Odessa archive

The post about archive in Odessa was prompted by a number of articles I have found on internet, which gave an interesting overview of the archive.

State Archive of Odessa region (Державний архів Одеської області), and to which I will refer in the post as Odessa archive, was formed in March 1920 as the Odessa Historical Archive.  The main function of archive was and is the collection and preservation of archival documents on the territory of Odessa and the Odessa province.  The archive began its work with only 22 funds received from various organizations, institutions, businesses, churches, which ceased the activities after the October Revolution.   By 1940 the archive had more than 4,400 funds.

Since the beginning of the World War II and the Romanian occupation of Odessa in 1941, a significant part of the material was evacuated to Stalingrad and then to the West-Kazakhstan region. Remaining in Odessa archival materials have been looted and lost.  It is estimated that during this period more than 50% of the Odessa archive’s documents were lost. The old newspaper of 1942 wrote about the fact that archival funds’ documents were brought to Odessa bazaars by wheelbarrow, used as a wrapping paper or sold 1 mark per kilogram. [1]

Whatever remained from pre-war period is held today at the archive. Last year the archive undertook a project of publishing an on-line annotated listing of all inventories (in Ukrainian).


As of 29 November 2013 the Odessa archive digitized 118,000 files (or 8,000 funds) from Soviet times, 57,145 files of Communist Party archives (more than 4,500 funds) and 82,648 files of cards from scientific reference system. [2]

What can be found in depths of Odessa archive:

  • documents of the Office of Novorossiysk and Bessarabian Governor-General – Fund 1 (1803-1874)
  • documents of Office of the Mayor of Odessa – Fund 2 –various periods between 1802- 1917.  This fund also includes inventories 8, 9 and 10, which cover the 1897 Census, but only for houses and summer residences of city of Odessa (conducted on 28 January 1897).   To perform the search, you need to know the exact address, where your ancestor lived at that point of time.
  • Funds for Office of the Chief of Police, the prosecutor of the District Court of Odessa, Balta District Court, the Odessa District Council and Odessa customs
  • Documents in relation to Odessa City military conscription – fund 315 (1884-1919)
  • records of Richelieu Lyceum  – fund 44 (1817-1865)
  • records of Novorossiysk University– fund 48 (1865-1920)
  • Funds of personal origin
  • Address-calendars for Novorossіysk territory and Odessa (1857-1917)
  • 25 folders of newspaper “Odessa News” for period 1901-1919

On 28 January 2010 the Odessa archive shared with the internet newspaper “Timer” some of the finds located in Odessa archive. [3]

  • the autograph of Pushkin – “a banal signature on receipt of the travel documents, but your breath is taken away when looking at it”.
  • Metric birth record of Anna Gorenko – “who do not know, is the future poet Anna Akhmatova …”
  • Polish diploma of the sixteenth century
  • an autograph of Catherine the Great
  • drawings of architects Fellner and Gelmer who built the famous Odessa Opera House
  • Binder of old Odessa newspapers, where the most interesting news are the chronicle of criminal events.  The article probably refers to “Odessa News” noted above.

 And, of course, metrical registers of Odessa synagogues and churches.  The oldest being 1794, i.e. since the founding of Odessa.

Original settlers of Odessa were Greeks, Italians, Albanians, Armenians. According to the 1897 census, 124,000 Jewish people or 30.5% of total population lived in Odessa. The most numerous ethnic group in Odessa was Russian (49% of the population at the end of XIX century).  In 1926, there were 39.2% Russians, 36.9% Jews, 17.7% Ukrainians, 2.4% of Poles and others living in Odessa.[4]

Orthodox religion

The Orthodox records are covered by Kherson Spiritual Consistory (духовная консистория – in the Russian Orthodox Church, the body of church administration at the diocesan bishop (1774-1918).) – fund 37 (1776-1919) including divorce cases, admission to meschanin levels (petty bourgeoisie), transition from other religions into Orthodoxy, metrical books of Novorossiysk territory.  I believe this fund is digitized and can be accessed at the archive or on request.

