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We have completed the research and found out how the letters in the Soviet passports (and удостоверения личности, personal IDs, and in ZAGS birth certificates) were assigned over the most part of the XX century. A couple of months of fruitless archival research finally brought some Real Historical Gems.

It turned out that the 1974 series passports (which remained in use until 1999 and were not technically made invalid until today) were assigned regional two-letter series with the effort not to duplicate the 1934 series logical design — this way it seems that the 1974 series are very chaotic, although they are not.

We should try to make it into the book and the online database some time by the end of this year. Should somebody wishes to volunteer to help us with (mostly) database design, we will appreciate the effort.

Soviet 1930s passport cover page

Soviet 1930s passport cover page

Want to discuss this? Need help with old historical documents? We are ready to help.


Those underlined letters we were after.

Those underlined letters we were after.

This passport series IV-ДИ was from ~1938 to ~1974 assigned to Chelyabinsk region. Which matches the writing on this passport page. The 6-digit number is also valid one.


Recently visited Riga historical archive and about 6 local cemeteries near Panevezys, Lithuania. Fully documented relatives for the passport citizenship application. Looks like the family (which we traced in Ekaterinburg archives early this year) could be traced back to 1686 in Vilnius archive…

Panevezys area cemetery


Unnamed graves

Party archive

I recently went to this standard archival building in this part of the world (note those small windows which usually covered with dark glass):


It houses the former Sverdlovsk Communist party archive (currently titled “Center of the documentation of public organisations”


The place has a very large holdings of 1950s-1990s history of the region. And the  quiet proud history of keeping it.

“It was around 1991, when the Communist party was dismantled, and we receieved, within a month or so, 31 truckload of documents of the closed regional party bodies. They came unsorted, yes, it was bags full of papers… And we spent the next 10 years sorting and reviewing those documents”…

And they have something to be proud — digitized finding aids which you could search and find very rare views of the historical events which are less than 50 years old, something you could not easily find anywhere else…

I am very thankful to local archivists for all the help they provided me with.

Where is Dustih Hoffman, Hollywood movie star, and where are we, humble historic researchers, you may ask?

We helped the PBS Finding Your Roots to locate and document details of Dustin’s grandfather’s life and death in Bela Tserkva, Russian Empire (now Ukraine).


We researched this part of his family tree:


And found this newspaper with the news (sad one) which made Hoffman cry…


Watch the full episode on PBS site while you can, or get more details on Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates in this wiki article.

We are not sure we could film those nice pictures, but we are sure we could create the same emotions with our historical findings…



New Channel

We are on Telegram. Ask your questions here: telegram.me/genealogy


China Eastern Rairoad

We are frequently asked to trace families of Russians from Harbin and other Chinese locations related to the КВЖД — China Eastern Railroad.

The book we published — Russians in China. Genealogical index (1926-1946) — is a good place to start your research.

We are having an exciting case with documents flowing in from Khabarovsk archive, Russian State Historical Archive in St Petersbourg and from the digitized collection of Tobolsk archive, one of the largest Siberia-related collections. And Tobolsk documents allowed us to trace two generations of the family in Siberia.


Artwork provenance


We spent several days and were able to successfully locate the picture of the Russian painter, presented to Isabel II of Spain in 1860, inventoried in 1870 and never seen since then.

The Patrimonio National employees helped us to find the record for it and then we were allowed to actually visit underground storage vaults of Madrid Palacio Real to look at the painting.

It was very impressive.

And yes, this was a nice addition to our usual genealogical research work.

Contact us if you need something from Russia.

We will be giving the talk on October 24th at the “Nashi Predky-Our Ancestors” Fall 2015 Conference in the Ukrainian Cultural Center Somerset, NJ.

Please feel free to join this event, we expect this to be very informative and exciting conference.

The title of our speech is Tracing heirs through Ukrainian archives: Detective stories of metrical records and censuses. And we promise to share some exciting real life stories.

The Nashi Predky-Our Ancestors Family History Group of the Ukrainian Historical and Educational Center of NJ presents its annual full-day Fall Conference. Expert speakers will present talks on a variety of topics related to Ukrainian genealogy, including deportations of Lemkos from Poland, the US Federal Census, DNA testing, and methods for researching Central and Eastern Ukrainian ancestors. October 24, 2015 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM. Ukrainian Cultural Center, 135 Davidson Avenue, Somerset, NJ 08873. Cost $65 (early bird registration $55 until October 3), lunch included. Register online at www.nashipredky.org or call 732-356-0132.


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See you at the conference.

–Kirill and Olexa



We did research with WWII residence lists in Zdolbuniv, Riwne oblast, Ukraine.

This is the local archive building:



And the nice and very helpful archive personnel with our senior researcher:



The arrow on the following photo shows where you should go to find the vital records archive in Chernivtsi.


We have been to St Petersbourg on several research projects as well.

Keeping travelling to uncover more of your hidden stories.

My current research project is to identify the persons, who reportedly were serving at the Bronenosets Potemkin at the time of mutiny in 1905.

Photo was reportedly taken in US, and has no markings of names our anything else. Persons pictured are in usual civil attire.

Found out that the authoritative list of sailors was carefully researched and published only in 2008.

It turns out that there was around 800 sailors on Potemkin. It seems that from 10 to 45 of them migrated to North (or South) America. Some with the help of Dukhobors moved to Canada.

It looks like czar’s Department of Police had pictures of most of those sailors.

Trying to find those pictures in Moscow archives and museums now. Very limited success and still no ID.

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