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Presenter: Jeffrey Paull
The history of the adoption, regulation, and use of Jewish surnames in the Russian Empire is quite complex. There were a myriad number of ways by which Jewish surnames were created, assigned, or adopted, while tight restrictions were placed on changing or altering surnames. As a result of Russian laws and mandates, many non-related Jewish individuals acquired the same surname, while many related family members acquired different surnames. This situation has created many challenges for genealogists who try to trace the ancestry or locate descendants of a particular Jewish lineage, many of whom have different surnames, as well as for interpreting the results of DNA tests for Jewish descendants. The purpose of this presentation is to explain the various laws and mandates pertaining to Jewish surnames in the Russian Empire, so that those who are interested in Jewish genealogy will better understand the complexities of Jewish surname adoption and use.