Census Records (Revision Lists), Part 1 of 2

By Maggie Hein | January 15, 2023 | Russian Records

I recently noticed a page on the Family Search web site about Russian Revision List images for Volga German Villages. I thought that would make a good topic for a blog post, but realized that to put those records in context, I needed to provide more general information about Russian Revision Lists. 

Your first question is probably "What is a Revision List?"  The published English-language translations of these records typically label them Census Records. Technically, they are not Census Records. A Census, such as those we have here in the United States, is intended to be a list of everyone in the population.  A Russian Revision List is a list of individuals subject to taxation, which didn't include everyone living in the Russian Empire. The Russian Revision Lists were also used to identify men for the military draft.

There were ten "Revisions". The first two Revisions were in 1719 and 1743, before the Volga German Colonies were established. The Volga German villages were settled starting in 1764, thus the first Revision that included Volga German colonists was the 3rd Revision in 1767. The next seven Revisions, and the years in which Volga German colonists were enumerated, were 1775, 1798, 1811, 1816, 1834, 1850, and 1857. A complete census of the Russian Empire was conducted in 1897.

One of the interesting features of the Russian Revision List is the organization of the records by "household".  A household was frequently an extended family group that typically included a male head of household, his wife, their sons, their unmarried daughters, their sons' wives, and their sons' children. Sometimes other family members were included.  This feature makes a Russian Revision List particularly useful for genealogy because you can easily see three or four generations together. The lists indicate the ages of each household member, the relationships between the family members, and sometimes indicate movement from one household or village to another. The 1811, 1834, 1850, and 1857 Revisions also include the ages of the men on the previous Revision, which is another useful feature to help you follow an individual from one Revision List to another. The 1798 Revision included women's maiden names; the 1850 and 1857 Revisions for a few villages also include women's maiden names. 

Many Revision Lists for Volga German villages have been translated and published. The available Lists include:

  • 1767: Einwanderung in das Wolgagebiet, 1764-1767 (Immigration to the Volga Region, 1764-1767), translated by Igor Pleve. This four volume set includes the 1767 Census (often referred to as the "First Settlers Lists") for most of the Volga German Villages. Volumes 1 and 2 are available from AHSGR. Volumes 3 and 4 are currently out of print. 
  • 1775: The 1775 Revision Lists for twelve Volga German colonies have been found. These are available from AHSGR.
  • 1798: The 1798 Revision is the most complete set of Volga Germany colony census records. In addition to the census of the population, it also includes an agricultural census. Translations of this census are available in two formats: (1) individual booklets for each colony, and (2) a two-volume set that includes all of the villages complied by Dr. Brent Mai. Both versions are available from AHSGR. 
  • 1811: AHSGR recently published a translation by Dr. Mila Koretnikova of the 1811 Revision Lists for 34 Volga German colonies. In addition to that set, there are separate translations for a few villages, available from AHSGR. 
  • 1816: As far as I know, the 1816 Revision Lists for the Volga German villages have not been found.  The names and ages of men who were included on the 1816 Revision are reported on the 1834 Revision, and currently this is the only source that I am aware of for data from the 1816 Revision.
  • 1834, 1850, and 1857: Numerous examples of the Revisions for these years have been found. Many of these records have been translated by AHSGR or various individual translators. Some of the original images are digitized and available on the Family Search web site. (I'll have a separate blog post about that soon).  A partial list of available translations is here
  • 1897: This census was long thought to have been lost or completely destroyed. In recent years, portions of this census for various regions in the Russian Empire have been discovered. The 1897 censuses for a few Volga German villages have been found.  Several are translated and available for purchase from either AHSGR or individual translators. 


The Imperial Russian Revision Lists of the 18th and 19th Century, by Joseph B. Everett, Brigham Young University

Russian Revision Lists: A History by Boris Feldblyum


© Margreatha Hein, 2023