Sunday, April 14, 2024

Indexed Records--Don't Stop, There's More!

(Note: While this post discusses documents from JewishGen's Ukraine RD, it applies to indexed documents from pretty much any platform.)

JewishGen has added hundreds of thousands of indexed records to its database in the past year, with much of that increase attributable to records from Ukraine being indexed.  And that's great.  (It also means you should be doing searches regularly, because of the scope and frequency of records being indexed and added to JewishGen.)  But don't just stop with the information from the index index--and I'll demonstrate why.

The Zubkis family seems to have been unusually mobile compared to other branches of my family.  So while I've been able to find records for Zubkis (and Zubkov and the like) relatives by manually reading through record books in towns where I know they lived, it also means that sometimes they surprise me by popping up in indexed records where I hadn't looked.  I regularly search for an exact match to z*bk* on JewishGen and then take a close look at the results.  Here's one such result:

Index to Zlata Zubko's 1841 Birth; JewishGen's Ukraine Database

Zlata Zubko was born on August 12, 1841 in the town of Gaysin, the large town adjacent to my Zubkis' ancestral town of Kuna.  I'm given Zlata's parents' names as well as her paternal grandfather's name.  So it would be easy to add Zlata to my tree (assuming a Zubko is connected to my Zubkis family, of course), documenting her being born on this specific date in Gaysin, which is now Haysin, Ukraine.

But let's look at the original record--which I can find by clicking on the "image" link in this record.

Zlata Zubkis/Zubko Birth, 1841

Zlata's birth was recorded in both Russian and Hebrew.  And while the Russian version does give her father's surname as "Zubko," the Hebrew has her surname as "Zubkis."  So that's an interesting data point that I wouldn't have known from the index alone.

The center column here is also very informative.  While this book contains Jewish births in Gaysin--and therefore was indexed as such, it actually covers towns in the Gaysin Uezd (district), not just the city Gaysin.  And we learn here that Zlata was actually born in the village of Mitlinitz--currently Mitlyntsi, Ukraine, to the northwest of Gaysin.  Zlata may never have even stepped foot in Gaysin, and recording her birth in that town would have been incorrect.  And I would have never thought to look for her or her family in Mitlinitz-specific record sets.

And there's yet another important data point here that can direct research.  Along with the parents' information that had been indexed on JewishGen, there are two additional pieces of information that weren't indexed: We get Zlata's father Simcha's profession (merchant), and we also have Simcha's town of registration--which is given as Ladizhin in Hebrew and Torgovitzik in Russian.  Ladizhyn is just to the southwest of Haysin (and adjacent to Kuna), while Togovitzik/Torhovytsia is east of Uman.  Usually the town of registration is consistent between the languages, but in this case it isn't.  But it gives me two routes of investigation to trace Zlata's family back further and potentially find an intersection with mine.  These recent transcriptions that are in JewishGen's Ukraine database have not extracted town of registration, but often the original records include that information.

So lessons to take here?

  1. Keep rerunning your JewishGen searches, as more indexed records are continually being added
  2. Look at the original of any record.  This isn't just the case on JewishGen, but is an important tactic for any site with indexed records.
  3. If records are kept in multiple languages that you don't speak, get them all translated.
    1. If you are on Facebook, you can post a screenshot of the original record on Genealogical Translations, or in more general Jewish genealogy groups like Tracing the Tribe or Jewish Genealogy Portal.  
    2. If you aren't on Facebook, you can post an image on JewishGen's Viewmate.  With all of these options, volunteers will help you translate original records.
  4. Make note of any additional locations which were mentioned in the original record and use them as hints to guide your research.  I can look at Mitlyntsi (where Zlata was born), as well as Ladyzhin and Torhovytsia, one of which is hopefully the correct town in which Zlata's father was registered.
  5. Did I mention to go back and re-do your searches?  More has been added!

Happy searching--and then looking at originals for your results!

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  1. Good to be hearing more from you, Lara. Interesting new finds for you, good tips AND reminders for all of us! Thanks.

  2. good advice. thank you, lara!!

  3. As far as I understand, Torgovitsik in Russian means “merchant”, so it probably applies to the fact that the father was a merchant, which is also indicated in Hebrew, and not to a place of registration. The place of registration is not given in Russian here.

  4. Appropriate timing. I'm based in the US but recently helped someone in Ukraine by accessing unindexed Ukrainian records at my local FamilySearch Center.
    I spend a lot of my time in various unindexed records for various locations.

  5. Thank you! This is very helpful.