Russian State Public Historical Library offers amazing free genealogy document scans

A lot more Russian genealogy documents are sitting online waiting to be discovered than can be imagined.

Russian State Public Historical Library, the country’s largest scientific library specialized in history, keeps busy by posting scanned old books and booklets that can’t be found easily elsewhere. The website doesn’t involve any fees or registration and offers simple downloading.

The historical library has more than 200 genealogical and biological references on topics ranging from coats of arms to lists of mischief people expelled from Moscow here. I have listed below more than 35 books/booklets that would have the most interest.

Here is a link to a Zoom video that simply explains using the historical library website.

Most of the below books/booklets are listing people in alphabetical order.

Here is the order of the Russian alphabet:


Before panicking and closing this page, have your family surnames translated from English to Russian on Google Translate or here. Having the names in Russian is half the effort involved with using these books/booklets.

The next important step is downloading Google Translate browser app or any other similar app onto your desktop or laptop computer. The app will automatically put Russian State Public Historical Library’s website into English.

The last half of the effort involved is lots of clicking and comparing your Russian surnames to the text in front of you. Once you make it to a page with the starting letter of your surnames, it will be lots comparing to see if any information exists on your ancestors or relatives.

Here’s an example how the website looks like before becoming too intimidated by a Russian website:

Once you find your family surnames in these books/booklets for the first time even if it is nothing about your family, your confidence with Russian documents will boom. I promise.

Don’t panic if you are not sure whether you found anything of importance. Facebook is loaded with friendly genealogy enthusiasts to help with translations of your downloads.

Below these links are more important guides for Russian and Ukrainian genealogy. Remember to follow this blog with the top right button to catch more posts on free resources in Russian and Ukrainian genealogy.


Pedigree book of princes and noblemen of Russia and abroad. printed 1787

List of noblemen of the Kingdom of Poland, with a summary of the evidence of the nobility; Appendix II to the list of nobles of the Kingdom of Poland (in Polish) printed 1851

Yearbook of the Russian nobility (in French) printed 1899

An alphabetical index of persons who were granted privileges in 1901 printed 1901

A list of titled families and persons of the Russian Empire from 1894 to 1908 printed 1908

Genealogical information about Russian noblemen and noble families descended from extramarital unions printed 1915

Nobility by region:

An alphabetical list of the noble families of the Bessarabian province, included in the noble genealogy book printed 1901 (now Moldovia)

Alphabetical index of the noble families of the Kostroma province, included in the genealogy book, divided into six parts, from 1790 to 1899 printed 1900

Alphabetical list of noble families included in the genealogy of noble books of Mogilev province printed  1908 (now Belarus)

Moscow nobility: an alphabetical list of noble families with a brief indication of the most important documents in the genealogical files of the Archive of the Moscow noble deputy assembly printed 1910

List of noble families included in the genealogy book of the Penza province. printed 1900.

List of noble families of the Sedletsk province printed 1910 (now Poland)

The nobility of the Tula province. – Tula, 1899-1916. printed 1916

Coats of Arms:

The general coat of arms of the noble families of the All-Russian Empire, begun in 1797 printed 1836

The coat of arms of the noble families of the Kingdom of Poland, the highest approved (in Russian and Polish) printed 1853

Coats of arms of Little Russian noble families printed 1892


An alphabetical index of the names and firms of merchants, industrialists. printed 1899

Kazan merchant assembly. List of honorary and full members of the Kazan merchant assembly for 1914/Kazan merchant assembly printed 1914

Reference book about the persons of the Petrograd merchants and other ranks, joint-stock and share companies and trading houses, who received from November 1, 1915 to January 1, 1916 class certificates for the 1st and 2nd guilds, trade certificates of 1 and 2 categories for commercial enterprises, 1-5 grades for industrial enterprises, 2 and 3 grades for personal fishing activities. printed 1916


Alphabetical list of persons expelled from Moscow by order of his Excellency Mr. Moscow military governor-general, from August 11, 1848 to January 1, 1853 printed 1853

Alphabetical list of political criminals, deprived of the rights of state by court, whose property is subject to confiscation to the treasury, until October 1, 1864  printed 1865

Alphabetical index to books and pamphlets, as well as numbers of timed editions, the arrest of which was approved by court orders on April 15, 1914 printed 1915

Political Persecution:

Named and systematic index [to the historical-revolutionary bulletin “Hard labor and exile” for 1921-1925. printed 1928

Named and systematic index to the historical-revolutionary bulletin “Hard labor and exile” for 1926-1928. printed 1930

Political penal servitude and exile: biographical directory of members of the Society of Political Prisoners and Exiled Settlers printed 1929

Name index to the historical-revolutionary bulletin “Hard labor and exile” for 1929-1930. printed 1932

Political penal servitude and exile: biographical directory of members of the Society of Political Prisoners and Exiled Settlers. printed 1934


List of lieutenant colonels by seniority for Russian Imperial Army [1838, 1840, 1843-1844, 1848, 1842, 1855-1857, 1859, 1861-1881, 1883-1914]  Information about the passage of service, awards, and since 1887 – year of birth, religion, marital status, education. 

