Photo database of more than 20,000 Russian churches brings new life to genealogy

The tragic history of destroying churches in Russia cannot be forgotten. Thankfully, volunteers in Russia are photographing the churches still standing throughout the massive country.

So far, the Temples of Russia project has more than 26,000 photos of Russian Orthodox and Old Believers churches and chapels in its database. The amazing database has churches that are functioning, closed and forgotten. Photos were even added today.

Thanks to this database, I have seen four churches of my ancestors. The value of these photos are priceless. The ability to imagine my ancestors entering the churches for christenings, weddings, funerals or regular services is just beyond what I imagined could be possible when I started working on my family tree.

In addition to the photos, churches and chapels are listed with historical information, descriptions, locations by coordinates, current statuses, addresses and available websites.

The Temples of Russia project has a search engine and listing of all churches and chapels included in the database. Monasteries also are included in the photo database here.

Naturally, the database is in Russian. I have a video guide on how to use this database here without knowing Russian.

The photos of Russian churches are listed under the regions and republics of Russia on this page.

Here’s some tips on how to take advantage of this database.

  1. As with any Russian database, I recommend using a desktop or laptop computer and downloading Google Translate’s web browser app or any comparable app to maneuver around the website easier in English.
  2. Make sure to research the birthplaces of ancestors. The region (oblast) and district (rayon) should be known.
  3. Don’t assume churches were located in the family villages so check photos listed for villages and towns near your relatives’ and ancestors’ birthplaces.
  4. It is helpful to look through all old family photos to check for any photos that could include Russian churches.
  5. Even check old family letters to see whether family churches were mentioned.
  6. Make sure to review all family documents to see whether any church records are hiding among family archives.
  7. Copy and paste all the information into documents on churches that are found and download the photos.
  8. If nothing is found, check for the newest additions here. The database is regularly updated.
  9. Take a look at the forum for any helpful information. The forum isn’t active anymore but worth a look.

Don’t give up if nothing is found today. Remember to bookmark this database. It  has been growing online for more than 20 years. Checking this database is so much easier than trying to search for photos on Google for specific family churches.

Remember to follow this blog with the top right button to catch posts on important databases for research in Russian and Ukrainian genealogy.

Related posts:

Expert guide to using Google Translate in Russian and Ukrainian genealogy
The cure for fearing Russian-language genealogy websites to make breakthroughs
Secrets of searching the Internet in Russian and Ukrainian like a native speaker
10 Mythbusters for making breakthroughs in Russian genealogy
Guide to Using the Best & Largest Russian Language Genealogy Forum (with a video guide)

13 thoughts on “Photo database of more than 20,000 Russian churches brings new life to genealogy

  1. Pingback: Photo database of more than 20,000 Russian churches brings new life to genealogy — Find Lost Russian & Ukrainian Family | Ups Downs Family History

  2. Pingback: This week's crème de la crème - November 14, 2020 - Genealogy à la carteGenealogy à la carte

    1. Thank you for following my blog. Please tell me what you know on the ancestors/relatives. I will try to send you in the right direction. My grandmother’s brother immigrated to Argentina so I know the Russian speaking population also found home in warm South America,


      1. teresina147

        Thank you Vera , I am very happy you wrote back to me, the info I have is
        Sergio stanichevsky , born in melitopol, September 12, 1902
        Died in asuncion paraguay April 15, 1977
        Lived in Paris before arriving to Argentina in the 30’s?
        But all we searched does not make sense .
        We were told he had a sister back in Russia , name Olga , a lawyer?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I would recommend working backwards- death record, marriage record and then get his immigration records from Paraguay. He likely applied for citizenship. Which papers do you already have on him?


  3. Pingback: Fotodatenbank von 20.000 russisch-orthodoxen Kirchen • Verein für Computergenealogie e.V. (CompGen)

  4. Lora petrie

    I am good friends and caregiver for a woman who was an Ostarbeiter in Germany, from approximately age 16 to 20 or 21. She survived the war, and married an American soldier, then came to live in America. According to his family, she used to tell dozens of stories of what happened to her in Germany. But now, because of dementia, her stories are only fragments. Well worn memories from one story seems to have bled through images from another time. I would like to better understand what she has survived because her personality is wonderfully resilient and outgoing.

    Can you recommend English translated history of how I might learn more about what happened to the young women she may have typified? How their families dealt with their loss of them, and how they may have survived after escaping their captors?


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