With the uploading of the 1875 census of the Jewish population of Eretz Israel, the 6 year project of digitizing and translating the 5 censuses of Eretz Israel and the one-time census of the Jews of Alexandria (Egypt), has come to completion.
The Censuses are owned and have been preserved, conserved and scanned by the Montefiore Endowment, a registered charity. The Montefiore Endowment commissioned the Israel Genealogy Society in 2007, and the team headed by Mathilde A. Tagger, Rose A. Feldman and Billie Stein, and assisted by 31 dedicated volunteers, to transcribe and translate in full these records of the Jewish population of the Holyland during the period 1839-1875.
The census charts were compiled by the community or Kolel heads, and are divided accordingly. The data requested (but not always provided) includes: name, age and place of birth of the head of household, his financial status and occupation, his wife’s name, names and ages of his children, and various comments.
The population came from all four corners of the Jewish Diaspora, and included many well known Rabbinic families. Searches of the censuses and results are now possible in both English and Hebrew. Using the advanced search option, searches can be done by a single or multiple fields – including Surname, Given name, Place of Residence, Kolel, Country of Birth, Occupation, and Economic Status.
While there are some surnames for Ashkenazim, most are listed only by given names. It is helpful to know several family given names as results show family groupings. Spelling, too, can present a challenge, as names, which often were transliterated from the original language into Hebrew were then transliterated 150 years later into English. In addition, there is little or no consistency of spelling in the original Hebrew. There is no soundex system (to date) that serves both Sephardic and Ashkenzic names, so it is recommended to use a wild card search, using % as the wild card. The key is to be creative in your searching.
The censuses can be searched on the Montefiore Endowment website at no charge, and with no need to register, at http://www.montefioreendowment.org.uk/. Please take a moment to read the FAQ page and also the “About” page in order to acknowledge the volunteers who made this project possible.
Rose Feldman, Billie Stein, Mathilde Tagger
Montefiore Census Project Steering Committee