Getting a marriage record from Ukrainian archives gives a surprising eye-opening view

I have been determined to get the marriage record of my paternal great-grandparents from an eastern Ukrainian archive office.

My journey was put on hold in 2013 for the 1890 record when the archives told me that the record was still in the registry office, which was only supposed to have records from the past 75 years. Records sitting in the registry offices are not available for public view with simple record requests.

Eight years ago, I found a researcher willing to help me with my situation. He also told me that the record was sitting at the registry office. I didn’t have the money to collect all my documents to prove ancestry to my great-grandparents and have those records translated to Ukrainian to get an official extraction of information.

For $100 the researcher could only get me an unofficial extraction of information from the marriage record. It came in the form of two computer screenshots but there wasn’t any new information. I felt ripped off for $100. I just wanted to see the actual record.

My stubbornness led me to try the Consulate General of Ukraine in New York to obtain a copy of the record a few months later. I collected all possible family documents to prove my relationship to my great-grandparents.

For the $75 I was charged, I got a newly minted and sealed document for the marriage of my great-grandparents. Still not the original marriage record I was determined to see from the church book.

Since then, I distracted myself with record searches that had higher chances of success. I finally had enough of this waiting game last month for obtaining a scan of this coveted marriage record.

This time, I came armed with a document created by Maria Golik, making my request formal and guaranteeing payment for services.

(Download this document to submit requests for record scans from Ukrainian archives. All text in bold needs to be replaced with the suggested text. Copy and paste the document text into Google Translate for Russian translation and then copy the Russian text for Ukrainian translation. Google Translate works better this way for Ukrainian. Make sure the request documents sent to archives are signed in cursive.)

The day after I submitted my  request using the above document, the archives accepted my request. A month later, the archives confirmed the record is FINALLY sitting in archives and available to be seen by my eager eyes in scanned form.

The bill was 47 hryvnia ($1.69 USA/2.14 Canadian/1.40 Euro), the equivalent of a cup of coffee on a Kyiv street. But paying the bill was not simple. Western Union was not accepting the bank account information to send the money.

So my second cousin in Kyiv came to the rescue. A unpaid bill equal to a cup of coffee was not going to make this a never-ending journey.

I sent the archives the receipt for payment from my cousin.  Ten days later, I finally saw the scan of my great-grandparents’ marriage. I was hoping to see my great-grandmother’s parents’ names and relatives of my great-grandparents as witnesses.

But that didn’t happen. As witnesses, I got a motley crew of a telegraph worker, soldier, merchant and some honorary citizen, none of whom can be identified as relatives. It’s as if my great-grandparents asked random people on the street to be witnesses a few days before their wedding. In addition, the record doesn’t have a word on the parents of my great-grandparents.

The biggest surprise was that the number associated with the request from the Consulate General of Ukraine was noted on the marriage record. It looked creepy as if the former Soviet Ukraine tracks people who request records. But that notation just proves the request was properly documented.

All of this was for one marriage record. This was quite the learning experience. Now, I have gained valuable knowledge in dealing with Ukrainian archives and a better understanding about how these records are managed in Ukraine. Let the next Ukrainian journey be more brief and enjoyable, please.

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