The settlement was first mentioned in 1561 as Duoliebaičiai village. In 1639 the town was called Vladislavovas (Polish: Władysławów) by Cecilia Renata of Austria after her husband Władysław IV Vasa who in 1643 granted the town the Magdeburg rights. However, the name has not achieved popular usage, and the settlement became known as "a town" or "a new town" instead. The German name Neustadt-Schirwindt is derived from the river Širvinta (German: Schirwindt). In 1900 the town started being called Naumiestis (New Town). Some sources called the town Vladislavovas until 1917. In 1934, the town received the name Kudirkos Naumiestis in honor of Vincas Kudirka who lived there from 1895 to 1899. It is known that since 1740 a well-organized Jewish community was living in the town. Many prominent rabbis and Jewish scholars lived in the town, which before the World War II, had about 3,000 Jewish residents. Journalist and writer Herman Bernstein was born here in 1876, rabbi Abba Hillel Silver was born here in 1893.