Greeks of Odessa

In 2011, Odessa archives completed the project in the form of the book «Greeks of Odessa. Family listings based on metrical books of Odessa Greek Holy-Troitskaya Church, 1799-1920) which consists of 6 parts.

As a result, the alphabetical name index (Parts 1-6) include the names of 23,252  parishioners, mostly Greeks, as well as representatives of other religions and nationalities – Bulgarians, Russian, Ukrainians, Moldavians, Poles, Italians, Germans, Gypsies and others, who took part in church ceremonies (baptism, marriages, funerals).

Part IV (1875-1891) book is publicly available on internet and the search can be easily performed for your ancestors.

Jews of Odessa

Vital records for Jewish population in Odessa are covered by fund  #39 “Odessa city rabbinate” for the period 1795-1920.  Some of the records can be found in Odessa KehilaLink on jewishgen.org.

As mentioned before Russian genealogical website “Jewish Roots” (refer link) created two databases – “Stone archive” (covers Odessa cemeteries) and “Archival references” (covers records from Odessa archive). You need to have a login to access this databases to perform the search for your ancestors. “Archival references” for Odessa archive include funds #1,2,305,45,52, 315 and many more. So far this database proved to be a great genealogical tool.

The Odessa archive requests

If you live in Odessa or have travelled to Odessa, then you can work for free at the premises of the archive.

If you are not so lucky, you can still get the information you need, subject to availability of the documents.  In this case, a request letter to the archive will do the work.  You have to be very specific when requesting the information.  Archives are not in a position to perform a research based on “I think”, “I guess”, “I believe “or from family legends and may reject your request. You have to back up your request with some vital/immigration/official records.

The Odessa archive also published a price list for the services on its website.

The director of Odessa archive, Ivan Nitochko notes that Odessa archive does not have enough resources to perform a full genealogical research for your family. “We have no time to create a family tree. But we do the biographical notes. If you want to know something about a particular person, it is possible to make such a request. ” [5]

Odessa archive buildingodessa archive

Odessa archive is located in the building of the former Brody Synagogue, one of the most beautiful in the city. However, due to disregard by the government, the building is in critical situation – the plaster outside of the building is falling off, rusty turrets and rotten frames are only little problems compare to problems which await you inside.

For many years the structure of the building is in emergency state. However, people continue to work in it, despite all the dangers associated with the condition of the building.  Since the summer of 2013 the question of transition of priceless documents on the history of Odessa and Southern Ukraine into the new building is being solved at the ministerial level.[6]

Additional information

I want to bring to your attention the fact that Tsarskoe Selo internet library has many reference books for Odessa (in Russian):

  • Novorossiyskiy calendar for 1849
  • 1899-1902, 1905-1908,1910-1912, 1914, 1924-1926, 1930 “All Odessa” address books (some of these books are loaded to Odessa Kehilalink in www.jewishgen.org)
  • 1912-1916 Handbook of the merchants of the 1st and 2nd guild who received the merchant and commercial business permissions in the city of Odessa.
  • All Commerce and Industry in Odessa, address and reference book for 1914.


A very interesting article about the first Jews in Odessa.


The author of this article is Oleg Gubar’- an authority on history of Jews in Odessa.  He has published a book called “Odessa Memories (2004) and a new book came out in December 2013 “Essays on early history of Jews of Odessa” and this article of course. As part of his research, the Odessa archive’s funds  have been reviewed thoroughly and the list of first Jews and their families and professions have been established.

Found anyone related in the article (it is in Russian)?


Do you need help with learning the Russian version of your ancestor’s surname or with any aspect of researching your ancestors in Odessa, please contact me. Happy to help.

Sources (recommend to go to links and view photos about Odessa archive) :

[1] http://Ru.wikipedia.org

[2] http://o1.ua/news/odesskiy-arhiv-v-elektronnom.html

[3] http://timer.od.ua/?p=56033

[4] http://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%CE%E4%E5%F1%F1%E0

[5] http://vesti.ua/odessa/29255-v-odesskom-arhive-nashli-predkov-vitorgana-i-obretajut-semi

[6] http://grad.ua/archives/34279

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