Finding lost family online in a few clicks

I have tried several social networking sites to find long, lost Russian and Ukrainian family. Facebook is very popular worldwide but the ability to find Russians and Ukrainians from smaller communities is not that easy on Facebook. I give five stars to Odnoklassniki.

It seems every Russian and Ukrainian with Internet access is on Odnoklassniki, even the ones living in villages. I have yet to find a distant relative on the site but I may know in more than a month. A professional researcher is studying church records from Ivanskoye, Rila neighborhood, Kursk Region, for my great-grandmother Evdokia Kovaleva’s family line.

I found a woman living in the village whose maiden name was Kovaleva. She knows her grandfather’s full name. I gave my researcher her grandfather’s name so he can make sure he looks for the name in birth records. I am crossing my fingers that the guy was born by 1919, the last year for open church records. I am hoping her great-grandfather was brother of my great-grandmother.

The search engine on Odnoklassniki is very easy to use. I just provide a last name and the last village/town/city where my relatives lived written in Russian. As soon as I see someone approachable in the search results, I click on the envelope next to their name. Then, a box opens so I can send them a message.

I use Promt, a free online translator, to write my messages, then copy and paste the text onto Odnoklassniki. I also use the Google Toolbar so I can get around Russian sites more easily in English.

Some people, naturally, do not respond to my messages. Others tell me they don’t see a connection and wish me luck on my search.

There are two other Russian social networking sites – VKontakte, more popular, and less-known вКругуДрузей. VKontakte has more than 167 million users and вКругуДрузей has more than 13 million users. Odnoklassniki lands in the middle with about 45 million users. All three are worth checking out but it seems that Odnoklassniki attracts a lot of people from smaller communities of the former USSR.

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