Right now, the struggle to get a marriage record of paternal great-grandparents ranks as the most frustrating effort when this should be a simple process.
I e-mailed in December Kharkiv Regional Archives in Ukraine to obtain information from the 1890 marriage record of my paternal grandmother’s parents. The archives quickly responded within two weeks that it didn’t have the record, but the civil registry office could have the record.
So, I wrote a letter in March to the civil registry office after finding the address on Google. I provided proof of ancestry with various records that included my great-grandmother’s high school diploma and a patent record of my great-grandfather. Ukraine archives are known for being difficult but more accommodating when proof of ancestry is provided.
The idea that I have to prove ancestry to people born in the 1860s and 1870s is crazy, but apparently this is the only way to get information from the Ukrainian government. Ukraine is guarding records because people are obtaining official copies of relatives’ records to reclaim family property taken during the communist era. I do not have an ounce of interest in taking back family property in Ukraine.
So, I was excited when I received a letter from the Consult General of Ukraine in New York City. The civil registry office told the Consult General a birth record for the oldest son of my great-grandparents could not be found and that an extract of information from my great-grandparents’ marriage record could be provided for $75.
I should be somewhat happy with this response but I asked the civil registry office whether the parents’ names and birthplaces of my great-grandparents could be found on the marriage record. The civil registry office did not answer my questions. I already have a good portion of the marriage record rewritten on my great-grandmother’s high school diploma, thanks to her son whose birth record is missing. It would be great to see the actual record.
So, I asked a maternal grandfather’s grand niece in Kiev to call the civil registry office. She called the office and she was told to call Kharkiv Regional Archives, which informed her information cannot be given over the phone and she would need to prove ancestry to obtain information.
I was thinking the charm of a young Ukrainian woman would help me in figuring out what I would gain from spending $75 on a marriage record I mostly have rewritten. The other annoyance is that the Consult General wants me to appear in its office with a money order from the U.S. Postal Service and a photo identification.
Dealing with the Ukrainian government is not even simple on American soil. I will have to call the Consult General and ask whether I could mail the money order and a copy of my identification. A few years ago, I obtained an official birth record of my mother and a marriage record of her parents. I mailed everything last time. We’ll see how everything will turn out this time.