Genealogical research in the Zhytomyr Archives

We’ve just got thank you letter from Sylvia after our research in the Zhytomyr (Zhtiomir) archives.

Thank you so much for the family tree you’ve created plus data spreadsheet produced for our family. 

We’re absolutely amazed and delighted that you’ve managed to find so much information. We had no idea the research was going to be so successful.

It’s truly fantastic and so much more than we could have hoped for.


Sylvia Sheridan

Hertfordshire, UK

It’s we who should thank you! / Tomasz

“The Barn”: production of a documentary movie


If it weren’t for Tomasz’s expertise our recent trip to Ukraine would not have been possible. Through incredible hard work, unparalleled knowledge and only a small amount of information with which to begin, Tomasz was able to find what we were certain no longer existed; A barn that had been a hiding spot for 18 Jews during the Holocaust. He was wonderfully helpful during pre-production and once we arrived in Ukraine helped organize scheduling, transport, security and interviews. He is an exceptional guide and a wonderful person to be around. We can’t recommend him highly enough.

Thank you Tomasz!

Alexis Fishman & Phil Berger

New York

A report from our tour in Galicia

How Ukraine recognizes its Jewish past? Check a report from one of our tours on National Council on Public History.

New Season of Finding Your Roots

Starting from October 3rd PBS will broadcast the new season of Finding Your Roots.

Jewish Family Search has contributed to one of the episodes through extensive research on Jewish and general records from Vyzhnytsia (Wiznitz) in the State Archives of the Chernivtsy Region.

Trip with Ruth Ellen Gruber

Ruth Ellen Gruber has posted a full report from our 2-day “reconnaissance” trip in Galicia. Read also her post about new tourist signage in Brody.

Jewish Cemetery in Shchyrets

Jewish Cemetery in Shchyrets – almost unaccessible in summer due to overgrown bushes.

Jewish cemetery in Obertyn restored

Good news from Ukraine. In July 2017 Bohdan Stanislavsky, a businessman in Obertyn near Kolomyia, restored and commemorated the Jewish cemetery. Stanislavsky is an owner of the former kolkhoz built by the soviets on the land where the Jewish cemetery once stood. In  the course of  restoration works, a barn was destroyed. Dozens of tombstones which supported construction of the barn were brought back to the cemetery.

Opening of the memorial was celebrated on July 12th together with rabbi Koleshnik from Ivano-Frankivsk, municipality and local residents.

6 7 19401589_186096154755m wyzwolone macejwy spod komory wywioza na cmentarza IMG_9015

Belowesch. German colonies near Chernihiv

Recently we carried out research on a family of German colonists which settled in Belowesch (Bilovezhі) nearh Chernihiv (Chernigov).

Gorodok, german collony in Chernihiv (Chernigov)

Gorodok (Horodok) near Haivoron, a german collony in Bilovezhi, on a map from 1880.

The colonies were established by the decision of Catherine II. Her idea was to  modernize agriculture in the region by creating well managed farms which could serve as an example for local villagers and rise general level of productivity in the area. The ideas were much in spirit of the Enlightment and idea of well managed, absolute state, which emerged in the Western Europe in 18th Century which also the Russian Empire tried to follow. 124 families  were granted land on Bilovezha steppe in the district of Borzna in 1767  and 23 families established a town — Gorodok (Horodok). The 23 families were initially involved in crafts, but soon they switched to agriculture. Remaining 124 resided in 5 villages:

  • Grosswerder (Velykyi Verder, Великий Вердер, today Zelenivka, Зеленівка),
  • Rundewiese (Rundevize, Рундевізе, today Kruhloluhivka, Круглолугівка, does not exist since 2009),
  • Kleinwerder (Malyi Verder, Малий Вердер, today Pershotravneve, Першотравневе),
  • Belowesch (Bili Vezhi, Білі Вежі, today Bilovezh Pershi, Біловежі Перші),
  • Kaltschinowka (Kalchynivka, Кальчинівка, same name today).

The town of Gorodok does not exist anymore, it’s marked on the maps only by the Horodok train station in the middle of forest.  In 1951 Gorodok was renamed to Vosmoye Marta (8th of March, Восьмое Марта) and later included in administrative borders of nearby Haivoron.

During the research we localized following documents on the colonies and the colonists in State Archives in Chrnihiv, Odessa and Dnipro (Dnipropetrovsk, Yekaterinoslav). Let us know if you’d like to have these records researched.


  1. Revision list of the merchants, state serfs and colonists in the Borzna district; 1816
  2. Revision list of the townspersons-colonists and stat serfs; 1854
  3. Revision list from 1813; 1813
  4. Revision list from 1815; 1815

Tax records

  1. On the land tax on colonists from Belowesch colonies; 1810
  2. On the land tax on colonists from Belowesch colonies; 1811
  3. On the land tax on colonists from Belowesch colonies; 1814
  4. On the collection of taxes from the Belowesch colonists to maintain postal services; 1814
  5. On the collection of the land tax from the Belowesch colonists; 1817
  6. On the collection of taxes from the Belowesch colonists to maintain public space; 1817
  7. On the collection of the tax from the Belowesch colonists to sustain state roads; 1817
  8. On the collection of the land tax from the Belowesch colonists; 1818
  9. On the collection of taxes from the Belowesch colonists to maintain public space; 1818
  10. On the collection of taxes from the Belowesch colonists to support postal services; 1818
  11. On the collection of the tax from the Belowesch colonists to sustain large state roads; 1818
  12. On the collection of taxes from the Belowesch colonists to maintain water regulations; 1818
  13. On the land tax on colonists from Belowesch colonies; 1819
  14. On the collection of taxes from the Belovezha colonists to maintain public space; 1819
  15. On the land tax on colonists from Belowesch colonies; 1819
  16. On the collection of the tax from the Belowesch colonists to sustain state roads; 1819

