Where to look for ancestral data?
Genealogy research always involves working with different kinds of historical documents. Often, at the beginning of a search, we may encounter a general misunderstanding of where and what to look for. There are a huge number of genealogical sources, but among them we can distinguish several key ones:
- Parish registers are the basic source for genealogy research, which were the forerunners of the registry office books we are familiar with and which appeared in the early 1920s. In fact, this is a paper form for the registration of civil status records, which were maintained by representatives of the clergy of all confessions. Parish register is a notebook that is divided in most cases into three parts – records on birth, marriage, and death. An exception is the Jewish parish registers, which were kept in synagogues and, unlike the others, contained another part – records on divorces. The main places of storage of the parish registers are the regional archives and several central archival institutions – CSHAUK* and CSHAUL**.
- Confession list (confessional records) – an accounting document of church records management, which registered the attendance of confessions by the parishioners. Confessional records were kept in every parish. The main period of submission of this type of documents is the Easter Lent. The main value of this particular genealogical source is the ability to see a complete list of family members in one document. However, it should be remembered that confessional records are full of inaccuracies related to age. Therefore, you should not take the person’s age listed in this source as reliable information. It is worth remembering that the most reliable document in the context of the date of birth accuracy is the parish register.
- Census records are documents reflecting the results of revisions (censuses) of the taxable population of the Russian Empire, which were carried out for the purpose of per capita taxation of the state residents. There were 10 revisions in the Russian Empire. The first per capita census on Ukrainian lands was the fourth revision in the 1780s on the Left Bank area, indeed, it was during these years that the Cossack state of Hetmanate gradually lost signs of autonomy and became a territory controlled by Russia. Both the confessional records and the census records also often contain errors in the column “age”.
*CSHAUK – Central State Historical Archives of Ukraine in Kyiv
*CSHAUL – Central State Historical Archives of Ukraine in Lviv