So many church records are posted online but those searching for Russian birth, marriage and death records always don’t get lucky to find them online.
Millions of birth, marriage and death records are sitting in Russian regional archives that could bring about happy dances but too many people are afraid to contact Russian archives.
Obtaining records from Russian archives isn’t as painful as learning the Waltz but the right steps are needed to get the records.
The most important step is to know the full name, village/town/city of birth, birth year and religion of the relatives or ancestors. It is very helpful to know the parents’ names, if possible.
Those who had relatives and ancestors who came to the USA and don’t know this information should read and follow through this post first.
Having all possible identifying information confirmed is the most important step. Once all the information is collected, getting the prized records is simple as following these steps:
- Determine the region where the ancestor lived in Russia. Search Wikipedia for the location. If there are several locations throughout Russia, check Google Maps to confirm the correct region.
- A very thorough list of the archives can be found in ENGLISH here. Try steps 3 and 4 if the link doesn’t include the needed archives.
- Once the region is known, write the region state archives into free Google Translate, for example Kursk State Archives. Copy the Russian text from Google Translate and then paste the text to search on Google.
- If Russian is unknown, make sure your browser has a translator app. Here’s an app from Google. Chrome users can download the application for their browser here. The text results of a search and webpage text also can be copied and pasted into Google Translate.
- Once the e-mail address is found for the archives, write the e-mail message into Google translate in simple English. Here is example message: Good morning! I am researching my great-grandfather Nikolai Ivanov. He was born in village Ivanovskoye in 1897. His family was Russian Orthodox. Would it be possible to search for his birth record? What would be the charge and how can payment be sent for the search? Your help would be greatly appreciated. Sincerely, Your name
- The subject line of the e-mail message should not be anything similar to “request from USA”. It would best to use something similar to”birth record inquiry- surname” in Russian.
- A quick response from the archive could be sent to state that the request was received or it could take weeks to receive an answer.
- It is highly recommended to check regularly the spam/junk mailbox for messages from Russian archives. Due to the messages being written in a foreign language, those messages have a higher chance landing there.
- If the response is sent as text in an e-mail message, copy and paste the text into Google Translate. If the archive sends an attached letter in the format of .doc, .docx, .odf, .pdf, rtf or .txt, the file can be uploaded here for translation into English.
- Estimates for research fees will be quoted in the Russian dollar- ruble. Visit this website for converting rubles into your currency.
- Bills to Russian archives can be paid through Western Union, which allows money transfers to Russian bank accounts or Russian Western Union stores.
- No matter the results from the search, it is very important to send a polite thank you e-mail message for the archive’s work. More research may be needed later on at that archive so keep that relationship friendly.
This effort may seem like a lot to get records but it will be well worth it. Eight years ago, this is how I started out. Now, my family tree goes back to the 1600s from using researchers and Russian genealogy forums that have connected me with my distant cousins.
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