county of Iaşi, the city of Iaşi included. For the other localities in Moldavia, registries are within the Archives of each county centre (Suceava, Botoşani, Piatra-Neamţ, Bacău, Vaslui, Galaţi, Focşani). The research rules are the same as for the Archives in Iaşi, but the hours may differ, (they are usually shorter).
In the Archives of Iaşi we find – for the period 1865-1908 – approximately 3,000 registries for the births, were 59,779 births were recorded. For the period 1865-1905, there are approximately 1,500 marriage registries, where 21,731 marriages and divorces were registered. For the period 1865-1908, there are approximately 4,000 registries of deaths, comprising around 80,000 deaths.
It is also worth noting that, in terms of the demographic structure – mostly in the cities in northern Moldavia, the city of Iaşi included – in late 19th century, the Jewish population accounted for around 50%. Since the last years of the 19th century, the number of Jews decreased gradually, initially through immigrations across the Ocean, mostly in the USA; after the Second World War, due to the massive emigration to Israel, the Jewish population in Iaşi and in Romania, in general, dropped dramatically. Currently, the community of the Jews in Iaşi counts around 200 members.
Hence, in order to study the genealogy of the families who – since late 19th century – left the urban localities in the county of Iaşi, emigrating from Romania, the types of documents presented here briefly – mostly those pertaining to civil status dated after 1865 – are very useful.
Here, is an example of a death record within a registry of civil status.
Civil Registrar for deaths
In the year of one thousand eight hundred sixty-six, on the fourth of August, at eight o’clock a.m., came to us, officer of the Civil Registrar of the commune of Iaşi, police district no. three, county of Iaşi, Mr. Daniil Lazar, aged forty-five, an old clothes man, the uncle of the deceased, domiciled in police district no. three, Târgul de Sus, and Mr. Avram Herş Ox, aged twenty-nine, a shoemaker, domiciled in zone (police district) no. four, Sfânta Vineri street, and they declared that on the third of August, at ten o’clock p.m., Mr. Leiba, son of Moise Lazăr, aged seven, Israeli, domiciled with his parents, son of Mr. Moise Lazăr, old clothes man, domiciled in district no. three, Târgul de Sus no. 990, and of Mrs. Feiga, the latter’s wife, has died in the house of Herşcu Marcu, because of cholera.
After we made sure of it ourselves, we drew this certificate that the declarants, after reading it, signed with us.
Officer of the Civil Registrar, Th. Codrescu <m.p.>.
The declarants sign.
If you need help accessing and obtaining documents in Romania to continue extending your Romanian ancestry, our professional genealogists and onsite agents are ready to assist you! Our team of genealogists is experienced at tracking down all kinds of family history records in a variety of locations, and can help you extend your ancestry as far back as records will allow. Contact us to discuss which of our project options would best fit your needs.