Celebrating 10 years of Find Lost Russian & Ukrainian Family with giveaways

It’s hard to believe 10 years have passed since I started the Find Lost Russian & Ukrainian Family blog. The growth of interest in Russian and Ukrainian genealogy and the amount of information posted online has been amazing.

That has led to wonderful discoveries for my family tree in Ukraine and Russia. The best discoveries have been finding and connecting with my Russian and Ukrainian cousins in Europe and South America. Most of my discoveries are due to using Google Translate so I can research on Russian and Ukrainian websites. (See this post to learn about using Google Translate.)

My biggest regret has been not visiting my family in Ukraine when I had the money. Due to my complicated family situation, I think my dream to visit Ukraine with my Ukrainian-born mother is forever lost.

Please don’t make the same mistake. Once the COVID-19 pandemic is over, go home to your ancestors’ land before it is too late.

To thank readers of my blog, I am offering three giveaways- free copies of my two guides, “Genealogy at a Glance: Russian Genealogy Research” and “Genealogy at a Glance: Ukrainian Genealogy Research” and a free one-hour online Zoom or phone session with me to discuss your Russian and Ukrainian genealogy brickwalls.

Just add a comment with your prize selection at the bottom of this post to enter the contest. The winner of the Zoom or phone session can gift it to a friend or relative for the holiday session. I can mail a certificate for the session if the winner is giving the session as a gift.

It feels incredible to be the author of two Genealogy at a Glance guides. I had passing thoughts of publishing thorough guides for Russian and Ukrainian genealogy before I was approached by Genealogical Publishing Co., leading and oldest publisher of genealogy books in the USA.

The success of these guides are so important. It is hard to find in-print books and guides for Russian and Ukrainian genealogy.

Publishers need to know there is a demand for publications for Russian and Ukrainian genealogy so it opens the door for even more publications and possibly new publications for other eastern European countries.

A big thank you to anyone who has helped me spread the word about my genealogy guides!

My journey to inspire and inform will continue on this blog. I hope to bring back the “Bending Curtain: A Changing Tide in Genealogy in the Former USSR” series soon so readers can meet more people from Russia and Ukraine who are taking on the same challenges with their genealogy. Check out the series here if you missed the posts.

Follow this blog with the top right button to catch the next posts from the series and the latest news on databases and resources for Russian and Ukrainian genealogy.

Posts for genealogical inspiration:

Get a new view into your Russian and Ukrainian genealogy (Updated)
Secrets of searching the Internet in Russian and Ukrainian like a native speaker
The cure for fearing Russian-language genealogy websites to make breakthroughs

Newly published guide helps to take on Ukrainian genealogy successfully

Ukrainian genealogy can be quite challenging. I know that personally because it has taken me awhile to figure out Ukrainian archives and resources.

My newest publication “Genealogy at a Glance: Ukrainian Genealogy Research ($9.95 U.S. dollars and U.S. shipping only) reveals my best tips and the best online resources, in addition to detailing available records for genealogy research. The guide also covers the Ukrainian alphabet and resources for researching Ukrainian immigrants who came to the United States, Canada and South America.

Here is my video announcing the new genealogy guide.

I wrote this guide for those who are just starting out in their Ukrainian genealogy and those who are looking for the resources that will give their research a boost.

Ukrainian research gets complicated due to the borders changes so anyone looking for resources on Galicia and the western Ukraine/eastern Poland border areas will find some helpful resources.

The timing couldn’t be better to release this important publication. More and more records for Ukrainian genealogy are being published online now. Also, this guide was released on the birthday of my mother, who was born in Ukraine. This month marks her 70th anniversary for her arrival to the USA.

This is the only publication from Genealogical Publishing Co. solely on Ukraine. I couldn’t be more honored to write the publication.

The success of this publication is so important. Too many genealogy publishers are focused on American, Canadian and western European genealogy, thinking not enough interest exists in eastern European genealogy.

My first guide, “Genealogy at a Glance: Russian Genealogy Research” has sold more than 350 copies so far. Sales are going so well that Amazon purchased copies for its warehouses. The Russian guide can be purchased on Amazon here for US and international shipping.

I am hoping for the same success for “Genealogy at a Glance: Ukrainian Genealogy Research”. Finding in-print and current published guides for Ukrainian and Russian genealogy is difficult.

I thank from the bottom of my heart anyone who purchases my guides and helps spread the word about the guides on social media. Just click on the share button below so people struggling with their Ukrainian genealogy know that there is an affordable publication to help them.

A review of the guide was published here.

I am waiting for “Genealogy at a Glance: Ukrainian Genealogy Research” to be made available on Amazon. Follow this blog with the top right button to catch the news on the guides. (Contact me at veramiller on verizon.net for purchases outside Amazon’s international shipping area.)

