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Making sense of old handwriting

Metrical Books





Metrical books are records that were kept by the various religions according to the mandates of the Russian Empire's government. The books were designed to include birth, marriage, divorce (applicable to Jews and Muslims only) and death records. The name "metrical books" comes from the way that the books were designed to take the measurements or metrics of the Russian Empire's population.

Click on one of the record types in the menu above to learn about its format, as well as which words and phrases are commonly found in each. The writing in a metrical book usually appears either in labeled columns or in paragraph form (specifically for Polish records); both formats will be discussed on each page applies to the record type.


Paleography Introduction