Routes to Roots logo
Routes to Roots Foundation, Inc.

INTRODUCTION

General Overview
Towns and Repositories by Country
New and Additional Information
Cooperation for the Joint Project
Verification of Data
Search Difficulties
Researching the Documents
Accessing the Material in the Archives
Hiring a Professional Researcher
Sample Entry - Birth Record
Submitting New/Revised Information to the Database

INTRODUCTION TO EASTERN EUROPEAN ARCHIVAL DATABASE

Jewish genealogists seeking family documents from Eastern Europe are now able to search this single online source for listings of their ancestral towns. The database includes the combined archival holdings in Belarus, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland and Ukraine (as well as selected archive holdings from archives in Russia, Latvia, and Romania). Also are included are documents from civil registration offices in Poland (Urzad Stanu Cwyilnego offices) and civil registration offices in Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova (ZAGS Offices); the Jewish Historical Institute (Warsaw, Poland); Pinkassim collection of the V. Vernadskyi Library (Kiev, Ukraine); Regional Museum (Ostrog, Ukraine) and the private collection of Rabbi Moishe Leib Kolesnik (Ivano Frankivsk, Ukraine).

Consolidation of the archival inventories from the above will synthesize the holdings for single localities held in the archives of more than one country. There is no charge to access the data on this website or to print document entries for specific towns.

Much of the data, compiled over the past 25 years, was originally published in
Jewish Roots in Ukraine and Moldova and Jewish Roots in Poland (both authored by Miriam Weiner). Since the Ukraine/Moldova book is out of print and there are no plans to reprint it, it was determined that the best way to maintain and disseminate the archival database was to post the information on this website with periodic updates.

It should be noted that many documents in Eastern European archives have been microfilmed or copied in some manner and can be found in archives worldwide, including the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People (CAHJP) in Jerusalem at Hebrew University, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Archives (USHMM) in Washington D.C. and the www.familysearch.org (FHL) in Salt Lake City. Many of the documents microfilmed by these three repositories are included in this database. Additions are being made as part of an on-going process.

« back to top


Towns and Repositories by Country
It is suggested that you
print the relevant pages relating to the countries of interest to you because of the important information contained on these pages.


Not on map: Romania | Russia

Choose from the rollover menu by country.


« back to top


New and Additional Information
Lists of birth, marriage and death registers (vital records) and census records preserved in the Polish State Archives are being updated on a periodic basis by the employees of the Archives. The updated information is being transmitted to the Routes to Roots Foundation pursuant to written Agreement and incorporated into the database.

Extensive new and updated data from the Polish State Archives, the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw and archives throughout Ukraine are included in this database. Previously unpublished holdings of the Moldova ZAGS (town civil registration) offices in Moldova are included as well.

The database includes a few Holocaust-related entries for documents in the State Archives of the Russian Federation in Moscow. The source for these entries is
List of German Fascist Concentration Camps, Ghettos and Places Where People Were Deported to During the Occupation of Belarus, 1941–1945. See "Sources for Inventory Data." The Lithuanian archives hold documents for a few towns within the current borders of Latvia and this data is also included in the database.

Also included in the database are a few entries from the Russian State Historical Archives in St. Petersburg, primarily relating to towns in Moldova (formerly Bessarabia).


In addition to archival inventory data, the website also includes the following:

Introductory sections (Archivist Insights) by archive directors previously published in the Jewish Roots books (archivists in Belarus and Lithuanian have also written comparable sections)
Excerpted chapters written by archivists that appeared in both books (archivists in Belarus and Lithuania have also written comparable sections).
The website also features links to other related websites, such as JewishGen, state archives in the five participating countries and the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw.
A form for submitting new/revised data for the database
Various maps.

The Eastern European Archival Database will be updated periodically based upon new information received directly from the archives or from individuals (which will then be verified by the appropriate archives). The website is primarily in the English language; however, the Archivist Insights sections are in English and the language of the archivist’s country. The database follows the same general format as published in the Jewish Roots books.

