Sunday, April 2, 2023

Amazing Subcarpathian Records, Available Online

If you have family from what is now Zakarpattya Oblast, Ukraine, or from the areas immediately bordering (including towns in Romania, Slovakia and Hungary), there is an incredible newly-online resource available.  There are records for both Jews and non-Jews in this collection.  The predominant languages in the records are Hungarian and Slovakian, but there are also documents in Ukrainian, Yiddish, German, Romanian, and possibly more.  I'll talk about where these are from, the types of documents I've found so far, how to best navigate these records to find your family members' documents, as well as how to deal with records in foreign (to you) languages below.

Statement for Mendel Rutner (my 1C3R), as an industrialist, 1939 (page 2).  This second page asks for the paternal and maternal grandparents for both himself and his spouse. It also asks for their children's dates of birth

The US Holocaust Memorial Museum has partnered with the Ukrainian State Archives for over 25 years to copy Holocaust-related records, but they were on microfilm so not broadly accessible without a visit to the museum.  These records are now coming online; you can read a comprehensive press release here.  One of the recent record sets to come online--and the one I'll discuss today--is entitled, "Selected records from the State Archives of Transcarpathian Region of Ukraine related to the history of the Jewish Communities of the region before, during, and after WWII," and can be browsed here.

I've been browsing through these documents for less than a week, and I've found records ranging from passport applications from the 1920s (often including photos!) for people wanting to emigrate, to business applications (from the 1920s-1940s) which often include to-scale drawings of the buildings and associated land, to ghetto deportation lists (which have each individual's mother's maiden name) and more.  Many of the records ask for people's parents' names (and sometimes grandparents' names, as you can see in the image above), as well as names and often ages for all of their children, even in records like business applications.  Multiple record sets contain copies of individuals' vital records, to prove their birthplace and sometimes that of their parents.

List of Jewish property owners who had been deported (to ghettos), and the people who were assigned their now-empty homes.  My ggg uncle Volf Rutner is on line 5, and most of the rest are related to me as well.  May 1944, Darva (now Kolodne)

So how do you best navigate these records?  When you go to the main page, on the top right, you'll see links to finding aids, in both Hungarian and Ukrainian.  The Ukrainian version only deals with higher-level collection names (funds), but the Hungarian version details what it in each folder (fund, opis & delo), so you'll want to open the Hungarian finding aid.

Choose the Hungarian Finding Aid

The Hungarian Finding Aid is a PDF, and you'll be able to use CTRL-F to search for specific terms.  First off, search for your specific surname(s) and town(s) of interest--you may find a case which is specific to your surname or town.  Use the Hungarian form of the names (for example, I looked for my family's town as "Darva," its Hungarian name, not "Kolodne," which is the current Ukrainian name as well as the Yiddish name of the town).  Surnames may also be spelled differently in Hungarian than Slovak; my Joshowitz (American spelling) family was Joszovics in Hungarian and Josovic in Slovak.  Search for the Hungarian version, but check out the Slovak versions as well, since some records are from the time that this region belonged to Czechoslovakia.

You'll also want to look for records that cover the particular járás (Hungarian-era district) for your ancestral towns.  I concentrated on técsői járás and taracvölgyi járás records.  Going through records for my towns' districts has, thus far, been the most fruitful, at least for my personal research.

Note that sometimes records collections associated with one town or járás are in adjacent towns/járás record sets.  So you'll want to determine the adjacent járás, since I've found records for adjacent járás in the records I was perusing.  I found records for my town of Darva/Kolodne in records for the adjacent village of Dulfalva/Dulovo. 

So once you find a record set that looks like it might be interesting, what do you do?  

I'm interested in what looks like 314-2-10.  It is a typo and should be (because first column is sequential) 341-2-10.

I'm interested in 341-2-10, which is Fond 341, Opis 2, Delo 10, which denotes the way that these items are organized in the archive.  There's a list of folders, and I can scroll down that list until I get to Fond 341.

