Google Translate helps reveal important communist-era records

I was ready to spend 250 Euros for research on my great-grandfather’s family until poor translations from Google Translate forced a researcher to reveal lesser known communist-era records.

The researcher sent me scans of a sample census record from World War II for my great-grandfather’s central Russian region. Then I noticed that the name of the record sounded familiar. That’s because a municipal archive already checked the same records for my relatives in their longtime family village.

Now, my 250 Euros are still sitting in my bank account because the researcher killed any chance I would need him to research my family. Being organized keeps you sane and financially wise in genealogy.

Now, I am getting another letter to municipal archives ready to research my family in a nearby small city. I recalled a granddaughter of my grandmother’s sister telling me that her grandmother and our great-grandfather visited our great-great-grandmother at her new residence.

So I am hoping that children of my great-great-grandmother moved with their mother to the same city. This family has been so difficult to research past the early 1900s that it is a perfect example of a brickwall.

Now, this frustrating and funny situation  with the researcher has inspired me. I have found an e-mail address for the registry office that should have the death record for my great-great-grandmother. I posted documents proving ancestry securely on a Google album.

It’s a miracle to find such a small Russian registry office with an e-mail account that works. So many times my messages to Russian archives have bounced back to me.

Now, my circus performance will be getting my letter to the municipal archives that has the World War II census records for my great-great-grandmother’s small city. The archive office’s address doesn’t have a street address.

Thanks to technology of the U.S. Postal Service, my letters to Russia that don’t have street addresses get returned to me. I have an e-mail address for a government office in that area that could help me but I’ll have to charm every inch of their soul.

I hope the story from my grand aunt’s granddaughter will help get information on my great-grandfather’s family. These census records called похозяйственной книги, which translates to household books, are the only Soviet Era records that could crumble this brickwall.

Other archives may have the same communist-era census records as переписи населения, which translates to backyard census. The communist government loved to track their citizens and that comes with great benefits for Russian genealogy.

These records are mostly at local archives, which report to the regional archives. Information on contacting these smaller archives are usually listed on regional archive websites.

Use the Russian phrases of похозяйственной книги and переписи населения and you will get the attention of archive staff. Then you may get surprised by what can be found in these records.

Last time, I got full names and birth dates of my great-grandfather’s favorite sister, husband and three children. Now, I am hoping to hit the jackpot one more time to avoid the restrictions at Russian registry offices for communist-era records.

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