Alphabetical list of settlements in the Don Cossack Region. printed 1915.

Civil War:

Red heroes: a list of participants in the Civil War, awarded the Order of the Red Banner. printed 1920

A personal list of casualties at the front in the personnel of the workers ‘and peasants’ Red Army during the civil war. printed 1926

World War I

The second list of the killed, wounded, missing lower ranks of this war. printed 1915

Named list of wounded and sick soldiers in hospitals and infirmaries. – Pg., 1915-1916. printed 1916

Lists of Russian prisoners of war delivered from Germany. printed 1917

List of Russian subjects caught in the war abroad. printed 1914

List of addresses of refugees. printed 1916

List of Refugees Wanted by American Migrants printed 1916

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18 thoughts on “Russian State Public Historical Library offers amazing free genealogy document scans

  1. Dear Vera Miller,

    Many, many thanks for this invaluable information. Finally I think I can find the courage to pursue my search for my father’s family.

    My father, Alexis Annenkov was born in St. Petersburg in 1915, to Peter Stepanovich(?) Annenkov. Peter was a radio electronics engineer and he had two older sisters, Vera and Nina. Their parents both died young and Peter was raised by his mother, Yulia’s best friend, Nadia Makaroff who was a teacher and later director of a school for daughters of noble families (pre-1917). Both sisters married, Vera to an academic Professor Chatelaine and Nina to someone whose surname we don’t know.

    To cut a long story very short, the family ended up in New Zealand, changed their name, and my grandparents would not speak of their life in Russia. I think the trauma of escaping the communist regime silenced them. All we knew was that they were a “noble family, intellectuals.” My aunt told us that we were descended from the Decembrist, Ivan Annenkov, but we don’t know if this is true. Sadly most of the people with information died young. Both grandparents died young, then my father at age 50. They were all good people who taught kindness and generosity, and they loved their Russian heritage.

    My Babushka, Marie Annenkova was the daughter of Feodor Koshnitsky who was a mining engineer from South Ukraine, married to a Swiss woman, Maria Dupuis who had gone to St. Petersburg to be a governess.

    No one is left who can tell us much, and my siblings and cousins and our families would love to fill in the gaps. We are scattered around the world. None of us reads or speaks Russian, but now thanks to Google-Translate and the amazing sources you have listed, I can start making headway.

    I will continue to follow your posts and greatly appreciate your support in this endeavor. I’m now 76 and think that it’s up to me and my generation to do this for our children and grandchildren.

    Many, many thanks,

    Vera Alexeynova (?) Annenkov Marks Moore Eugene, Oregon USA

    On Sun, Sep 20, 2020 at 4:52 AM Find Lost Russian & Ukrainian Family wrote:

    > > > > > > > Vera Miller posted: “A lot more Russian genealogy documents are sitting > online waiting to be discovered than can be imagined. > > > > Russian State Public Historical Library, the country’s largest scientific > library specialized in history, keeps busy by posting scanned old books a” > > > >

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Russian State Public Historical Library offers amazing free genealogy document scans — Find Lost Russian & Ukrainian Family | Ups Downs Family History

  3. Hi Vera, According to my grandfather and some documentation, my grandmother was in the noble class. When I search surnames, I can’t find anything for the name Mosolov. Nothing comes up on the Russian State Public Historical Library. I have a hard time finding anything on Mosolov, noble or not…yet it is not an uncommon name. (Except for the cosmonaut and the composer) My great grandfather was named Vladimir Petrovich Mosolov.


    1. Hi Susan, Here is what I found in Russian using Google Translate- I hope the link works. Only people in a noble family who had certain accomplishments will be noted online. It will take researching birth records on your ancestors first to find your great-grandfather’s nobility record in the big Russian archives. You can join my Facebook genealogy group for more suggestions here- I hope this helps. Good luck!


  4. Micki Potchinsky

    I am researching Russian ancestors who are now because of historical changes in Belarus and Lithuania. will this website help?
    also saw you click above link for translation. will this come up on my laptop as well?


      1. Micki Potcinsky

        both maternal grandparents emigrated from Russia 1900 and 1902. my grandfather was married before my grandmother and story is his 1st wife was a cousin. I am trying to find her name and
        parents so I can find how related.


      2. Micki Potchinsky

        I have info for my own grandparents. It is his lst wife (supposedly a cousin) who died in Russia I am trying to find info on.


      3. You will need to know your grandfather’s birthplace to see whether he married the first wife in or near his birthplace. Since you don’t have any information on her, that would be the best place to start.


  5. Pingback: This week’s crème de la crème — September 26, 2020 | Genealogy à la carte

  6. What a fantastic blog this is! Full of so many resources and aids. I don’t have any Russian or Ukrainian ancestry that I know of yet but have saved it in case I need it in future. Thanks for sharing so generously all your great finds.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Friday's Family History Finds | Empty Branches on the Family Tree

  8. Pingback: Российская Государственная публичная историческая библиотека предлагает удивительные бесплатные сканы генеалогических документов-найт

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