A dissertation. This is what James received as part of my preliminary research on his Russian ancestry. 9 pages on life and work of his great-grandfather Dmitriy B. in Russia.
When James asked me to help, all he knew was that his ancestor was “the chief civil engineer. He built the original Siberian railway for the pre-revolutionary government.”
WORK IN ARCHIVES
Russian State Historical archive in St Petersburg ( and not only this archive) has many funds on railroad engineers’ staff in pre-revolutionary Russia. I was able to locate the exact file on his ancestor. James decided not to go ahead with requesting this file. However, many other clients successfully received pretty big files with lots of personal information on their ancestors. Photographs in these files are a bonus!
WORK ON INTERNET
Then I decided to check what the internet had on James’s ancestor. You would assume that there will be a lot of information on “chief engineer”. Not the case. Then suddenly his surname with initials popped up in one research paper. Now I knew of his “whereabouts” and increased my search parameters. In Russian ancestry research, it is very important to know “where” exactly to search to get the best possible results. I included the names of people Dmitriy B. potentially worked with, places where he probably lived and worked. To my surprise, I have located the dissertation on a “chief engineer”.
It appears that the name of his great-grandfather was unfairly forgotten amongst the railroad engineers of pre-revolutionary Russia. Dmitriy B. completed the St Petersburg University of Railroad engineers of Aleksander I. In 1890 he became a railroad engineer. His first assignment was a Ussuriskiy railroad. After that, he gradually moved in ranks and became the leading engineer. For his achievements he was awarded 5 medals:
- For successful work on the construction of the Trans-Baikal Railway- on 18 April 1899 the Order of St. Stanislaus 3rd degree.
- Completion of Kaydalovskoy line (East China railway) -on 4 April 1902 the Order of St. Anna 3rd degree.
- For the successful execution of works on a line Barnaul – Ob and Barnaul – Pavlodar- on 6 May 1907 the Order of St Stanislaus 2nd degree.
- By this time the government highly appreciated the work of Dmitriy B. as a deputy Chief (East Amur railway). In 1912 he was awarded the Order of St Anna 2nd degree and in 1914 the order of St Vladimir 4th degree.
In January 2010 in Khabarovsk Aleksei L. (a student of the Far Eastern State University of Humanities in Khabarovsk) prepared his Ph. D. thesis on a “chief engineer” Dmitriy B.
For the thesis Aleksei travelled to St Petersburg. There he received a full access to the above mentioned personal file on Dmitriy B. As a result, the dissertation had most important information from the archives. This saved a lot of money for James.
WORK IN ARCHIVE AGAIN
Based on the information we had, I have suggested to James to write to Khabarovsk archives. There was a chance to locate files on his ancestor. To our further surprise, the archives connected James directly with Aleksei L., who is currently continuing the research on the life of Dmitriy B. after the Revolution. It happens.
The featured photo is kept in James’s family archives (and various internet sites) and was made on the day of the opening of Amur Bridge on 5 October 1916. In the middle in a uniform of railroad engineer stands Dmitriy B. – the leading engineer, responsible for the completion of the bridge at that time. His name included on a memorial plaque of the opening of the bridge (later destroyed in a Civil War).
For your interest a wonderful compilation of photos on the construction of railroads in Russia and opening of Amur Bridge.
Any questions or need help with the research in general, please get in touch.