Millions of records are available online for those researching their ancestors from the former Russian Empire. These records are completely free to access and download.
But still so many people won’t touch a link for a website in Russian. I’m trying to figure out why when Google Translate makes it so much easier to use these websites.
Using these Russian websites isn’t a computer safety issue. I only use Malwarebytes to protect my computer from malicious websites and my computer is completely safe.
So many of the best Russian websites have information never found on the subscription genealogy websites. Russian genealogy research online is possible even if you don’t know Russian.
I do have the advantage of having a father born in Russia and mother born in Ukraine. My father died when I was 10 years old. The pressure to know and speak Russian was released.
I was so horrible at learning Russian that I kept repeating first grade in Russian school. The teachers didn’t know how to get me to learn Russian like the other kids.
I still can’t have a simple conversation in Russian. My pronunciation is off and my knowledge of Russian grammar is embarrassing. I have relearned Russian from my childhood and learned more Russian words from using Google Translate.
Thanks to Google Translate and my refusal to fear Russian-language genealogy websites, I am in contact with my grandfather’s family in Kiev, great-grandfather’s brother’s family in Moscow, my great-grandmother’s brother’s family in Saint Petersburg and some very distant cousins in Russia.
Not only that, I have found the best researchers in Russia to research my family tree back to the 1600s and obtained documents on my family I never thought could be found online and at archives.
All the success stories written on this blog could happen to anyone who follows these tips and does thorough research on their relatives and ancestors.
- Open Google Translate and one of the following websites: WWII casualties and MIA soldiers, WWII soldiers’ records, WWI soldiers’ records, or victims of political terror database.
- Copy and paste the link of the selected Russian website into Google Translate into the empty left box. Click on Russian above that box, English above the right box and then the translate button.
- Now view the website in Russian and English. Does the Russian website in English seem less intimidating than its original form?
These websites can’t be searched in English but that problem can be solved quickly.
Visit Transliterating English to Russian in One Step to get several possible spellings of your family names. I highly recommend copying and pasting the translated names into a Microsoft Word document or a text document.
Once that is completed, searching Russian databases is easy as copying and pasting the Russian keywords. Then when the results appear, just copy and paste them into Google Translate.
If the results are too large for Google Translate, just copy and paste into Google Translate in chunks or use the find tool of your Internet browser. Copy and paste the Russian keywords into the find tool.
If nothing is found, start deleting one letter at a time due to the changing endings of words in Russian grammar (my struggle with Russian).
Genealogy research in the former Russian Empire involves lots of emotional sweat, especially for those who aren’t fluent in Russian. How much do you want to find your grandmother’s family never heard from again after WWII? What records on your relatives have been waiting to be found by you?
The Russian-language websites have the ability to knock down those strong brickwalls but it’s up to you whether you want to face the challenge of using Russian websites.
Secrets of searching the Internet in Russian and Ukrainian like a native speaker
Guide to finding family in Ukraine like a native expert
Guide to Using the Best & Largest Russian Language Genealogy Forum (with a video guide in English)