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 Stevemorse.org 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 Stevemorse.org 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.

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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:
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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

 

New Soviet Era database releases free documents on more than 1 million citizens

The past of the former Soviet Union is coming alive in 2020 to the benefit of genealogy. A new database is displaying free documents on more than 1 million citizens of the former USSR.

For years, I have read books about the awards to Soviet citizens who worked their heart out for Soviet achievement goals and received awards for their hard work in agriculture and industry. Finally, a database with free scanned records has been posted online for those who received the awards from 1939 to 1990.

Exhibition of Achievements of the National Economy Fund and Library Archive has posted its scanned archives here and more scans are expected to be posted later this year.

The information provided in this database cannot be found anywhere else online. 

Here is a video on how to use this database without knowing Russsian.

The database can be searched by surname, given name, patronymic name (middle name derived from father’s first name), place of employment, region of the USSR where the award was received, type of award and date of award.

For those who don’t know Russian, here are simple instructions on how to use this database.

  1. Download Google Translate web browser app or a comparable app onto a desktop or laptop computer to view the website in English.
  2. Type the keywords in English on Google Translate, Yandex or here for a Russian translate.
  3.  For those not using a translating web browser app, copy and paste the keywords into Фамилия (surname); Имя (given name);  Отчество (patronymic name); Организация/Предприятие (organization/ enterprise); Регион (region where the award was received); Вид награды (type of award); Дата постановления с (resolutions starting from); and Дата постановления по (resolution date).
  4. Click on найти to start the search.
  5. The results will appear in a list. The information provided in the list will include full name, award and the date received, organization where the person worked, and region and district of the award presentation.
  6. Reduce the number of keywords if too few results appear or add keywords to reduce the number of results.  Remember town and region names change over time before eliminating a match.
  7. Once a link is clicked from the results page, the scanned documents will appear on the right.
  8. If a user wants to change the keywords from the results page, click on the red button уточнить (clarify) on top right and the keyword search page will appear.
  9.  Remember to download any scanned records that have potential in having information on relatives and ancestors. Plenty of Facebook genealogy groups are available to translate documents.

It is well worth searching every known surname that appears in your family tree and exhausting all keyword combinations before giving up. This is a simple website for building skills to understand how to use Russian language databases.

The potential in breaking down genealogy brickwalls is knowing how to use these databases. More information will come through the years. Be ready for the challenge when that breakthrough comes for you.

Remember to follow this blog with the top right button to catch the newest databases and latest updates for available databases.

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Expert guide to using Google Translate in Russian and Ukrainian genealogy

Database gives closure on anti-Polish terror victims of the USSR

Finding information on Polish relatives and ancestors hurt by the anti-Polish terror in the Soviet Union can take a lot of effort, but one website has made it as easy as a few clicks.

The Center for Polish-Russian Dialogue and Understanding and the Institute of National Remembrance created a portal to give closure to relatives of anti-Polish terror victims.

“Moscow Memorial Association says at least 139,835 people were repressed, of whom no less than 111,991 were shot in the back of the head and 28,774 were sentenced to stay in the labor camps,” according to the portal.

Sadly, Russia doesn’t want to release all records on the Polish terror victims but this portal is the most complete database online.

Here is how to use the portal for searching. Imię is first name; Nazwisko is surname;  Imię ojca is father’s first name; and Data urodzenia is birthdate (day/month/year).

Once the information is entered, click on wyszukaj to search the database. If results don’t appear, try different spellings and fewer search criteria.

For those who don’t know Polish, the portal also can be searched in Russian. Имя is first name; Фамилия is surname; Отчество is father’s first name; Дата рождения is birthdate (day/month/year); and поиск is the search button.

Anywho who doesn’t know Russian nor Polish can copy and paste the results into Google Translate to view them in English.

Once results are found, don’t be shy about searching for further information on Google in Russian or Polish to see whether more information is available.

Related posts:
Database of political terror victims in the USSR explodes past 3 million
Declassified file reveals relative’s full story on journey to the gulags
Secret files help complete the life story of five brothers

Declassified file reveals relative’s full story on journey to the gulags

So far, I’ve had a general idea about the experience of my grandmother’s first husband being sent to the gulag from family stories, books on the gulag and an extraction of information from the regional Office of the Federal Security Service.

A researcher who has been visiting archives in southern Russia told me so much more can be uncovered on his case since 75 years have passed. The researcher herself viewed her own relatives’ cases and was willing to do the same for me.

Nothing shocks me after what I have read about the gulag but the file read as if it came from Gulag: A History” by Anne Applebaum. The first husband of my grandmother, Vladimir, was arrested with his half-brother, Ivan, in 1932.

Here’s how the investigators got the husband’s confession:

Vladimir: I did not conduct anti-Soviet activities.
Ivan: My brother is hostile to the Soviets and, like me, conducted anti-Soviet agitation.
Vladimir: My brother is lying.
Ivan: Vladimir, I am your half-brother and I have confessed everything. I am your brother and cannot lie to you and you must confess everything.
Vladimir: Yes, now I plead guilty. I conducted anti-Soviet agitation. I was in a counter-revolutionary organization. Before, I gave false testimony, but now I will tell the truth.
Letters from abroad really came to me. In 1926, there was a letter from Bulgaria from a former white officer with the rank of ensign, Stefan Ivanovich Stublienko. He wrote that he lives badly, where his brother and father are missing.

The crimes of these brothers were being possession of 1,000 rubles of the gold currency from tsarist minting, expressing to acquaintances their intention to flee abroad and communicating through the postal mail to a foreign-living relative.

It didn’t help Vladimir that my grandmother didn’t support him, a typical situation during the Stalin era, when he was father of her two kids.

“I can hide the ends in the water. I have always secretly told my bank director, Vasiliy, about upcoming strikes, meetings among bank employees, and the latter was always warned about it in due time and, however, no one until this day knows anything about it,” my grandmother told investigators about an alleged conversation with her then ex-husband (who isn’t my grandfather).

For their crimes, the brothers were sentenced to three years at Lodeynoye Pole in St. Petersburg Region, one of the worst camps. Luckily, Vladimir was released a year early at age 56 after spending two years chopping trees down for firewood and other products. He made the hall of fame for productivity in the camp.

Then three years later, he was arrested again. This time, he confessed: “I carried on my counter-revolutionary activities more actively, spreading rumors about a quick war and the destruction of Soviet power.”

Vladimir also confessed that he expressed regret about the Soviet government killing of Chief of General Staff Mikhail Nikolayevich Tukhachevsky.

Those confessions cost Vladimir another 10 years of his life to a gulag in Siberia  near the border of China. He was forced to build the Baikal–Amur Mainline of the Trans-Siberian Railway. A year later, he wrote a letter, begging to review his case, but a confession was a confession.

Sadly, nothing in Vladimir’s file reveals whether he survived his last sentence. He would have been 68 years old if he served the full sentence.

My researcher contacted the Federal Penitentiary Service in Moscow for more information. The office responded only relatives who can prove ancestry with documents can receive the information. That means I can’t learn more about him until the law changes.

His story is not forgotten for his family. I found Sergey, a great-grandson of Vladimir and Ivan’s brother, Vasiliy, on social network ok.ru. Sergey is thrilled to learn the details of the cases and all the biographical information collected by the NKVD on his great-great-uncles.

Thanks to this project for the photo of the Lodeynoye Pole gulag.

Related posts:
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Database of political terror victims in the USSR explodes past 3 million