Newly published genealogy guide will help get a better hold on Russian genealogy

You are reading the 300th blog post for Find Lost Russian & Ukrainian Family. It took almost 10 years.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have the best advice, information and websites for Russian genealogy research from this blog in a convenient form? If that is your wish, it has come true.

I am excited to announce that leading and oldest publisher of genealogy books in the USA, Genealogical Publishing Co., has published “Genealogy at a Glance: Russian Genealogy Research”($9.95 U.S. dollars and U.S. shipping). It can be purchased through here.

Click here to view a video about the genealogy guide.

Back in August, the company approached me to write the guide on Russian genealogy. I almost said no but changed my mind when I realized that the genealogy market is lacking on informational guides for Russian genealogy.

My journey into Russian genealogy started 11 years ago and I had to learn everything on my own. I have looked for years for books and guides that could help me. Instead, I used my basic Russian language knowledge from my childhood to maneuver around Russian genealogy websites and connect with Russian-speakers on the same journey.

After learning incredible and invaluable information on Russian genealogy and revealing that information in “Genealogy at a Glance: Russian Genealogy Research”, others on the same journey will have the information and confidence needed to take on Russian genealogy.

Three months of thinking, researching and writing went into the guide. Topics such as Russian names, conversion to the Gregorian calendar, locating Russian ancestral places, metric books, censuses, archives, Russian consular records, online databases (not the ones listed everywhere else), the Russian alphabet and more complete the guide to Russian genealogy.

So far, I am aware of one review by Linda Stufflebean of Empty Branches of the Family Tree. Read her praises of the guide here. (Other bloggers and writers can obtain review copies of the guide by contacting Joe Garonzik.)

The guide is perfect as presents, additions to reference rooms of genealogical organizations and merchandise for in-person genealogy workshops and conventions.

I’m awaiting to hear when the genealogy guide will be made available on, which will ship the guide to the USA and abroad. Follow this blog with the top right button to learn about the big news. The publisher only ships within the USA.

Help me spread the news about the genealogy guide by sharing this post on Facebook, Twitter and other social media. Don’t forget to check out the amazing selection of professional genealogy publications on Genealogical Publishing.

Thank you to each person who purchases the Russian genealogy guide. I hope it leads readers to some great genealogy success stories!

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.

Remember to follow this blog with the top right button to catch informative posts on Ukrainian and Russian genealogy and news on important databases for researching relatives and ancestors from the former USSR.

Related posts:
Expert guide to using Google Translate in Russian and Ukrainian genealogy
Secrets of searching the Internet in Russian and Ukrainian like a native speaker
Guide to finding the mystery family villages of Russia and Ukraine
Guide for spelling Russian and Ukrainian names to break those solid brickwalls

Millions of free scanned church records from Moscow posted online

Central State Archives of the City of Moscow has unloaded more than 3.3 million scanned pages of church records, dated from 1750-1934.

The best part of this new resource, My Family, is that registration and payment are not required to view these scans.

But I know so many readers will say, “but I can’t read Russian cursive”.

Well, keep on reading to learn how to read enough to find some records. Once, you follow these steps for My Family, the same steps can be taken to look at  similar Russian church records online. Links to a video guide and a cheat sheet guide are also below these steps to improve success with your searches.

Here are the steps to search for records in this resource:

  1. Please download the Goggle Translate web browser onto your laptop or desktop computer first.
  2. Translate the full names of relatives and ancestors on Google Translate or here.
  3. Copy and paste the translated names into a word processing document.
  4. Go to to switch the names into cursive. Just copy and paste each name into the box at the bottom and the name in cursive will appear below.
  5.  Copy the cursive writing from by handwriting the first and last names of each person you are searching in these records. The script doesn’t have to be perfect because church records can be sloppy.
  6. Make sure you know at least the month and year the person was born when searching for birth records. Otherwise, the search will take very long.
  7. Remember to check for birth records two weeks before the actual date that was celebrated in the country where the relative or ancestor lived outside of Russia and Ukraine. My grandfather’s birthday was celebrated in the USA on March 21 but his birth record lists his birthdate as March 8. This difference is because the Russian Empire adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1918. This website will help get the correct dates from the two calendars.
  8. Church books are broken apart by having birth records in the first section, next are marriages and then deaths.
  9. Remember to save each possible record on your family or ancestors. Pages from the church books can be saved with right-clicking.
  10. Many genealogy groups on Facebook exist that could help translate the records you find. It is much better to ask for help in Facebook groups to transcribe the records in Russian and translate the records into English. It will help to learn how to read these records independently.
  11. Remember to download this FLRUF cheatsheet. It lists words in Russian cursive found in church records, with the words also in English.

Now, it’s time to view my video guide on this website. The guide clearly shows how to look at the records to find potential records on relatives and ancestors.

So many more Russian church records are posted online. Once the video is viewed and the cheat sheet is used to help find records on My Family, try looking at other websites with Russian church records. You may find records on your relatives and ancestors that you never expected to find online.

Remember to follow this blog with the top right bottom to catch posts on new databases and resources for Russian and Ukrainian genealogy.

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


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


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)