Working With Revision Lists

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that the Kurland revision lists are up on Raduraksti. Good news – the Livland (Vidzeme) revision lists are up too!

Now here is your guide to making sense of these documents!

I’m going to start with just the revision lists themselves – many of them come with all sorts of supplementary documentation as well, but with the exception of the incoming/outgoing registers, these can be highly individualized to each estate or parish.

It is important to note that revision lists are based on estate, not parish. There can be numerous estates within a parish. If you know what parish your ancestors lived in, but are not sure of the estate, consult their birth record in the religious records – the first line of the record should list the estate name and farm name. If you don’t have a birth record yet, consult this map to find the estates in your ancestral parish and start going through them to find your family.

The latest revision list is for 1858. The format of the records are as follows…

Left-side page:

  1. 9th revision list family number (that is, the previous list)
  2. 10th revision list family number (current list)
  3. Names of males in the household (often including father’s name as well – be careful you don’t mix up this and the surname), the name of the farm is also indicated in this column, also numbered (but usually with a Roman numeral so as to not confuse this with the family number)
  4. Age at previous revision list, or, if not dwelling at this address, previous place of residence (and sometimes year of arrival to this address)
  5. Changed circumstances since the last revision list – such as moving to a new address since the last list was written, death, etc.
  6. Current age

Right-side page:

  1. 9th revision list family number
  2. 10th revision list family number
  3. Names of females in the household, often prefixed by relationship to male in the household (wife-Frau or daughter-Tochter), or if single woman, as an unmarried woman (Magd) or a widow (Wittwe).
  4. Changed circumstances (this can sometimes be used sparingly for women)
  5. Current age

It is important to note that in the revision lists, an individual (especially a male) could appear twice if they had moved during the time between lists. They will appear in their current home, with a notation that they moved from location X, and they will appear in location X with the notation that they have moved to the new address. People moved about frequently, especially within an estate.

The formats for the 1834 and 1850 revision lists are identical to the 1858 one, with the exception of family numbers – the family numbers (should) stay consistent between the different lists, and only changed with the 10th revision, so there is only one family number column per page.

For 1826, the format changes a tiny bit – the farm name and number now has its own column, and it is the first column on each page – also note that farms are now numbered with regular numbers, while family numbers have become Roman numerals – the family name is also now listed in the same box as family number. Any other data in the name column can pertain to things such as status (Knecht – farmhand/servant, Wirts – landowner/manager – remember the purchasing of farms from barons and other large landowners only started in earnest in the latter half of the nineteenth century, so “Wirts” may not yet indicate ownership but rather the head of the farm household), or might include items that should be in the next box over (previous place of residence, etc.).

Prior to the 1826 revision list, things can get difficult, for 1826 is the first revision list with surnames for peasants. The 1816 list does not have surnames, so one must rely on relationship markers (wife, daughter, etc.) to determine family relationships. Men and women are no longer listed on separate pages, but rather one after another on the same page. Beware of assuming that just because your ancestors lived on a farm in 1826, and there is a family with the same given names on the farm in 1816, that they are the same family. I almost fell into that trap on one estate until I noticed the notation that they had moved from another estate in the early 1820s. There was not a large variation in given names, so there could be many families with the same names, with the same ages (I’m still angry at one of my ancestors for naming his daughter the same name as his brother’s daughter when these two girls were born a month apart on the same farm).

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