I thought I had uncovered everything possible on my great-grandfather Vasil. So much money has been spent researching his short 48-year life. What else could possibly be discovered after eight intensive years of research?
Just out of curiosity, I started searching for more information on his technical college in eastern Ukraine on Google. Quickly I found old photos of the school where he learned about mining.
One website had a great photo of the school property and then I scrolled down to discover graduation photos. Then there he was in the class of 1884 with his long beard and receding hairline.
I couldn’t stop smiling and immediately called the only living grandchild of my great-grandfather. She really needed the good news as she is dealing with an infection affecting her health and mood.
It’s hard to believe that I found the college graduation photo of my great-grandfather from 1884. This is all thanks to a museum that has been taking care of the album of graduation photos.
The photo has been online for two years, waiting for me to discover it. I never even thought to pursue graduation photos of my ancestors. Years of research in Ukraine never made me think that this could even be available online.
It took nothing special to find this photo of my great-grandfather at age 20. I only searched the school’s name and the word museum in Russian on Google, thanks to help from Google Translate. My basic Russian skills from my childhood have been built up through years of researching my ancestors from Ukraine and Russia.
Discovery genealogy gems didn’t start until I began using Google Translate to maneuver around Russian and Ukrainian websites. First, there was a lot of copying and pasting into Google Translate. Now, I also use Google Translate’s browser app to see websites automatically in English.
This latest discovery makes me wonder about what else is waiting for me. Genealogy is growing in popularity in the former USSR. More information and records will become available online as time goes on.
Those who switch their research from English to Russian and Ukrainian can turn their genealogy research from a never-ending brick wall to the yellow brick road. It just takes a small brave step to try Russian and Ukrainian websites.
The cure for fearing Russian-language genealogy websites to make breakthroughs
Secrets of searching the Internet in Russian and Ukrainian like a native speaker
Guide to Using the Best & Largest Russian Language Genealogy Forum (with a video guide)