The Leo Baeck Institute’s survey of archival material related to Jewish Bukovina And Transylvania (JBAT) was a six-year archival survey project (2013-2019) aimed to increase awareness of and access to archival materials related to Jewish history in Transylvania and Bukovina. Our goal is to promote interest in and study of Jewish life and communities in these two regions, both within the country and internationally.
Bukovina and Transylvania, two historic Central European regions once part of the Habsburg Empire, are now primarily located within contemporary Romania. These areas had a remarkably diverse population that included Romanians, Germans, Hungarians, Ukrainians, Jews, Armenians, Poles, and Roma. Until World War II, they were also home to sizeable Jewish communities. The history of these communities remains relatively underrepresented in scholarship, largely due to the difficulty of identifying and accessing primary source materials.
The National Archive repositories of Romania contain a wealth of information regarding the arc of Jewish life in these regions, but these materials are seldom accessed by researchers. By surveying the material and creating an online catalogue, the JBAT project allows future researchers to arrive at an archive and request the desired material immediately, rather than first wading through hundreds of pages of inventories containing information which may or may not be relevant to their respective project.
Examples of material held by archives are: birth, marriage, and death records for local Jewish communities beginning from the early 19th century until the 1930s (when Romanian officials ceased civil records by religion and recorded everyone in one logbook); school records both for specifically Jewish schools and schools with high Jewish attendance rates (these can include graduation certificates and photographs); correspondence from the Jewish community to municipal authorities regarding permits, contracts, discrimination, and other legal matters; official decrees regulating Jewish life dating from the 18th century; original census data including original forms completed by Jewish schools and communities dating from the mid-19th century; legal suits involving Jews dating from the 18th century; documents from guilds including member lists and minutes of meetings; community-created material including cultural or religious organisation statutes, minutes, and membership lists; architectural designs for synagogues and Jewish-owned homes and stores; police records and correspondence related to Jewish organisations and activities; permits issued by municipal authorities to Jewish cultural organisations for various social, cultural, and political events; lists of those in forced-labour camps during World War II; lists of expropriated property during World War II; material related to anti-Semitic measures enacted during World War II; logbooks of people (mainly Jews) whose Romanian citizenship was revoked in the late 1930s; and more.
The final stage of the JBAT project (2017-2019) focused on the surveying and archival processing of documentary material held by existing Jewish communities in Transylvania. The finding aids for these Jewish community collections will be put online by early 2020. Finding aids for the following Jewish community collections have been or will be created: Arad, Caransebeș, Lugoj, Deva, Mediaș, Târgu Mureș, Cluj, Satu Mare, and Sighet.
The project was funded by the Yerusha program of the Rothschild Foundation Hanadiv Europe.
For more information, please see our FAQ page or contact Project Director, Julie Dawson at jdawson[at]lbi.cjh.org.