Family and Kinship in the Jewish City of Piotrków Trybunalski in the 19th Century
Tomasz Jankowski, MA
The research is a one place, in-depth study in which the main aim is to analyze a selected historical community (in this case Jews of Piotrków Trybunalski in the 19th Century) from a demographic and social point of view. As opposed to most existing historical inquires into family issues, which are generally based on narrative sources, this research will be based on a statistical database derived from the municipal civil register of birth, marriage and death certificates. The main object of the study is to create a set of single, nuclear family trees, reconstructed on the basis of the register. Having in mind the importance of the completeness and quality of the database, special attention will be paid to excluding measurements that appear to reflect only incomplete information on families.
In the research two methods of analysis will be applied. First, use will be made of the standard method of family reconstitution (which has never yet been applied to East European Jewish communities) to reconstruct families in order to observe the family from its beginning (marriage) till its end (death of the first spouse) and to count the number of born children. Performing such an analysis on multiple families will enable me to estimate how women’s fertility changed according to social and economic conditions, survival of the earlier children, and possibly the introduction of birth control. Together with onomastic analysis, it will then be possible to trace the acculturation processes and importance of traditional family roles.
Second, a social networking method will be employed to obtain macro-insights into the social relationships between families in the community, thus helping to establish the importance of traditional community authority and personal and professional relationships between the families. As opposed to commonly used sociological methods, social networking treats the community as a whole multidimensional structure of relations.
Applying this holistic approach to a complete set of birth, marriage and death certificates makes it possible to evaluate genealogical search tools. As the family reconstitution method is partially a genealogical search focused on the nuclear family, it helps to identify possible limitations to searches that are performed without a complete, digitalized database of certificates.
Both of the methods, popular in research on West European Christian communities, will be applied for the first time to research on an East European Jewish community. While this research will focus only on a single community, the standardization of the methods will permit researchers to place the Jewish community of Piotrków Trybunalski within the general European demographic and social environment.
Click here for the Final Report on this project.