Database of 6 million Russian documents and photos reveal amazing details of life

Gems of documents and photos are scattered across the Internet. It’s priceless when those gems land in a user-friendly database.

The Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation has posted millions of photos and documents that complete the picture of life in the USSR. The database doesn’t involve any registration nor fees.

The variety of subjects covered by the photos and documents is just stunning. I have seen photos of collective farms, school students, old churches, WWI and WWII military documents and even 1905 revolutionary activists. The documents also have a similar wide span of subjects.

A large focus of the database is the arts of Russia- writers, composers, artists and performers. Anyone who had ancestors or relatives who worked in the arts from the USSR is highly encouraged to take advantage of this database.

The database has a simple search engine, making it less intimidating for non-Russian speakers. Before checking out the database, it is highly recommended to download the Google Translate web browser app or a similar app to view the database in English.

Click here to view a video guide on how to use this database.

Here’s how to use the database without knowing Russian:

  1. Make a list of keywords in a word processing document or similar document.
  2. Copy them into Google Translate for translation.
  3. Start the search of photos here and the search of documents here. Make sure to paste the keywords in Russian into the long search box on the top.
  4. Remember to take a screenshot of each document and photo of interest. (The scans get  slightly larger on my PC when the zoom is reduced to 75%.) Sadly, the scans can’t be downloaded or saved normally  like other databases.
  5. Copy all the details provided on the documents and photos.
  6. If nothing is found on people being search, change the search to hometowns or something less specific to see what else is available. Being too specific can be a disadvantage in these types of searches.
  7. Don’t be shy about contacting museums that hold the documents of similar interest. Click the link under location (Местонахождение in Russian) on the right bottom of the scans and the contact information for the museum will appear. Maybe the museum has more photos and documents that aren’t in the database.

Hopefully, trying out this database has helped in getting more comfortable with Russian databases. So much is available online in Russian genealogy for those willing to use web browser translators and make an extra effort. My genealogy successes happen because I moved onto Russian and Ukrainian-language searching.

Remember to follow this blog with the top right button to catch posts on new databases, importance resources and guides on making Russian and Ukrainian genealogy more successful.

Related posts:
Secrets of searching the Internet in Russian and Ukrainian like a native speaker
The cure for fearing Russian-language genealogy websites to make breakthroughs
Expert guide to using Google Translate in Russian and Ukrainian genealogy
Photo database of more than 20,000 Russian churches brings new life to genealogy
Russian State Public Historical Library offers amazing free genealogy document scans