Your ancestor came from Russia and you have Russian ancestry. You decide to find any records about her/him on renowned and popular websites for discovering your family history by looking for birth certificates, marriage certificate and census records. You type English version of the surname found on immigration records. Few seconds later you realise that there is practically nothing.
The majority of Russian records can be found in Russian archives only. Few online projects (in Russian) emerge but vast amount of information is still saved on shelves in Russian archives.
Russian ancestry on ancestry.com records:
- Russia, Duma Voter Lists, 1906-1907
- Russian Empire, Grodno Gubernia Voters List, 1912
- Russia, Jewish Families in Russian Empire Census, 1897
- Russia, Select Births and Baptisms, 1755-1917 (in Russian)
- Russia, Select Deaths and Burials, 1815-1917 (in Russian)
- Russia, Select Marriages, 1793-1919 (in Russian)
Just to give you an insight into www.ancestry.com. This website and database was founded in America and is focused on United States and 9 other countries (as Wikipedia claims). It is perfect genealogical tool for people researching their American, Canadian, South African, English and Australian ancestry. There are many records for other countries but Russia remains mainly unavailable in terms of records due to many reasons.
The archives in Russia are not fully computerised. The progress is obvious and archives are slowly digitising the records depending on financial support received from the government. Some archives have metrical and census records in their internal databases. These are still not available to main public on internet.
Many archival funds have been lost during wars ravaged in Russia in the 20th century. Metrical and census records for many towns and small villages simply do not exist. The articles on Censuses will explain how to research.
There is also a similar genealogical research website called www.familysearch.org. It has a great collection of records but again Russian collection is limited to the following (I have included former Soviet republics):
- Armenia, Church Books, 1838-1929
- Estonia, Church Books and Synagogue Registers, 1835-1940
- Estonia, Petseri County, Surname Register Cards 1921-1923
- Estonia, Population Registers, 1918-1944
- Moldova, Church Books, 1811-1936
- Moldova, Poll Tax Census (Revision Lists) and Census Lists 1796-1917
- Ukraine, Births and Baptisms, 1784-1879
- Ukraine, Kyiv Orthodox Consistory Church Book Duplicates, 1840-1845
- Ukraine, Western Ukraine Catholic Church Book Duplicates, 1600-1937
- Ukraine, Donetsk Church books 1809-1994
- Russia Deaths and Burials, 1815-1917
- Russia Tver Church Books, 1722-1918
- Russia Tver Poll Tax Census (Revision lists), 1744-1874
- Russia, Births and Baptisms, 1755-1917
- Russia, Lutheran Church Book Duplicates, 1833-1885
- Russia, Marriages, 1793-1919
- Russia, Nizhni Novgorod Poll Tax Census (Revision Lists), 1782-1858
- Russia, Samara Church Books, 1869-1917
- Russia, Samara Civil Registers, 1918-1922
- Russia, Simbirsk Poll Tax Census (Revision Lists), 1782-1858
- Russia, Simbirsk, Church Books, 1768-1939
- Russia, Tatarstan Church Books, 1721-1939
- Russia, Tatarstan Poll Tax Census (Revision Lists), 1719-1859
- Russia, Tver Confession Lists, 1728-1913
- Russia, Bessarabia, Izmail – revizskie skazki 1835-1867
This site also is stating that Tobol’skiy uezd census (one of surviving uezd censuses for 1897) is microfilmed and is located in Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.
You might have some luck with metrical and census records, if you have Russian Jewish heritage. www.jewishgen.org has a wonderful collection of records but again it is limited only to what is available in Russian archives and what was bought on donations.
Russian online projects
- Another website that has metrical and census records on internet is Latvian archives – project Raduraksti. http://www.lvva-raduraksti.lv/en/about.html
- A virtual archive Saaga was created by Estonian National Archives in recent years. http://rahvusarhiiv.ra.ee/en/digitized-records/
- Perm archives also invested in creating a digital database of metrical records – http://pokolenia.permkrai.ru/ with nearly 1.8 million records on the website.
- Town Kozlov http://www.oldkozlov.ru/archives/metrika .This collection brings together extracts from 23 files from the State archive of the Tambov region (ф. 1049, op. 3) containing metric books of town Kozlov (now Michurinsk) for 1901-1905 and 1907-1909.
- For the first time in Ukrainian archival practice State Archive of Odessa region posted on Internet digital copies of metrical books. The first public electronic version of 16 cases – the most ancient, unique historical sources with records of birth, marriage and death for the years 1780-1787 from the fund 37 “Kherson spiritual consistory.”
- St Petersburg Consistory metrical records are online. For you to perform the search you need to know the exact church where the ancestor was born, married or died. Unfortunately the fund is not indexed. – Fund 19 St Petersburg Consistory (1744-1918)
- You can find the metrical records for Latvians who have lived in St Petersburg at some point of their life at http://earchive-estlatrus.eu/collections?p_p_id=earchivecatalog_WAR_earchiveportlet&_earchivecatalog_WAR_earchiveportlet_docTypeCode=church_book
- Belgorod archive indexed and digitised the metrical records for Belgorod and villages in various uezds of Voronezh and Kursk gubernias for the period from 1753 to 1925
- Ancestors from Uralsk region (East Kazahstan ) – you can find metrical records online
But if your ancestor cannot be found in any of these databases, then it is time to write to Russian archives. In this case you need to know how your ancestor’s name was written in Russian.