Jewish Roots in Poland Jewish Roots in Ukraine and Moldova

Foreword - [pdf 684k]

Foreword - [pdf 168k]
(order form) (out of print)

« back to top


Cooperation for the Joint Project
Archivists from the primary countries (Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Poland, and Lithuania) whose records are represented in the database have expressed considerable enthusiasm for the project. The chief archivists in each country have cooperated with professionalism, promptness and detail. From their point of view, dissemination of this information has resulted in increased tourism, research requests and income to the archives.

The Ukraine/Moldova book has been given to numerous Jewish communities, archives, local museums and libraries throughout Ukraine and Moldova, with the result that additional information has been gleaned about documents in private collections. This updated information will be verified and included in the Consolidated Eastern European Archival Database. In addition, the Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) has agreed to provide new information discovered during its ongoing microfilming process in Eastern Europe and that data is also included in the database.

As a result of the publication of the foregoing two volumes, various diplomats have also offered their cooperation and support, when needed, including the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Consul Generals and Ambassadors to the U.S. from Belarus, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland and Ukraine.

« back to top


Verification of Data
The new archival data from Belarus and Lithuania has been reviewed and verified by the appropriate archive directors, following the same procedure used in Poland, Moldova and Ukraine. As Ruslan "Pyrih (director of the State Committee on Archives of Ukraine) says in his introductory remarks to Jewish Roots in Ukraine and Moldova, "We consider the verification process by our archivists essential to the validity of any publication about our holdings."
« back to top


Search Difficulties
The search for documents from Eastern European ancestral towns has been complicated partly because of widespread destruction of documents during the Holocaust. Then the frustration of not knowing what or who was behind the Iron Curtain kept family historians in the dark about archival documents and surviving relatives until just ten years ago. Changing borders have further complicated the search because documents for towns located near borders may reside in several different archives located in two or more countries.

To further complicate the problem of locating ancestral documents, often the Jewish records of small villages were registered in the Jewish records of nearby larger towns. If you are searching for a town in Galicia, CLICK HERE to access the Polish Roots "Galician Town" locator.

Note: The Routes to Roots Foundation does not have the information to determine which record groups contain the documents of nearby smaller villages. In order to try to obtain that information, one might query people through the JewishGen Family Finder (both from village and nearby town) and also post messages to the listserv of the appropriate country-based Special Interest Group (SIG).

Many Jewish genealogists have been told that their families came from places known as Galicia, Bessarabia, Bukovina, Prussia or White Russia. Such names cannot be found on current maps; therefore, detective work is needed to determine the country in which the towns are now located. Of course, spelling variations and pronunciation differences contribute to the problems. The comparatively recent independence of countries in the former USSR complicates matters because of additional name changes. (For example, The town formerly known as Grodno is now Hrodna; Ostrog, is now Ostroh, etc.).

« back to top


Researching the Documents Listed in the Database
A search begins with the entry of the town name using the CURRENT SPELLING, in Latin letters, with no accents. This database does not recognize diacritical markings. If the researcher knows only the first few letters of the town, it is possible to enter only that information and all towns that begin with those letters will appear in the listing. The researcher can then try to identify the correct town from the list on the screen and proceed from there. Town names can be searched with the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex system. Some towns are cross-referenced with spelling variations or name changes, but the researcher will be best served by first determining the current spelling of a town name by consulting Where Once We Walked by Gary Mokotoff and Sallyann Amdur Sack (Avotaynu, 1991). A revised edition of this gazetteer was published in 2002.

The database lists the types of documents that have survived, including army/recruit lists, Jewish vital records (birth, death, marriage, divorce records), family lists and census records (revisky skazkie), voter and tax lists, immigration documents, Holocaust material, property and notary records, police files and pogrom documents; school records and occupation lists, local government and hospital records. The span of years covered by the documents, the archive and city that holds them, and the archive file numbers, as well as addresses of archives or links to archive websites that maintain their own address lists are also provided.

