FamilySearch on its way to make many more Ukrainian archive records digital

FamilySearch International has sealed a deal with the State Archival Services of Ukraine to scan records at Ukrainian archives. This is major news for anyone researching their ancestors from Ukraine.

What this really means for Ukrainian genealogy has been answered here by Sasha Sichkarenko, field relations manager of Ukraine for FamilySearch International.

“It is a huge day! It is fantastic news and a big step forward for modern-day Ukraine and its archives!,” he say. “… I’m happy that all components met in a perfect combination in the right place at the right time. This window of opportunity can bring a lot of positive and useful things to Ukraine, to the Ukrainian people, and to all who have Ukrainian ancestry and want to know their heritage.”

FamilySearch International has been working in Ukraine since 1994. That resulted in more than 20.5 million record scans from 16 regional archives being posted to the FamilySearch catalog, Sichkarenko says.

A break in FamilySearch International’s work occurred in 2011 due to political reasons. Then the situation started improving in 2013-14, he says.

“Society wanted to move away from the Soviet heritage and perverted cultural legacy of the communist regime. It demanded fundamental changes in governmental, economic, cultural directions, including dramatic renovation of the archival sphere,” Sichkarenko says. “Recent court decisions opened the opportunity to digitize historical records by individual researchers with their own smartphones and/or cameras. The archives felt the need to move into the digital era.”

The enthusiasm was heard from many directors at the regional archives who want to see the records digitized, he says.

That enthusiasm mixed with new State Archival Services of Ukraine leadership made the new agreement possible, Sichkarenko says.

Anatoly Khromov became the new director of State Archival Services of Ukraine in December 2019. He had served as deputy of the head of the Secret Service of Ukraine archive. Khromov was a speaker of FamilySearch’s “Family History Festival”.

Soon after Khromov took his position in February, FamilySearch International high-level leaders met with State Archival Services of Ukraine officials about cooperation and an agreement.

“As you can see, it took only 5 months to come from the intentions and goodwill to the announcement of the two signatures under the Memorandum,” Sichkarenko says. “This document will allow us to negotiate with regional archives for the digitization of their records.”

The ink is dried on the contract and FamilySearch International is ready to get busy with scanning archive records. Sichkarenko estimates the work will begin either in late summer or early autumn this year. The COVID-19 situation is delaying an immediate start on scanning, he says.

Sichkarenko has a list of all archive funds that focus on genealogical information that FamilySearch International wants to be included on its website.

That focus is well beyond just birth, marriage and death records. FamilySearch International wants to scan revisions, censuses, court and police records, 19th and 20th century newspapers with obituaries and other news, church prayer lists, Nazi occupation “card-indexes”, the “filtration documents” used to document Ukrainian forced laborers of Germany who were called Ostarbeiters and prisoners of WWII.

The other records of interest for FamilySearch International also include lists of orphans and widows of servicemen who died in WWI; personal files, career lists of employees with family information (late 19th to early 20th century), landownership materials; noble family records, books, maps, photos and gazetteers.

All these records that will be scanned will become available on the FamilySearch website at a time yet to be determined.  Once that happens, it will help complete so many family stories and family trees.

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