Next month marks the 10th anniversary for “Find Lost Russian & Ukrainian Family”. I never imagined such a strong interest and support for this blog to last this long. I will be announcing some giveaways so stay tuned!

Related posts:
Newly published Russian genealogy guide available on Amazon.com in USA and Canada
Newly published genealogy guide will help get a better hold on Russian genealogy

Arolsen Archives updates its WWII database once again

The most important database for researching Nazi persecution victims and displaced persons of WWII is updated once again.

The update was announced on Ancestry on Sept. 9 but the same records are appearing on Arolsen Archives’s database. Ancestry is offering free access to the records here for the database, “Europe, Registration of Foreigners and German Persecutees, 1939-1947″

With my father’s and mother’s families arriving in the U.S.A. in the early 1950s after remarkable survival during WWII, I searched the database for new information on my relatives.

The search uncovered that my paternal grandmother’s 18-year-old daughter, two brothers, a sister-in-law, and a 14-year-old nephew were forced laborers of Saurerwerke AG in Vienna, Austria.

They were forced to build armored reconnaissance vehicles, tank transporters, and tank engines. Thanks to a Twitter follower, I was directed to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, 1933-1945 to learn more about the forced laborer camp.

Family documents of my aunt show she, her mother and brother also were forced laborers of the Austrian railroad at times the Allied Forces were aggressively bombing Vienna. It was sheer luck that my father’s family survived these air raids.

Meanwhile, my maternal great-grandparents and two children survived air raids in Berlin. I have yet to find records on them in the Arolsen Archives database.

Here are some tips to take full advantage of this wonderful database:

  • Remember that people during WWII lied on records to survive so be open-minded when viewing records. My grandfather lied that he was born in Bialystok, Poland, instead of Kyiv, Ukraine.
  • Use a text document to keep track of which relatives and ancestors you have searched.
  • Consider every possible relative and ancestor who was affected by WWII. A document on a distant cousin could have information that can breakdown a brickwall.
  • Don’t ignore matches that seem off by a month, day or year for birth dates. The dates may have been mistyped for the database.
  • Another date issue is the switching of Julian calendar dates to the current Gregorian calendar. It can affect dates involving immigrants from the former USSR. Check out this page for more information.
  • Use every known spelling of your relatives or ancestors before giving up searches on them.
  • Remember village, town and city names can change over time. Before eliminating matches by location, research the locations for name changes.
  • Germans switch y’s to j’s and v’s to w’s. Also vowels may be switched, too.
  • Make sure to view all the results for your searches, even matches with limited information. Check out the records for each match to confirm whether they are connected to your family.
  • Remember to download records, even those that are not definite matches.
  • When you find different spellings for your relatives and ancestors, consider using those spellings when searching for them in other databases.

Those who don’t find any records this time shouldn’t lose hope. More records will be posted online in the near future.

Follow this blog with the top right button to catch news on important databases for Ukrainian and Russian genealogy. I hope to make my big announcement about another project on Sept. 18 or the following weekend.

Related posts:
New WWII database fills in family’s story for escape from Soviet Ukraine
Russian archives introduce new WWII database on Nazi victims
Major German forced laborer database on Ostarbeiters goes online

Largest Ukrainian Orthodox cemetery in USA gets documented on FindAGrave

This past April, I went on a mission. I didn’t care that I was feeling the effects of my second COVID-19 vaccine. I took about 3,500 photos of graves in the largest Ukrainian Orthodox cemetery in the USA over three days.

It was three years ago that I discovered the massive cemetery of St. Andrew Cemetery in South Bound Brook, New Jersey, my beloved home state.

My most recent visit was my third to the cemetery for my FindAGrave project and I can confidently say that the vast majority of graves at the cemetery are documented and photographed on FindAGrave here.

Almost 7,800 people are listed for this cemetery on FindAGrave. My contribution was about 6,400 memorial pages. I retyped names, birthplaces and other important notes from gravestones in Ukrainian.

St. Andrew Cemetery is the second largest Ukrainian cemetery on FindAGrave, with the largest cemetery sitting in Canada. I grew up one hour away from this cemetery, completely unaware of the large Ukrainian community so close to my childhood home.

It didn’t take long for me to understand the importance of this immigrant cemetery. Many of these people came from western Ukraine, Galicia and Bukovina. The lives these people left behind in the old country were unforgettably hard and noted in history books.

The simple lines of information engraved on the stones told me that the people buried here didn’t want the past forgotten and it must be remembered for future generations.

Several gravestones mention the deaths of relatives who died in the Gulag. Too many gravestones note the death of relatives from Holodomor. One man came to the USA after German soldiers killed and burned his wife and daughter.

