Ukrainian Archives working hard to post even more records online

The effort to digitize Ukrainian archive records continues even though the Russian war won’t end in Ukraine.

State Archives of the Cherkasy Region just signed an agreement on September 21 with FamilySearch to scan its records. A visit to the State Archives of the Zakarpattia Region in early September by Anatoly Khromov, State Archive Service of Ukraine director, included a discussion about working with FamilySearch for scanning records.

The newest addition to FamilySearch’s scanning of records was the Central State Historical Archive of Ukraine in Lviv in late August. The scanning project is expected to continue until 2025 to scan about 4 million sheets of records, according to the State Archive Service of Ukraine’s announcement.

In addition to working hard to scan more records in Ukraine, FamilySearch has been updating its searchable databases on its website. Check out the updates to Ukraine, Kiev Confession Lists, 1741-1918; Ukraine, Zaporizhia Poll Tax Census (Revision Lists), 1811-1858; Ukraine, Donetsk Church Books, 1809-1928; Ukraine, Odesa Church Books, 1780-1898; and Ukraine, Odesa Census Records 1897.

At the same time, Kyiv Regional Archives has quite busy updating its new database of birth, marriage, divorce and death indexed records from 1919-1945. Now, the database has more than 145,000 births, 35,000 marriages, 1,300 divorces and 66,000 deaths.

The Ukrainian martyrologist of the 20th century database also has been updated to document the persecution of more than 94,000 victims of Soviet-era persecutions.

Two years ago, I missed the introduction of the Mykolaiv Region’s Soviet-era persecutions database. Almost 10,000 victims can be searched in this database.

A nice selection of scanned archive records has been posted online in the past two months.

The State Archive of the Kharkiv Region has posted 25 books of  birth, marriage and death records from the 1920s-1930s. Also, a large collection Jewish birth, marriage, divorce and death records from 1890-1912 under Fund 958 can be found here.

In Lviv, the state archives has posted 10 books of the Department of State Registration of Civil Status Acts of the State Registration Office of the Main Territorial Department of Justice for 1940–1941.

The Ukrainian Central Orthodox Church posted 178 books from the Roman Catholic church from Lviv.

Twenty-three metric books for Zhytomyr have been posted online to this page and also here. To view the scans for this region, Tonido needs to be downloaded.

The State Archives of Dnipropetrovsk Region has been busy scanning. It added scans of birth records from the Church of Annunciation in Katerynoslav from 1900-1907 here; scans of birth, marriage and death records from Holy Trinity Church of Kamiansk for 1907-1920 here and scans of birth, marriage and death records from the Church of Annunciation in Katerynoslav from 1894-1899 here.

Those with ancestors from Bukovina will be glad to know the Society of Librarians of Bukovina is scanning State Archive of Chernivtsi records of educational institutions from the period that Bukovina was part of Romania (1918-1940).

The future is getting brighter for Ukrainian genealogy. Let’s all pray the archive records recently stolen will be returned.

Newly added record sets mentioned in this post have been added to the Scanned Russian and Ukrainian Archive Records page.

Photo courtesy of the State Archive Service of Ukraine website

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An in-depth look into FamilySearch’s efforts to digitize Ukrainian archives

The excitement that FamilySearch had returned to Ukraine in last late spring was hard to contain. Then, the war started in February, putting the major project in an unusual situation.

But FamilySearch has been back in Ukraine for a few months, determined to make the digitization of Ukrainian archive records a success.

Sasha Sichkarenko, an official representative of FamilySearch in Ukraine, kindly agreed to answer my questions, the same questions so many of us researching in Ukraine have been wondering about. Here are his unedited answers.

How would you describe the project of the scanning archive records in Ukraine at this time?

We don’t scan, we take images using professional digital cameras like Nikon. The project is gaining momentum because of the urgent need to preserve as many archival historical documents as possible, to preserve the heritage of Ukraine for future generations – this need became even more acute during the full-scale war started by Russia.

Where are FamilySearch staff scanning records now?

Currently, we work in three central archives (TsDIAK, TsDIAL, and TsDAVO) and five regional ones (Kyiv, Mykolaiv, Poltava, Khmelnytskyi, Chernivtsi). FamilySearch hires contractors, and they are already filming directly in the archives.

What was the situation like for those scanning records when the war started?

When the full-scale phase of the war with Russia began in February 2022, we were going to go with a contractor to Chernihiv and then to Sumy to install equipment and start work. The war prevented us from doing this.

