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Russian Research

  • Wars, revolution and lack of preservation have destroyed a significant part of Russia's written records.
  • Each person has a given name, a patronymic and a surname.
    • The patronymic usually ends in -ovich for men or -ovna for women.
    • Orthodox and Catholic families tended to name children for saints.
    • Jews in Russia did not adopt surnames until the government required their use in the early 19th century.
    • Many Russian immigrants Americanized their names.
    • Dictionary of Period Russian Names
  • Archives from the former Soviet Union concentrate their holdings according to oblasts (provinces). You need to know both the old and new jurisdiction to search.
  • Most records will have to be accessed in person at Russian archives.
    • Russian Archives has contact information for all archives and links to each archive's website, if one exists. The website is in Russian.
  • Russian Empire Jurisdictions
  • Free database containing descriptions of Russian archive holdings.
  • The Russians to American Passenger Data File, 1834-1897
  • LI-RA-MA collection holds Jewish, Ukrainian and Finnish immigrants' passport applications and questionnaires from 1898-1922.