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Law #9521 from "Complete Collection of Laws of the Russian Empire"

Czar: Alexander III
Year: 1893

Editor's Note: Late in the 19th century, some Jews had come to prefer more formal, more Russian, less "shtetl-like" names, e.g. Boris rather than Boruch or Berka, Mordechai, rather than Mordko. They might be using these more formal names in daily life, even while registered in metrical books under their previous name. One of the purposes of this law was simply to humiliate the Jews by requiring them to continue using their previous names in all documents. This is one reason that Duma Voter lists from 1905-1912 still contain many names like Movsha, Tsalka, Shabsha, etc. The source of this law is from the third set of volumes of the "Complete Collection of Laws of the Russian Empire", and being post-1873, was not included in the Levanda Index (see Background of the Levanda Index).

9521. -- April 23. Imperial Ratification of the Opinion of State Council. --

On prohibiting Jews from changing names and nicknames from how they are recorded in metrical books.

The Legal Department of the State Council, and in general assembly, considering the presentation of the Interior Minister on the correct recording of Jewish names in metrical books and other official documents, reached this opinion:
I. To decree, subject to alteration and supplement of the statute:
1) Jews can use only those names under which they are recorded in metrical books. With the exception provided for in Legal statute 1082 in cases of clerical error, no correction or revision of these books is allowed.
2) Each Jew who is head of the family is to declare how his name and nickname is recorded in metrical books, to insert in family and alphabetical registers and to name in passports and in all documents.
3) A Jew guilty of appropriating a name or surname not belonging to him, as well as altering the name or surname under which he is recorded in metrical books, is subject to punishment under Statute 1416 of the Code on Punishments, and in case he does this with the object of accomplishing some crime, the punishment will be determined by rules for the aggregate criminality.

Comments and corrections welcomed. Send to Michael Steinore