The archives’ officials suspended work for a week or two in the rest of the archives, and then everyone expressed a desire to return to work. So we did.

Since several operators evacuated, one female operator, who remained in the city, started work in the Mykolaiv regional archive. But the same day, a Russian rocket exploded 150 meters from the archive and destroyed the regional state administration building. The blast wave broke all the windows and partially the frames in the archive. Still, the camerawoman miraculously remained unharmed because heavy curtains from the Soviet era hung on the windows, and the glass of the broken window could not get inside the room. Unfortunately, work in Mykolaiv has been temporarily suspended due to the city’s daily shelling with rockets.

How challenging has it been to keep staff to scan the records during the war?

It was interesting to see how the first fears were quickly replaced by a strong desire to continue the work and help preserve our national historical heritage. Therefore, we did not have to persuade anyone to return to work. After consulting the archives, the contractors put us in front of the fact: “We continue to work; we can’t wait any longer.”

We still feel how, before the challenges of time, archivists and contractors united, they improved the work process so that it was done better, with high quality, and faster.

What has the mood been like with Ukrainian archive staff to have these records scanned? Is there any hesitation from archive staff about having these records scanned?

There are always hesitations because archivists love their work and value the documents they have to preserve. And that’s why I consider their cautious attitude to be natural. It would be strange if we did not observe their caution and worries.

But at the same time, FamilySearch has an excellent reputation and vast experience. When the work in the first archives began, the rest of the interested or hesitant representatives started to carefully observe the progress of the projects, how everyone involved organized the work, how the mood changed in the archives, and where we gave the first funds of use with digital images. Most likely, they are satisfied with what they learn every week or every month. The projects are progressing successfully.

Now we see how more and more archives express their desire to become a part of this vast digitization project here in Ukraine. Several archives are already waiting to sign their contracts, and some more are in the process of preparing their proposition to FamilySearch.

How many records do you estimate have been scanned since late spring 2021 in Ukraine?

I don’t know how to estimate. Usually, one operator in the ideal circumstances makes 500,000 images per year. Now we have 11 operators who worked for one year and 19 who joined the process in different months.

What has been the process to get these records quickly onto FamilySearch.org?

FamilySearch is constantly working on improving programs and processes, so it is difficult to say precisely what has changed in recent years. But now, when the operator digitizes a document, it appears on the website in a couple of weeks. It depends on the project, specifics of the contract, and a particular record type; these documents can be immediately visible to the general public or hidden for a specific time.

What are the plans to get these records indexed? When is it expected that the indexing will begin?

Indexing projects mainly depend on a volunteer corps at every stage of the process. During the war, many people lost their homes, forced to live somewhere abroad in unusual conditions. Many are now in the ranks of the Ukrainian army or help the military as volunteers. Some manage to work and volunteer.

And so we can say only one thing: We will index all the records we digitize, but we do not know the terms of these projects yet. After the war is over, we can sit down and discuss our indexing plans.

When is FamilySearch expected to begin scanning in new areas? Are particular regions of Ukraine of interest to FamilySearch?

During many official meetings between FamilySearch and the State Archive Service of Ukraine, we stated that we are strategic partners. The Government of Ukraine has included cooperation with FamilySearch in its plans to digitize the National Archival Fund for the coming years (5-10 years or beyond). Therefore, we plan to help with this issue in all country regions.

How long is it expected for FamilySearch to take to scan records from all the areas of Ukraine?

Just one example: TsDIAK or Central Historical Archives of Ukraine in Kyiv’s project has 14 million pages or images. With five operators in this archive, this amount could be digitized in six years. But the archive can add even more images to the project. Plus, the archives are joining the train at different times. As you can see, this task to digitize everything in all regional archives is for years and years.

Is scanning in eastern Ukraine and the Crimea expected to be possible anytime in the near future?

If the vaults of those archives stay intact, we can work there for sure. We want to be beneficial to our country. But we know that Russia is stealing the archival documents from everywhere it comes, so it is challenging to tell what remains of the old funds we’ll see in the future in the freed lands of Ukraine.

Photo Credit: Official Ukrainian Archives website

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Ukrainian archives move ahead with digitized records and a new database

A war is hitting Ukraine in many directions so Ukrainian archive officials know the time is now to get records online.

A lot of movement is being seen with Kyiv Regional Archives, which just released a new database of indexed birth, marriage, divorce and death records from 1919-1945.

So far, the database has more than 51,000 births,  2,500 marriages,  500 divorces, and 67,000 deaths. Hopefully, this database will continue to grow with more indexed records.

