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Genealogy Guide: Landsmanshaftn Records—Minsk Province

Brief History of Landsmanshaftn

Landsmanshaftn is a broad term given to associations created by Eastern European Jewish immigrants in America. These organizations, many of which were organized into various independent mutual aid societies, religious congregations, and fraternal lodges were most frequently created by immigrants from the same town, therefore many in the name of various organizations is the name of different locales in Eastern Europe.

 "The Storozneter Kukowiner Sick and Benevolent Association." January 7, 1903. (Wikipedia Commons.) From Alexandrovsk to Zyrardow - A Guide to YIVO's Landsmanshaftn Archive

While each landsmanshaft differed from one another, landsmanshaftn acted as vehicles for Jewish immigrants to better orient themselves with their new lives in America. Almost all of these landsmanshaft provided essential life benefits to its members. These benefits included: welfare and burial benefits, access to education and cultural activities, and for some even employment opportunities. Though landsmanshaftn historically only admitted men, many of these organizations also had their own auxiliary branches for women. These counterpart organizations conducted their own meetings,social activities, and often collaborated with their male counterpart organizations.



The spelling of ‘Belorussian’ throughout this research guide is based on various entries throughout The YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe.  Alternate spellings include: ‘Belorusian’ and ‘Byelorussian.; One could also refer to Belorussian as ‘White Russian’ as people used to refer to Belarus as ‘White Russia’.