Posted in Dolger, Genealogy, Jewish Gen

Searching for Ida Gould’s vital records – across Belarus and Manhattan

I took some time away from my genealogy research – for gardening and birding in the summer months 🙂  When it got chilly again I came back and decided to get back in by going back to the basics – doing and documenting a vital record search for someone I was currently stuck on; Ida Gould, J’s maternal Great Great Grandmother (abt 1889- aft 1930).

Vital records include birth, marriage and death certificates.  These are important finds to frame research around a person but also can give you surprising clues to the next ancestor in the line! Birth certificates can give you date of birth, location of birth and parent’s name – including mother’s maiden name!  Marriage certificates – give you residence, maiden names and depending on location of marriage, parents name and origin.  Death certificates can give you parents’ names, residence at death, cause of death and exact date of death – all which are then useful to search for obituaries which can have a ton of information on someone’s life!

I find that it’s good to start by checking my expectations on what exists against a ‘Vital Records Chart’ that I keep in my research notebook from Family Tree Magazine – it lists the years when US states started recording state-level birth, marriage and death records.  Linked here


I know that Ida was born abt 1889 in Vitebsk, Russia (now Belarus).[1][2]   A lot of Jewish records have been digitalized, indexed and stored on JewishGen and/or in the Family History Library (a list of available Belarus records are listed on the FHL Research Wiki) .  I did a quick search on these two websites to see if I could find anything and nothing came up.  

I don’t feel very skilled yet in looking for jewish records in the old world (and have yet to identify any for J’s family), I also don’t have Ida’s maiden name, I’m not sure what the original spelling of Dolger was (it doesn’t come up in Jewish surname searches) and I don’t feel I have detailed enough information yet on where in Vitebsk they were from to search for records in Belarus extensively. Most of the microfilms available are organised by shtetl – which I have not identified yet for this family so will table this for now but will keep it on my list to explore as I get more familiar with these records.


I know that Ida came over around 1907 – possibly with her parents and siblings when she was about 18 years old.  We did not know if her parents did immigrate but I found a 1920 census with them living in New York with a young Hannah and a similar immigration year of 1906.[3]  I know Ida’s first husband was Max Coldofsky/Gould (he changed his last name to Gould in the US – we don’t know when).[4]  The family story is that Max was also from Vitebsk – there was a possibility they were married or knew each other there.[5]  It was also common for immigrants from similar areas of origin to arrive, live and meet in the same communities during this wave of immigration to New York.

I searched and found their marriage certificate index which showed me that Ida married Max Coldofsky on 18 June 1910 in Manhattan.[5]   The index on Ancestry did not show information on the actual certificate so I did a quick search on FamilySearch and found the certificate transcribed [6].  The transcription gave me names of their parents I had not seen before! Here is what I learned:

  • These two married in NY in 1910, therefore they both immigrated with their separate families before then
  • They were married with the surname Coldofsky – so we know Max changed the family name after 1910 to Gould
  • Max’s parents were listed as Wolf Coldofsky and Bluma Kislik
  • Ida’s parents were listed as Charles Dolger and Braena Sarvolsky.

While this was an exciting find, it put a little wrench in my research – Ida’s mother’s name here was different then what I had found on her sister’s Hannah certificate (which was Bala Zaralow that I wrote about last week here).[7]  Her father’s name was the same.  I’ve put on my list of things to do to go look at the original certificates at the Family History Library.  I have a little more work to do to figure out if Charles married again and/or if the sisters remembered different names for the same mother at the time of their marriage application – or if the transcription of the originals was just patchy.  

Max died in 1929 when Ida was 40 years old and I know she got remarried to Sam Epstein in Manhattan after his death.[5] I knew this information from interviewing J’s mom.   I looked for their marriage certificate and could not find it. I actually have not found anything connecting Sam and Ida so have put this on my list of things to ask J’s mother about over Thanksgiving – maybe he had a different name?


At the start of her death certificate search, I did not know when she died. I only know it had to be after 1930 as the last record I have for her is the 1930 Federal census when she lived with her son William, 19 and Jacob, 15 and was listed as a widow.[8] Nothing has come up with the names and dates I have for her after 1930 in New York

While I have a lot of information already to start looking for her parents, I think that I will continue the search for both her and her first husband’s death certificate by talking to J’s mom and going over the details she remembers on the year’s, dates and names at the time of her death (Ida potentially had 4 surnames in her life: Dolger, Coldofsky, Gould and Epstein).  The family story is that she may have committed suicide, the same as her first husband – having her death certificate may give us clues and/or help rebuild that story for the family.

Next Steps:

  • Talk to J’s mom about the details of Ida’s second marriage and the timeframe of her and her husbands’ deaths.
  • Look at the original marriage certificate at the Family History Library, along with what I can find for her siblings to review her mother’s name



On Family History Library Catalog  – place search

JewishGen Belarus Database


  1. Federal Census Year: 1920; Census Place: Manhattan Assembly District 17, New York, New York; Roll: T625_1216; Page: 8B; Enumeration District: 1191; (separate pages indicate Ida with her family, and her parents Charles and Bessie in US)
  2. U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942:  The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System, 1926-1975; Record Group Number: 147 – Hyman Dolger, Ida’s brother lists Vitebsk as place of origin
  3. Year: 1920; Census Place: Manhattan Assembly District 1, New York, New York; Roll: T625_1183; Page: 17A; Enumeration District: 16; Image: 1006 (the page for Charles, Bessie and Hannah showing Charles and Bessie immigrated around 1906)
  4. “New York, New York, Marriage Index 1866-1937,
  5. Pearlman Family Oral History and old family tree
  6. “New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829-1940,” database, FamilySearch ( : 20 March 2015), Max Coldofsky and Ida Dolgor, 18 Jun 1910; citing Marriage, Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, New York City Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,503,747.
  7. Year: 1930; Census Place: Brooklyn, Kings, New York; Roll: 1497; Page: 51A; Enumeration District: 1293; Image: 275.0; FHL microfilm: 2341232
  8. Year: 1930; Census Place: Brooklyn, Kings, New York; Roll: 1497; Page: 51A; Enumeration District: 1293; Image: 275.0; FHL microfilm: 2341232

2 thoughts on “Searching for Ida Gould’s vital records – across Belarus and Manhattan

  1. Fascinating! Interesting that change to Gould. Belarus really caught my eye, too, because right now I am researching a town in Belarus called Vasilishki for my entering the pale blog. I barely knew Belarus existed until I started this research, and I feel like I’m drowning in it and need to go for a walk haha! Of course, our towns are 284 miles apart, on opposite sides of Minsk. Yes, I just looked it up ;). I don’t know about you, but I don’t know what I would do without JewishGen!


  2. I also have found different first names for the same person, including my great-grandmother. Her name was Bessie according to my mother and almost every document, but one of her son’s records had her first name as Fanny. When I found her gravestone, I realized that her full name in Hebrew was Pesl Fayge. Maybe some people called her Fanny? I still don’t know.

    Good luck! I also have had no luck finding European records for my great-grandparents….yet!


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