Vitebsk (Witebsk) Governorate

Vitebsk (Witebsk) Governorate existed from 1802 until 1924, with Vitebsk city serving as its administrative center. Major parts of Vitebsk and Polotsk Voyevodships of  GdoL were claimed by the Russian Empire after the First Partition of Poland (1772). Initially this territory was a part of Pskov Governorate, and after that became a part of established Polotsk Governorate (which was known as Polotsk Viceroyalty (Namestnichestvo) during 1778-1796). After the Second Divide of Poland (1793) a new county was established under the name of Lepelsky, which consisted of freshly claimed terrirories belonging to the former Polotsk Governorate. Polotsk and Mogilevsk counties were united under the guise of Belorus Governorate in 1796, which was demolished on 27.02.1802., and its territory was divided into Vitebsk and Mogilevsk Governorates.

Vitebsk Governorate consisted of 12 counties: Wielizhsky (Wielisky), Vitebsky (Witebsky), Gorodoksky, Dwinsky, Drissensky (Drysiensky), Lepelsky, Lucinsky, Nevelsky, Polotsky, Rezhytsky, Sebezhsky and Surazhsky (demolished in 1866, its territory divided between Wielizhsky, Vitebsky and Gorodoksky counties).


Genealogy research is a difficult intellectual task which requires vast knowledge of history, laws of the past centuries, topography, geography, ethnology and sociology. Additionally, abilities such as being able to freely navigate through data across various archives, paleography skill, and, quite often, having knowledge of several languages, are also required. Such skills can only be honed through years of dedicated work.

Vitebsk Governorate was part of different administrative divisions (Western Oblast/Western Commune) during 1917-19, and eventually became a part of Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR). In 1919, July, Sennensky county was transferred to Vitebsk Governorate from Mogilev Governorate, in 1920, November, Orshansky county of Gomel Governorate (newly-established administrative division consisting of demolished Mogilev Governorate’s counties).

According to the agreement established between RSFSR and Latvia in 1920, Latvia claimed the territories of Dwinsky, Lucinsky and Rezhytsky counties. Gorodokssy, Drissensky and Sennensky counties were demolished on 1923; Lepelsky county was renamed into Bocheykrvsky. Vitebsk county was demolished on 10.03.1924. Vitebsky, Gorodoksky, Drissensky, Lepelsky, Polotsky, Sennensky, Surazhsky counties were established as part of Belarus SSR; Wielizhsky, Nevelsky, Sebezhsky became part of Pskov Governorate of RSFSR.

There were as many as 666 Orthodox churches, 53 synagogues, 262 Jewish and 81 Old Believers praying houses, 14 Lutheran churches in Vitebsk Governorate in 1914.

Genealogy and family history agency “WENDA” was found in Poland in 2015 thanks to the efforts of Witold Chanecki. The agency aims to offer its help with archive search and material processing, as well as offering its support to all the people interested in, and researching, history of their heritage originating in former Grand Dutchy of Lithuania (currently Belarus Republic and partially Lithuania). During the course of our work, we keep in close contact with numerous scientists and researchers, scientific establishments and archives across Belarus, Lithuania, Russia and Ukraine, as well as people of various artistic occupations.