Monday, June 3, 2024

But That Doesn't Add Up Right

I posted last month about finding my great-great-grandparents' marriage record and several other family records in a recent data upload by the Ukraine Research Group on  But now I have to worry about how accurate the years are on those records as they are indexed.

I found a Russian birth record for one of my cousins, Dvorah Kardish, the daughter of Moishe Kardish and Rivka Polatnick.  The index entry shows Dvorya Kardish, daughter of Moshe, son of Chaim Duvid, and Rivka, daughter of Leyb.  This certainly sounds like my family member!  The entry indicates she was born January 21, 1899.  I clicked on the image link.

Record #9
Birth record for Dvorya Kardish
January 21 / 12 Shevat
Father Moshe Chaim-Duvid, mother Rivka daughter of Leyb
Kamenets Podolsky, Podolia, Russian Empire
(image has been edited to crop out some of the other records on the page)

But when I went to enter this information in my family tree, I noted a few inconsistencies.

There is a note on the page for the record above Dvorya's that refers to 1897.  How could there be a note about something that happened to a child in 1897 if the child wasn't born until 1899?

Second, I have found Dvorya enumerated with the Kardish family in an 1895 Russian revision list (kind of like a census).  If she wasn't born until 1899, that just couldn't happen (that's a really big twinkle in someone's eye).

Third, Dvorya's first child (at least the first I know about) was born in 1915 (I found her birth record in this upload), which would make Dvorya only 16 years old at the time.  Not a deal-breaker, but not likely.  (Yes, I realize the year could be wrong on her daughter's record.)

And not as definitive, but still important to take into account, an 1899 birth would change Dvorya's position in the accepted birth order of the children in that family.  I often tell people that before knowing your exact birth date was an important fact in everyday life, most people didn't know precisely when they were born, but they did usually know who was the oldest child, who was second, etc., down to the youngest.  And the birth order that I was told matches that in the revision list.

So now I had four data points pointing to the possible inaccuracy of the birth year quoted in the JewishGen index.

Obviously, this required further investigation.

The page with Dvorya's birth record does not have a year written on it anywhere I could see to indicate when these births had taken place or were recorded.  I looked several pages before and after but none of them has a year written on it to indicate when the births occurred.  The only one that has a year on it, a few pages before the page in question, has a big block of text in the middle of the page and the year 1898 at the end of the text.  It looks to be some kind of "this is wrapping up the end of the year" note.  I considered that maybe the indexers had used it as an indication that the pages following were for 1899.

Working on the hypothesis that the page with Dvorya's birth had somehow fallen out and been [re]placed out of order in the record book, I looked at the information on the sheet that I probably could rely on:  that she had been born on January 21 on the Christian calendar, which equaled 12 Shevat on the Jewish calendar.  The months were abbreviated at the top of the page, and while I don't know the names of the months in the Jewish calendar well enough to recall them, I could see that the month started with "sh", so I Googled "Jewish months", and only Shevat starts with that.

To try to resolve the problem, I went to, clicked on Steve's handy Jewish Calendar Conversions in One Step page, changed the readout to the 57th century in the Jewish era so I could see years for the 19th century, changed the Christian date to January 21, and started going year by year through the Jewish years until I got January 21 and 12 Shevat in the same year.  Yay, it's 1891 (5651 on the Jewish calendar)!

Except I then remembered that the Russians were still on the Julian calendar in the 19th century, but the Jewish calendar was going by the Gregorian dates and Steve's page shows Gregorian by default.  Oops.

So I went back, changed the readout to Julian, set my date as 12 Shevat, and scrolled through years on the Christian calendar line.

Aha!  The year in which 12 Shevat and January 21 were the same day in the Julian calendar then became 1890 (5650 on the Jewish calendar).  That resolved the three concrete inconsistencies and kept Dvorya's birth order in the family the same.


It appears that the pages in the birth registration book are out of order, but that's how they are now and how they were filmed.

I fixed my date question, but how do we correct that problem?  How many more pages in this book are out of order?  How many people will have enough information beforehand, as I did, to realize that there's a problem?  And how many more of the digitized record books might have the same problem?

And what does the note from 1905 on the left side of Dvorya's birth record say?


  1. I would like to know the follow up. Please let us know how you solve your questions.

    1. Assuming I am able to resolve any of the questions, I will be happy to let you know!

  2. Wow, that was a lot of leg work...but I bet you felt really gratified when you worked it out! It's a big win when you manage to fit all the pieces together.

    1. I was gratified that I found a year that actually did work. When I started using Steve's converter, I was really afraid I wouldn't. Definitely a big win.

  3. So complicated, including Julian/Gregorian calendar considerations. Wow.

    1. The things we genealogists need to take into consideration!

  4. This is a great example of working thru inconsistencies for an ancestor until you figure it out!

    1. We are supposed to resolve all conflicts, right? :)

  5. Kudos! P.S. I did not know that Steve Morse had a Jewish Calendar Conversion...thanks for the tip! :)

    1. Thank you and you're welcome! Steve has all sorts of cool tools on his site. Definitely worth looking through the whole list. :)

  6. Nancy Gilbride CaseyJune 9, 2024 at 11:34 AM

    First time reader. Nice job working through those inconsistencies.

    1. Thank you, Nancy! I hope you enjoyed the read and come back for more.


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