(The above image shows the perks of using a language translator web browser such as Google Translate, which also can translate names into Ukrainian here.)

Not only has Kyiv Regional Archives added that database, the archive has added another 14,800 surnames between May and June for its Filtering cases of repatriates of Kyiv Region database.

Kyiv Regional Archives estimate it possesses 115,000 filtering cases. So far, 78,000 cases are indexed in the the database. FamilySearch is scanning the cases so the files can be viewed online in the near future.

Another development with WWII-related records has been the release of 1 million Holocaust-related record scans from Ukrainian archives to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. These records are searchable here.

Once the scanning of Holocaust-related records are complete, it is expected the database will have about 10 million scans.

Another important set of records on the Ukrainian Jewish population that have been posted online is Fund 505, “All-Ukrainian Commission for Land Management of Working Jews under the Presidium of the VUCVK (UkrKOMZET), Kharkiv, 1923-1933.” More than 126,000 scans from this fund are online.

Ukrainian archives also are working toward better documentation of Soviet-era persecution. Another 2,700 persecution victims of the 1920s-1950s were added to a central database here. More than 90,000 people are documented in the database.

The State Archive of the Volyn Region also has posted another 191 criminal cases from the Soviet era. Go to the bottom of this page for Fund 4666 and a PDF file will appear for each volume.

A more complete documentation of the Soviet-era persecution will need the cooperation of nearby countries. Ukrainian officials met their counterparts from Moldova on July 15 to exchange information on Soviet persecution victims who were Ukrainians and Moldovans in each other’s countries.

Ukrainian archives also are trying to document Czechs and Slovaks who faced the same persecution in Ukraine.  Central State Archive of Public Associations of Ukraine and Institute for Research of Totalitarian Regimes of the Czech Republic signed an agreement in June for this project.

In addition to the focus on WWII- and Soviet-persecution files, various Ukrainian archives have been posting metric records and civil registrations.

State Archive of the Dnipropetrovsk Region added more scans of its church books here. Links to the scanned records start after the stated year. For example, Арк. 1-70 in Ukrainian or Ark. 1-70 in English (using the Google Translate web browser app) are the links to click.

State Archive of Lviv Region posted four civil registration books for the Mykolaiv District (1940–1941). The files were posted here on Google Drive.

State Archive of Rivne Oblast has posted 30 record books for Goshcha, 1900–1903, Bochanytsia, 1884–1897, Bugryn, 1863–1907, Vilhir, 1863–1905, Horbakiv, 1863–1900, and Dorohobuzh, 1863–1899.

A unique set of records was posted on the website of the State Archive of the Sumy Region- Letters (with photos) of citizens forcibly taken to work in Germany in 1941-1943.

Let the scans from Ukrainian archives to continue flowing online.

Follow this blog with the top right button for the latest news in Ukrainian and Russian genealogy.

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One line in a police file leads to a great-grandfather’s Russian mine purchase

I have been slowly chipping away to complete the story of my paternal great-grandfather’s short life of 48 years.

Police records for his involvement with the People’s Will Movement in the 1880s mentioned that he was a mountain foreman who served in the Novocherkassk Mining Administration. I asked my favorite genealogist in southern Russia about how this information could be researched in archives.

She didn’t know where the information could be found in archives. Determined to find some new information in these strange times, I posted in the largest Russian-language genealogy forum for help.

Three days later, a forum member responded by asking for additional information on my great-grandfather. The member found a file in the regional archives two days later on my great-grandfather buying a mine, even better than an old personnel file.

My genealogist ordered the file from archives, extracted information and ordered scans for me. I received the information just three days ago.

(A drawing from the Russian archive file for the mine, which had an office in Kharkiv. Having the office in Kharkiv -where my great-grandfather married- may open more research possibilities in Ukrainian archives.)

The 50-page file had a lot of boring and useless legal language but it was interesting to know that my great-grandfather was able to invest 10,000 rubles for the three-man partnership that bought the mine. His investment was a little more than the value of his three homes combined in the southern Russian city where my grandmother and father were born.

The mine was located in the Donetsk Region (now eastern Ukraine), where coal mining still is an important part of the economy. I had wondered if the mine is still open. My great-grandfather bought it in 1905, which was 7 years before he died of a heart attack.

A search using Russian keywords from my researcher’s extracted information found a little information on Google. Then I repeated the same search on Yandex, a popular Russian search engine, and found even more the history of the area of my great-grandfather ‘s mine.