1897 Marriage Record (small) 1903 Certification (small) 1901 Death Record (small)


« back to top


Accessing the Material in the Archives

The researcher may consult various on-line databases hosted by the State Archives in Eastern Europe, SIG Groups on JewishGen and other databases where they can find name indices to documents along with excerpted information from the documents.

Note: The project known as Jewish Records Indexing-Poland (JRI-Poland) includes a searchable database of indices to 19th century Jewish vital records from current and former territories of Poland. More than 4,000,000 records from more than 500 Polish towns (as of January 1, 2010) have been indexed and are available, with more being added regularly. On the JRI-Poland website, you can also access the Polish Alijah Passports at the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw. After you have located specific documents of interest, there is a form to complete to request copies of the documents. CLICK HERE to learn more about this exciting project and to search the database.

The researcher may also travel to the country/countries where their ancestral documents are located and do the research themselves, keeping in mind that they will be incurring substantial costs for travel, visa, translator, car/driver, hotels, etc.
The researcher may write to the archives directly. In this event, the researcher must provide specific information including current town name and location, original surnames, time period of interest, document types of interest, etc. It is best to write your letter in the language of the country where the archive is located.
The researcher may hire a professional genealogist/researcher to do this work on their behalf. It is highly recommended that one obtain written references from previous clients and that the references are actually contacted.
« back to top


Hiring a Professional Researcher

It is recommended that one obtain:

An agreement in writing as to exactly what is to be researched, signed by both parties
The time period of the assignment
The costs involved (research time, travel costs, copy costs, etc.)
Method and terms of payment
What you are to receive: a report that includes:
1. List of documents searched
2. Years searched
3. Archive numbers (fond/opis/delo [file] in former Soviet Union;
   and zespol/sygnatura in Poland)
4. Location and name of archive where search was done
5. Translation of documents
6. Document copies (if requested)

According to Gary Mokotoff, publisher of Avotaynu, "a genealogist should deal with an individual or company who has offices where the genealogist lives so as to have some recourse if they are unhappy with the results or lack of response."

Editor’s Note: The foregoing article is revised and adapted from an article that appeared in Avotaynu, Vol. 17, no. 3 (Fall 2001: pp. 3–5) and appears on this website with permission from the publisher.

For further information on customized archival research services, see www.routestoroots.com. This research company, based in New Jersey with offices in Ukraine and Poland, is the pioneer in Jewish genealogy research in Eastern Europe (beginning in 1989), has access to the archives and provides excellent references.


« back to top


Sample Entry– Birth Records of Berezhany

Repository
Location
Repository
Type
Document
Type
Years of
Documents
File
Numbers
Lvov A B 1846–1864 701/1/3,5
Warsaw A B 1864–1898 300
Warsaw U B 1899–1942 983

From the entry above, we can see that Jewish birth records covering the years 1846–1864 are located in the Central State Historical Archive of Ukraine in Lviv, fond 701, opis 1, files 3 and 5. Jewish birth records for the period 1864–1898 are held in the Polish State Archives (AGAD) in Warsaw, zespol (the Polish equivalent of the Russian fond or record group) number 300. Birth records for the period 1899–1942 are kept in the Urzad Stanu Cywilnego (civil registration) office in Warsaw, zespol 983.

Consolidating data from Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Poland and Lithuania allows researchers to easily identify records of interest, even when they are kept in different archives in more than one country. As the entry above demonstrates, Jewish birth records for Berezhany are held in three archives in two different countries. Berezhany is now in Ukraine; between the World Wars, it was part of Poland and formerly it was in the geographical area known from 1772–1919 as Galicia.

Codes for repository and document types are defined on the website. Each database entry also provides the district in which the town currently is located.

« back to top


Submitting New/Revised Information to the Database
Readers and researchers who are aware of new or revised information relating to the archive inventories found in this database are invited to contact Miriam Weiner at mweiner@routestoroots.com.



RTR Foundation home page > Introduction