Click on the triangle to the left of "Fond 341"

After clicking on the triangle to the left of "Fond 341," I then want to scroll down to "Opis 2."

Click on the triangle to the left of "Opis 2."

After clicking on the triangle to the left of "Opis 1," I then want to scroll to "Delo 10."

Click on "Delo 10"

Once you click on "Delo 10," you'll see the image display area loading up the images, and you can then scroll through.  To download a specific image, click on the icon on the bottom left of the viewer.

Scroll through images!

I haven't even gone through a small fraction of the available images in this collection, and I've found so much out about my family members' lives, both pre-war and until they were deported in the 1940s.  The fact that so many records ask for mother's maiden name (and sometimes grandmother's), I've been able to locate family members (especially women) who had disappeared from records well before the 1940s.

Deportation List - Jews of Felso-Neresznicze (now Novoselytya, Ukraine), with right column being mother's maiden name.  Most of these people are my relatives.

JewishGen will work on getting some of these indexed, but with the scale of records here, it'll take a while.  But you can navigate these records now, even if you don't speak Hungarian (or Slovak or the other languages here).  As you can see from the images I've used, many of these records are typewritten or are forms that are filled in.  Even the handwritten ones allow you to relatively easily pick out names.  Often there are typewritten pages in Hungarian or Slovakian that summarize what the records will be or typed petitions where you can pick out names of interest, and I can have those images up on my computer while using Google Translate's photo translation feature to get a really good gist of what the document says.

Gerszon Fux (my 2C1R) left a sewing machine behind when he was deported to the ghetto.  His neighbor requests that he get the machine.  This is screenshot of Google Translate on my phone translating the document on my computer.

So take a look at these records, and comment below if you find other tips to locate records--or to let me know if you've found records for your own family!

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  1. Thank you for this. My mother came from an area called Tisa Vereshmort, Romania. They all spoke Hungarian and a tiny bit of Yiddish.. Ive been told records are in a city in Ukraine now. I hope I can find something. Mom was a holocaust survivor but her parents, husband, grandmothers and in laws perished.

    1. The town is actually still in Romania; it's modern-day Tisa, Romania, and you can see the town on a map here: You can search JewishGen's Hungary database for the town of Veresmart as as well as Tisaveresmart (the Hungarian names) and potentially find records!

  2. Very grateful for your step-by-step directions! I'm going to check for my Ungvar-area ancestors and beyond. Take care.

    1. There's a ton for the Ungvar area. Good luck with the search!

  3. Amazing. Many of these individual records consist of many pages, so if one scrolls through all pages one may be able to pick up key facts about the person in question, such as age, address, or parents, etc. with knowing just English. This can also help determine if the subject person is the one of interest or someone else with the same name.

    1. Precisely. This is a treasure trove of information.

  4. Lara, thank you!
    Any idea why the Finding Aid is not also shown in English?

    1. I assume it was generated by the archive, not the museum, but that's just my guess. Google Translate is your friend in these types of situations.

    2. I did find some Geiger relatives in Residents' applications for the issuance of a certificate of territorial identity. Volume 7.

    3. In the records for my family on proving citizenship there are letters from the authorities asking for evidence such as vital, census, and tax records. While the family members provided narrative answers to such questions, I did not see in these records any actual evidentiary documents that they may also have submitted with the exception of one marriage record.

    4. (It’s Lara with a browser that won’t let me log in.)

      Every record set is different here. I’ve seen some with tons of copies of vital records as evidence and others with none.

  5. This is such a useful post--really a model for sharing how to use a group of new records for which searching wouldn't necessarily be intuitive. Do you know what towns in Slovakia are included? I've been searching for any records relating to Ulics, where an ancestor of mine was born ca. 1799.

    1. (It's Lara, although for some reason Google's not letting me comment as myself right now.)

      Thank you!

      I don't know what towns are included, just saw that some are. Look for the jaras that includes your towns and those adjacent in modern-day Ukraine and check for records for those towns/jaras.