Other documents

  1. On the correspondence of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the resettlement of the Belowesch colonists to the Chernihiv governorate and other documents regarding the colonists; 1805-1812
  2. Lists of the Belowesch colonists with sizes of their lands indicated; 1808-1809
  3. Report on the economic state of the Belowesch colonies; 1809
  4. Notes on the documents regarding re-settlement of the Belovezha colonists and on investigation of illegal activity of the Khreshchatyn colonists; 1809
  5. On voluntary donations from the colonists from Belowesch, Gdańsk (Danzig), Sweden and from Mennonites residing in Yekaterinoslav to support military draft; 1807-1808
  6. Information on economical situation of the Belowesch colonists; 1817
  7. Information on the situation of the Belowesch colonies; 1828
  8. On the re-settlement of the Belowesch colonists to the Yekateinoslav governorate; 1833Statistical information on the Belowesch collonies from 1836; 1836
  9. On the fire in the colony of Velykyi Verder; 1838
  10. Request of the superintendent of the Belowesch colonies to send him books of tax income; 1812
  11. Request to send 8 copies of the state regulations on village production [?] in german language; 1812

You can find more information on these colonies here:

Vital records of the Jews in Slovakia

Vital registration of the Jews before the World War One may be divided into two bodies: registered prior to 1895 and after 1895. Religious congregations were responsible for registration of birth, marriages and deaths before 1895, so records for each religious group were registered separately. All places in Slovakia were grouped in above 130 Jewish vital registration districts. People living in villages were obliged to register vital events in vital registration district center to which the village belonged (usually the nearest town).

In 1895 the Hungarian State (which Slovakia was a part of) took over the responsibility and thus made vital registration civil. Since that year vital events were registered together, regardless religious divisions.

LDS Church have microfilmed all pre-1895 vital records of the Jews held in the Slovakian archives. Records registered after 1895 are available only in local archives in Slovakia. Due to privacy law only records till about 1905 are freely searchable. Records for most eastern part of Slovakia (former Ung district) are held in Zemplén, Hungary and Uzhhorod, Ukraine.

We are updating our map with a new layer showing Jewish vital registration districts in Slovakia. Only districts with actually existing vital records in archives in Slovakia and Zemplén are shown. In the layer for Jewish vital registration districts in Galicia we show all districts, also those for which all vital records are lost.

Feel free to contact us if you need assistance in genealogical research of the vital records of Jews in Slovakia, as well as Zakarpattia (Podkarpatská Rus, Carpathian Ruthenia, Trans-Carpathia).

Source: Sarmányová-Kalesná Jana, Cirkevné matriky na Slovensku zo 16.-19. storočia (Bratislava: Odbor Archívnictva Ministerstva Vnútra SR, 1991).

The 1897 census of Odessa (research project)

odessaWe are beginning a new, huge project on the 1897 census of Odessa!

Please, contact us if you are interested in joining it. The more participants the lower costs of research per person!

About the census

The 1897 census of was the first modern census enumerated in the Russian Empire and at the same time the last one before the Bolshevik revolution. It registered:
family name, given name, patronymic, sex, relation to householder, age, marital status, social estate, place of birth, place of registration, place of residence, notice of absence, faith, mother language, literacy, occupation, secondary occupation, military status, mental illnesses and disabilities, address.

What exists today

As you know as a rule it was customary to destroy the census lists after contemporary officials computed information they were interested in. Odessa is one of the few exceptional cities for which the original census list from 1897 are still kept. The State Archives of the Odessa Province holds 2752 files with census lists. Judging by the overall number of pages in these files and total number of population in Odessa, I estimate that about 44% of original census lists has survived. In other words existing information covers about 61 thousands of Jews out of 139 thousands living in 1897 in Odessa (assuming that the files were lost spatially randomly). It makes this collection one of the most comprehensive genealogical source for Odessa. The files cover only the city of Odessa, they do not include information on nearby locations.

Accessibility of the files & research

LDS Church have scanned all 2752 files. Due to the limitations imposed on the LDS Church by Ukrainian archives, scans are accessible solely at the Family History Centers with disabled option for downloading the scans. 

In order to accomplish the research we will need to go through all 2752 files page by page (67250 scans, 134500 pages!). The files are arranged by houses and streets. There are no name indexes to the files. After finding family with last name researched, we will: 
– translate to English information on all household members from the census list
– retrieve photograph of the file from the State Archives of the Odessa Province for selected, relevant families.



Accomplishing whole research may take even one year, as it requires going through almost 3000 archival files. Family History Centers in Ukraine are open only for limited number of hours per week. In any case we are going to update you with partial results every 2-3 months.

Guiding in Radkekhiv (Radziechów)


On Jewish street in Radekhiv

It was a pleasant experience to be with you on our trip in Galicia, the homeland of our family. We, all the four cousins, have been impressed very much by your kind and nice personality, as well as from your knowledge on the subject of the Jews in the area. We appreciate very much the effort to find a Citizen from the community for helping to locate the house and the farm that was belonged to our Grandfather.

I must mention also the driver that was a good English speaker, kind, and helpful young man.

We were very lucky to have you as our guide, and intend to recommend you to friends and family members.

Thank You very much
From all of us

Ariela Fundaminsky