The most annoying part of researching my paternal grandmother’s family has been obtaining her oldest brother’s birth record.
Two and a half years ago I got her other four brothers’ birth records for a mere $6.80 US dollars. The oldest brother, of course, had to be born in a different village. Nothing comes uncomplicated in my genealogy research.
By the time I discovered the name of the village where Grand Uncle Nick was born, a new archive office director rolled in with restrictive rules for obtaining records.
The researcher who obtained four birth records needed me to send him a power of attorney agreement and documents proving ancestry to my grand uncle.
This all for an unmarried and childless man who died more than 40 years ago and was born in 1891. Then the researcher unloaded his price for getting one measly record- $125.
I was livid. I had to give enough documents to have my identity stolen in Ukraine. This researcher claimed the price included the cost of translating my power of attorney agreement.
So I sent all my documents to prove ancestry directly to archives to get this birth record on my own. Not one response from any Ukrainian agency. Sometimes the Consulate General of Ukraine sends responses from archives but not this time.
It felt hopeless again. I started itching for this record once again this fall. I e-mailed a member on the most popular Russian language genealogy forum when I saw he visits the same archives.
The e-mail exchanges started in November. Thanks to the first researcher, I had the exact file number to get the record from another researcher. Things started back to where I was before when the second researcher told me he needed a power attorney agreement and documents to prove ancestry.
Then somehow the second researcher made a deal with archives to by-pass the rules but for a price- $200. I immediately sent an e-mail message how much I’ve paid for records in Ukraine and St. Petersburg and the price was quickly lowered to $150 with a guarantee for photos of the record.
I was guaranteed the record exists in archives even with the recent invasion of this archive office by sticky-fingered Russians and reminded that prices are high for being in a war-torn area. The archives had to be moved away from the Ukrainian/Russian border.
I was told to agree to $150 that day because he got a special arrangement that wouldn’t last for long. I just wanted this ordeal over. Then the money couldn’t be sent to him directly but to some random woman in Russia because so many businesses are still shut down from the war.
I didn’t find this all suspicious because this man stuck around since November with my complaints and stress. The money was securely sent by Western Union last week and the researcher gave me the birth record scans even before his friend had a chance to pickup the money.
Western Union still has the money. That says a lot about the researcher. He could have run off with $150 American dollars, a lot of money in Ukraine and for me.
In the end, I wish that this record didn’t come at this price. But with the history of record destruction in the Soviet Union, I am not going to let this record vanish in some Russia versus Ukraine war.