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“Genealogy and the War in Ukraine” by Vera Ivanova Miller

“Genealogy and the War in Ukraine”by Vera Ivanova Miller

The Russian war in Ukraine has caused much worry about the loss of archival records. A small portion of records were scanned before the war started in February.

Soon after the war began in February, staff from FamilySearch International stopped scanning Ukrainian archive records. Their work only had started in late spring 2021.

Meanwhile Ukrainian archives increased their own scanning efforts soon after the invasion. In the midst of the invasion, staff at Kyiv Regional Archives began scanning thousands of records and posting them online. Those records have included metric book and Ostrabeiter records.

Other archive offices have been doing the same to ensure the availability of archive records for future generations. The list of records scanned by Ukrainian archives is growing monthly: metric books of the Kyiv Spiritual Consistory, Roman Catholic church books of Lviv, repression files of Volyn Region, and nobility records from Zhytomyr Region.

As soon as the situation in Ukraine became safer, FamilySearch International returned to scanning in the safer areas during the spring. So far, 3 central archives and 10 regional archives have signed agreements to allow FamilySearch International to scan their records. Metric books from the 18th century to the early 20th century are being scanned, in addition to other records with genealogical information.

FamilySearch International is regularly posting updates on its website HERE.

Not only has FamilySearch been active in scanning Ukrainian archives record, so has Alex Krakovsky–even during the war. He has posted at least 3-4 million scans HERE since 2017. Krakovsky, a Jewish Ukrainian living in the USA, fought successfully for the right to scan archival records in the Ukrainian court system. The latest record scans are announced on his FACEBOOK PAGE.

Other newly scanned Ukrainian archive records that can be found online include Holocaust records. The State Archive Service of Ukraine just announced the release of 1 million scans. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum are scanning these records, and the first batch was posted HERE on a searchable database. Ukrainian archive officials estimate they possess about 10 million pages of Holocaust-related records.

Scans of Ukrainian archives are posted on various archive websites but that is expected to change in the near future.

A portal for scanned archive records was introduced in May HERE. So far, 1.5 million scans of archive records have been posted to the portal, but none of them are genealogy-related. It will take time to move genealogy-related records onto the portal.

“We did not abandon our plans, and today, in real time, to millions of users around the world, even in wartime, we can present a pilot version of an important resource that simplifies the lives of archivists and users,” announced Anatoly Khromov, director of State Archives Service of Ukraine. 

Sadly, Ukrainian archives also announced the Soviet-era persecution records located in Chernihiv were destroyed in a war-related fire. It is believed that Russia relocated the archive records from the Crimea and regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Khromov plans to address the return of the relocated archive records after the country wins the war against Russia, according to an announcement in May.

While reacquiring those records will take time, Ukrainian archives are moving along by digitizing records and answering information requests, so that the journey in Ukrainian genealogy continues for the curious folks

N.B. Vera Ivanova Miller is the author of the popular titles in our “Genealogy at a Glance” series covering Ukraine and Russia.  

Researchers hunting for Eastern European ancestors should also consider the German and Polish titles in the “Genealogy at a Glance” series owing to numerous boundary changes that have occurred in Germany and Eastern Europe since the 19th century.

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