The people who fought for the independence of Ukraine are buried in a veterans section and throughout the cemetery. The stories they could tell would be amazing, in addition to their escape from Soviet Ukraine.

Many obituaries of the people buried at Saint Andrew Cemetery tell the story of surviving World War II and coming to the USA with new hope. They had notable career successes and brought Ukrainian culture to the USA to keep alive the beautiful culture of the old country.

(Click this link for the cemetery’s history and notable burials.)

My own family came from Ukraine after escaping in 1943 and living several years in southern Germany before coming to the USA. My mother, her parents, aunts and uncle and many cousins were born in Ukraine. I am still in contact with the Ukrainian family my grandfather left behind.

Those with Ukrainian ancestry are highly encouraged to look at the names from the FindAGrave page for St. Andrew Cemetery to get insight on spelling surnames from Ukraine.

The most surprising part of completing this project was seeing husbands and wives with different spellings of their last names, unrelated to gender-related changes. Also, the Polish influence of spelling of last names made it challenging to find documents on these immigrants on Ancestry.com for confirming official English versions of their names. This made me even more determined to document them for this cemetery.

The last portion of documenting St. Andrew Cemetery was almost a daily obsession to translate the Ukrainian gravestones from April to last week. The amazing lives of these immigrants and their efforts to bring Ukrainian culture for future generations to the USA made all the effort worthwhile.

Blog news: One more major announcement is on the way in the next few weeks. My second project was completed in the middle of the FindAGrave project. These projects slowed down my ability to post to this blog but it was well worth it. Follow this blog with the top right button to catch the announcement.

Photo credit of cemetery: https://uocofusa.org/cemetery

Related posts:
The art of researching Ukrainian ancestors on Ancestry.com
Guide to finding the mystery family villages of Russia and Ukraine
Guide for spelling Russian and Ukrainian names to break those solid brickwalls
Best tips on uncovering U.S. documents on mysterious Soviet Union relatives

New WWII database fills in family’s story for escape from Soviet Ukraine

For years, I have been wondering about where are the records of my family living under Nazi occupation in Kyiv, Ukraine. Luckily, the records landed in my hands out of nowhere.

My second cousin in Kyiv discovered the records online in the Babyn Yar database (#2 and #3) and messaged me randomly on Facebook. It had been awhile since I found any records online for my Ukrainian genealogy.

Once he showed me the database where he found the record on my grandfather, I began to search for the rest of my family who escaped Kyiv as Volksdeutsche to return to German-controlled areas. The records document the birth date, marital status, address, family members and employment of each person. These documents likely helped my family get identified as Volksdeutsche to leave Soviet Ukraine.

My grandfather had to leave Kyiv as soon as possible due to being a former Ukrainian Army POW of the Germans. Many Ukrainian Army POWs were sent to the Gulag for “giving into” the Germans. Also, having a half-German wife wasn’t in his favor, either.

(I have created a downloadable file –reading combined text documents -for using Ukrainian and Russian databases with form records without knowing the languages.)

My maternal grandmother’s mother was a German from Bialystok, Poland (then Russia when she born). She met my great-grandfather as a peasant immigrant of western Russia in Kyiv. My grandmother, her brother and sister were born in Kyiv, along with my mother whose father also was born there.

My mother was only an infant when she escaped to Poland with her parents, maternal grandparents, uncle and possibly an aunt (who is mysteriously missing from the database).

Sample record from the database:

Thanks to the scanned documents on the Babyn Yar database, I know my grandparents and great- grandparents were living in the same apartment building. My grandparents were in apartment 25 and my grandmother’s parents were in apartment 34. I always wondered about how they managed to meet up for the escape but they probably met in the same apartment before they started their journey.

Strangely, my great-grandparents don’t mention their unmarried daughter when asked about the family demographics.

That daughter just died in June, just missing her 96th birthday this month. She returned to Ukraine after the war and survived. My grand aunt wouldn’t talk about the past, “It’s all bad… I did whatever it took to survive,” she told my mom over the phone from her village home in Russia.

My mom, the oldest child, doesn’t knows anything about the escape from Kyiv, except that she was 9 months old and her father wishes he took more family photos with him.

My mother was missing as a family member at my grandparents’ apartment on the Nazi occupation records. It makes me wonder about whether my grandparents and great-grandparents were planning their escape before my mom’s birth.

The pieces are coming together to learn more about my family’s escape that saved my family during the war. Thankfully, staying connected with my cousins who are children of the family my grandfather left behind are helping to make this happen.

Coming next: I have been working on two major projects. They will be announced in late August and early September. Follow this blog with the top right button to catch the news.

Related posts:
Russian archives introduce new WWII database on Nazi victims
Database reveals details on citizens, evacuees and soldiers from the Siege of Leningrad
Major German forced laborer database on Ostarbeiters goes online