Monday, August 5, 2013

IAJGS2013 Conference - Day 2, Part 1

Day 2 of the International Conference on Jewish Genealogy.  As the conference progresses, you'll be able to see my entire summary, day by day, here.

I started my morning in the conference hotel's presidential suite. Much better view than from my room!
IAJGS people brought together people from across the US and the world (including Japan and Brazil) with no local Jewish Genealogical Society (JGS). Baltimore doesn't have an active one, and three of us were at the (early) morning meeting.  We are going to try to reconstitute the society. Anyone from the Baltimore area interested?  Please let me know in the comments. 

Then I attended a very interesting (and applicable for me) talk by Olga Muzychuk who is the deputy director of the state archives in Ukraine.
There is a huge network of state archives with 698 institutions. The ones most relevant to jewish genealogy are the central and regional archives as well as the 2 city archives (in Lviv and Kyiv).  There are over 3000 archivists in Ukraine. The documents they have could circle the equator 75 times with all the pages; in comparison, the holdings of the United States could circle the equator only 57 times.

The Lviv historical archives cover western Ukraine. Kyiv covers metrical books for Kyiv, Cherkassy and more.  Lviv has registers of over 350 jewish communities in what was Galicia. Kyiv along has over 1500 units.

She noted that while ZAKS local offices are supposed to keep records for 75 years and then give them to the regional archives, some of those archives don't have storage space, so records older than 75 years may not be in archives

She then discussed the types of documents that Ukraine's archives have.

There are law books from the 15th-18th centuries with information on sales, tenancy, life of citizens, taxes paid, and more.

State affairs and individual files are stored in Lviv. They contain many court cases against Jews accused of spreading socialist and other ideas. These records often had a lot of information about the accuseds' families.

Police documents and files cover records from many areas including Volhynia and Podolia. These often contain photographs and/or physical descriptions.

There is information about taxes and censuses.

In general, documents are organized by fond. Each has its own title and number. Inside a fond, everything is organized by inventory (opus) number. There could be 1000 inventories in one fond. Everything is in Russian or Ukrainian.

Most archives have no one familiar with English. Any inquiries should be detailed with town, family name, and years. Make sure to include the historical region of Ukraine, exact village or town.

There will be fees which depend on the complexity of the search. You'll have to sign a research agreement and transfer funds via a bank transfer. She is aware that there are fees for this, but due to legal restrictions, it is how it must be.

Realize that your family may have lived in the place you know for only a generation or they may have lived in a nearby village, so there may be nothing, but you are paying for the research to be done, so you will still have to pay.

You can do research onsite. She recommends you being a translator. You will need to fill out an application to do research, and sometimes they will have to being files out of storage, so you may not get them until the next day.

Of all the archives, only the Lviv Oblast Archives are not of genealogical value.

They'd like to start digitizing documents but aren't currently funded for that.

I then attended a bit of Miriam Weiner'a talk, but it was mostly clicking through her Routes to Roots website (which is a valuable site, but I've already explored it).

So I met a DNA cousin (no verified connection, but she has ancestors from Boremel as well) for lunch. We then explored a bit of Boston and saw, among other things, Paul Revere's house.
And now, more genealogy this afternoon!


  1. Brooke Schreier GanzAugust 6, 2013 at 6:40 PM

    "Of all the archives, only the Lviv Oblast Archives are not of genealogical value."

    She is wrong; Gesher Galicia has gotten *tons* of great stuff from that archive! And some of it is already online in the All Galicia Database! :-)

    1. Thanks for that! (And nice to meet you in person today!)