Russia Beginning Research
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Начало поиска русских корней
This article is intended to provide the background needed to pursue an ancestry that extends back into the Russian Empire. Whether the person searching for their Russian ancestry does the work or has it done, he needs to have a basic understanding of what sources exist and where they are found in order to obtain and evaluate the information. We will look at the historical administrative environment, the archival environment, and the sources.
Эта статья рассатривает основы, необходимые для поиска предков, проживавших в прежней Российской Империи. Каждый кто ищет свои российские корни, должен иметь представление о видах существующих источников информации, и о том, где они находятся. Мы рассмотрим историко-административное деление, архивное деление и существующие источники информации.
- 1 Localities Местности
- 2 Gazetteers Географический справочник
- 3 Research Поиск
- 4 Sources
- 4.1 Parish Registers or Metrical Books (metriki)
- 4.2 Revision Lists/Family Lists (revizskiye skazki/posemeinye spiski)
- 4.3 Civil Registration (akty grazhdanskovo sostoianiye)
- 4.4 1897 Census (perepis 1897)
- 4.5 Lineage Books (rodoslovnye knigi)
- 4.6 Resident Books (obyvalet'skiye/domovye knigi)
- 4.7 Directories
There are several geographic terms by which the records are organized because they represent the jurisdictions administered by government agencies. Click here for geographic terminology and to learn about various Russian jusrisdictions.
Often, the records of several modem provinces are found in the archive of a single province, whose capital happened to have been the capital of an imperial province.
Borders fluctuated greatly along the western edge of the Russian Empire. Click here for the table that identifies some of the more significant changes.
Существуют различные географические термины, по которым созданы записи, поскольку они отражают установленное государством административное деление. Здесь (ссылка в английском тексте) вы сможете увидеть терминалогию местностей и познакомиться с различными российскими делениями.
Gazetteers Географический справочник
Small localities like villages belong to larger administrative units or jurisdictions, which in turn belong to other larger jurisdictions. Among other things, gazetteers generally identify such jurisdictions and help us to localize places and often to distinguish between places with the same name.
There are several basic gazetteers that provided place name and jurisdictional information to make sense of these localities. To learn about them, see Gazetteers.
There are other gazeteers specific only to a certain region. Choose from the list below to find out more about what gazetter could be hlpful in your research.
- Baltic States
- Western Ukraine
Небольшие населенные пункты, такие как деревни, принадлежат к другим, более крупным административным единицам. Между прочим, существующие справочники как правило определяют принадлежность этих населенных пунктов и помогают нам локализовать места и зачастую различить места со схожими наименованиями.
Существует несколько основных справочников с указанием наименования населенного пункта и его административной принадлежности. Вы можете узнать об этом по ссылке "Gazetteers" (в английском тексте).
Существуют также другие справочники, специфичные только для определенной местности. Из нижеприведенного списка вы можете найти такие справочники, которые могут пригодиться в Вашем поиске:
- Западная Украина
The collection of the Family History Library is rapidly increasing for the area once comprised by the Russian Empire.
To research the microfilms, one needs to know some Russian. Other major languages of the records are Polish, German and Latin. With the assistance of gazetteers and other locality aids, one needs to determine the standard spelling of place names, determine the correct place if there are locations with the same name, and learn the intermediate jurisdiction. Once a filmed locality is identified in the catalog, a film can be retrieved from the collection.
The researcher can write to a Russian archive requesting information. A directory of archival addresses for all nations including Russia was published in 1992 by the International Council of Archives in volume 38 of Archivum. However, most archives are not staffed to do research for clients and only a few do it. The are limited reference aids and indices to help them find the records. The more provincial areas cannot read English and do not have copy machines.
Research can be conducted personally in the archives but the degree of success will depend largely on making prior arrangements so that the archive knows a researcher in coming. Even then access may be restricted by the disposition or mood of the archivist. Travel conditions and facilities are primitive in many areas-usually worse the further east one goes. Researchers are advised to hire a local guide/interpreter if they do not have native language skill. Research services may be available.
The two primary sources for pre-revolutionary genealogy in Russia are parish registers (more precisely, parish register transcripts) and revision lists (poll tax census). In both cases the annual returns for a particular region were often bound together no matter how many folios existed for that region, creating volumes three and four feet thick at times.
Parish Registers or Metrical Books (metriki)
The majority of these begin in the middle 18th century. Normally, two copies were made, one (a transcript) sent annually to a central ecclesiastical or civil office. The transcript is the copy most likely to have survived the civil disruptions of Russia's past. Metriki consist of forms filled out annually, filed, and then bound into books. Over time they were filed in any order imaginable. There are gaps in the years indicating that some materials were lost or misplaced. Quite often the records of churches in a district for a single year are bound in the same volume.
- Russian Orthodox Church Records Click here to learn more.
- Greek Catholic (Uniate) Church Records Click here to learn more.
- Roman Catholic Church Records Click here to learn more.
- Lutheran (Evangelical) Church Records Click here to learn more.
- Old Believer Church Records Click here to learn more.
- Baptist Church Record Click here to learn more.
- Muslim Records Click here to learn more.
- Jewish Records Click here to learn more.
Revision Lists/Family Lists (revizskiye skazki/posemeinye spiski)
Revision lists are of equal if not greater value than metriki. They identify family groups and residence. They are actually the best place to begin research. Revision lists were kept between 1719-1858 to support a national poll tax. Click here for the list of revisions taken.
Civil Registration (akty grazhdanskovo sostoianiye)
Civil registration was instituted after the Revolution and established in the cities by 1919, then later in rural localities. Gaps in registration persisted until 1926. Civil registration offices - ZAGS - often have parish registers back to the beginning of the century to supplement the civil registration. These are normally the local copy of the parish register. Under Russian administration, these books are supposed to be transferred to regional archives after 75 years. Click here to read more about civil registration.
1897 Census (perepis 1897)
The 1897 census was the only universal census in tsarist Russia. The census tabulated information on name, age, sex, relationship, social class, occupation, religion, native tongue, literacy, birthplace, military status, and disabilities. A second copy was made and both copies were forwarded to the provincial census commission. One of these was kept by that commission and the other sent to the Central Census Bureau in St. Petersburg. The St. Petersburg copy is no longer extant but the local copy has survived in some district archives. Click here to read more about this census.
Lineage Books (rodoslovnye knigi)
The gentry nobility assembly compiled these books to confirm hereditary status as nobility. Click here to read more.
Resident Books (obyvalet'skiye/domovye knigi)
The population was registered at the place of residence. The books identify head of household, family members, ages, religion, occupation, address and former address. Click here to read more.
Published directories may be helpful. Click here to read more.
Hopefully, this basic information provides the background needed to begin Russian research. There are many record peculiarities and possible research strategies. Avotaynu provides many case studies of those who have succeeded in doing their Russian research which have broader application for all researchers. There is an increasing amount of research assistance and sources on the internet.