A family photo has been a mystery for years. It is known that my great-grandfather is standing in the center among his workers but where was his business located?
I have asked this question to cousins of my mother’s generation. No one could answer this question.
It took a stranger on a forum to help me answer this question. I asked for help on the largest Russian-speaking genealogy forum and my question was finally answered in two days.
Thanks to the address directory of Kiev from 1913, the mystery is solved- 91 Sovskaya Street.
Sadly, the address no longer exists but the street still stands. It is amazing that the some houses still look similar to when the photo was taken 105 years ago.
All I knew is that my great-grandfather had a successful construction business that employed about 100 men in Kiev. The name of the business is still a mystery.
There are rumors that my great-grandfather worked with a famous architect in Kiev but that has yet to be proven. My grandfather told his family that Joseph Stalin requested that my great-grandfather make him a statue. That’s another story that I can’t confirm yet.
Thanks to knowing that the eldest sister of my grandfather was born in Kiev in 1905, I know an estimate of when my great-grandparents left Kursk Region, Russia. They married, had their first child and lost him in Kursk Region by 1904.
It is a shame that census records don’t exist for the early 20th century for Kiev. That’s why the old address books of Kiev can be gems of information.
They are online here on a Ukrainian website. Simply paste Весь Киев in the box next to Ключові слова, click on the second selection next to налаштування and press return to see all the old Kiev address books.
It has taken me several years to get used to searching keywords in Russian documents. Doing research this way hasn’t been easy and so much time passed when nothing useful was found.
The sad reality is that the best online genealogy information and help for Ukrainian genealogy is in Russian or Ukrainian. Too many people want to know about their ancestors but don’t even try the online translation tools such as Google Translate nor learn basic Ukrainian or Russian.
I was once one of those stubborn people even with knowing some basic Russian from my childhood. After I gave in to trying out the Russian and Ukrainian websites, I’ve had success after success.
That’s what it takes to get past the basic facts of our Russian Empire ancestors and bring their lives back into full color.
The cure for fearing Russian-language genealogy websites to make breakthroughs
Guide to Using the Best & Largest Russian Language Genealogy Forum (with a English video guide)
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Guide to finding family in Ukraine like a native expert