Twelve mines, owned by private individuals, were still open in that area about 10 years ago, according to a forum on WWII history. Sadly, the German army used the mining area as a prisoner of war camp.

My great-grandfather likely thought the mine was a worthy financial investment because a new railroad line was built near the mine in 1904. The mines in the area had been using horses to transport the coal. An even larger railroad line was built in 1907, according to Ukrssr.com.

Like any mine in the world at the time, the miners were poorly treated and Ukrssr.com details the Russian Revolution’s involvement to improve the conditions. The details about this mining area are quite impressive on Ukrssr.com, showing the importance of searching online in Russian or Ukrainian for more useful information. It’s as simple as copying and pasting text from a document or another website.

The Ukrssr.com website is based on a large project that started in 1962 to document the Soviet Era history of Ukraine. The website is written in Russian and has a search engine. Check out this resources here and the resource was added to the Link to Resources Page.

Determination to find more information will uncover some amazing resources. Great stories can be completed by moving away from English-based online searching with the help of Google Translate’s web browser app…

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An empty-handed search shows the path to an even better discovery
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Secrets of searching the Internet in Russian and Ukrainian like a native speaker 

Ukrainian archives work hard to keep records safe and introduce a central portal

Anyone watching the news on the Russian war against Ukraine can’t believe the amount of destruction taking place on a daily basis. But Ukrainian archive officials know the importance of the records in their possession.

That’s why the Ukrainian National Guard is protecting the archives.

“The practice of war has shown that there are no safe regions in Ukraine,” said Anatoly Khromov, head of Ukrainian archives on the State Archival Service of Ukraine portal. “Each area is under fire,  so we have very carefully decided when and what can be taken out. … Evacuation does not always save.”

It has been amazing that the Kyiv Regional Archives has posted scanned records six times since the war started in late February. Those updates have included additional filtration files of Kyiv Region residents who were taken as forced laborers by Germany during World War II and more than 100,000 registrations of births, deaths and marriages.

Sadly, Ukrainian archives announced the Soviet-era persecution records located in Chernihiv were destroyed. It is believed that the archives in the Crimea and Donetsk and Luhansk regions were relocated by the Russians, according to an announcement made this month.

“The decision to impose sanctions on 15 individuals and 7 legal entities of Russia for actual actions or attempts to steal or illegally use archival documents concerning Crimea and certain districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions is in the final stages,”  Khromov announced this week.

He plans to address the return of those archive records after the country wins the war against Russia, according to this week’s announcement.

Khromov admitted this week that only 5 percent of archive records have been digitized.

But State Archival Service of Ukraine is ready for modernization with a newly launched central portal that is expected to grow with scanned records from throughout the country.

“We have not given up on our plans, and today we can present a pilot version of an important resource that simplifies the lives of archivists and users in real time to millions of users, even during the war” Khromov said. “The digital resources of the three central state archives of Ukraine are presented on a single platform with access through a single window, together with almost 1.5 million full-text scanned copies of archival documents, to which a full-fledged search engine has been created. These are the Central State Archive of the highest authorities and administration of Ukraine, the Central State Archive of Public Associations of Ukraine, the Central State Archive-Museum of Literature and Art of Ukraine.”

That portal with scanned records can be found at here. Kyiv Regional Archives is considering to join this portal. Due to the war, it is not possible to connect other Ukrainian archives to the portal at this time, according to last week’s announcement.

Those who prefer to see scanned records by area from Ukrainian archives should take a look at the Scanned Russian and Ukrainian Archive Records page. It will be regularly updated with links to scanned records. Patience with links to Ukrainian archives is needed as the war has been interfering with Internet connections.

The Scanned Russian and Ukrainian Archive Records page includes links to scanned records of FamilySearch, which began scanning records at Ukrainian archives late spring 2021. The work is expected to continue once it is safe to continue the project.

The page for Ukraine on FamilySearch has been updated several times with scanned records since the war started.

Before FamilySearch began its project of scanning Ukrainian archive records, Alex Krakovsky was busy scanning millions of records. His scanned records can be found here. It took quite the fight with the Ukrainian court system for Krakovsky to scan the records.

Another person posting scanned archive records is Marcin Stręciwilk-Kowal. His collection of scans can be found here.

The future is bright for Ukrainian genealogy as long as Ukrainian archives stays successful in securing the safety of their records. Let’s all pray for an end of this war very soon so Ukraine can have the peace it deserves.

Follow this blog with the top right button to keep up with the latest news in Ukrainian and Russian genealogy.

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