I have been so blessed by the number of strangers who have helped me with my search for family. It gives me a lot of hope that my search will continue to become easier.
My greatest luck has been meeting my friend Svetlana in Moscow. I e-mailed her on a Russian genealogy forum because her grandfather had the same surname as my great-grandfather. I was hoping I could find a connection to her family.
We have not found a connection yet, but she has become a great friend. She has called relatives in Kiev several times to help me connect with the families of my grandfather’s siblings, translated e-mails from English to Russian and Russian to English and translated handwritten family documents. I can’t imagine meeting a kinder person.
My latest luck has been finding Dimitri from Kiev. I posted on forum.vgd.ru that I am struggling to find my maternal grandmother’s cousins. This is the biggest and thickest brick wall in my search. Dimitri has viewed records at Kiev archives three times to see if any information could be found on my family. No luck yet. He also called the church for my grandmother’s hometown to see whether records could be found on my family. Dimitri has not complained or asked for money.
Another guy on forum.vgd.ru responded to a post I made about finding information on the village of my grandmother’s father in Kursk. He gave me a few paragraphs on my family’s history in the village back to the late 1600s. Then, he gave me a name of a great genealogy researcher to study church records on my family. Thanks to the connection to the researcher, I have dates and places of birth for my great-grandfather’s siblings that will help me eventually find my grandmother’s cousins.
A woman on the same forum helped me find records available on the academy another great-grandfather attended in the late 1800s. I wrote to St. Petersburg archives and never got a response to my letter about the school’s records. Someone else gave me a referral to a professional researcher in St. Petersburg and that researcher will look at the records in December to see if information on my great-grandfather can be found.
Yesterday, I made a contact on a forum for the city where my great-grandfather lived as a young man. Sergei noticed my post about this blog in the genealogy thread and posted information to see if I could help find information on his great-grandfather who immigrated to the USA. I wrote back I will help him as much as I can and then I posted information I was seeking. He sent me a private e-mail message and he seems very eager to help me find information on my great-grandfather. He already wants to help me with archives to find more information on my great-grandfather.
Plenty of people are eager to help others find information on relatives and ancestors. The key is to find the best forums and know what to ask.
Upcoming: How to find and use Russian and Ukrainian forums to search for family.