Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I'd Rather Be Rusyn Than Russian

Several have already written about Helping People to Uncover Their Ancestry, an article that just appeared in The Moscow Times. I remember in the "Ancestors at Risk" episode of the second Ancestors series that we covered the fact that many archived records in Russia were destroyed under Communism for no more reason than a simple lack of paper (check out the second video on this page), and this article seems to echo the special kinds of challenges confronted by those seeking out their Russian roots.

This article was actually brought to my attention by Martha Fish because of a mention of the destruction of records for Smolensk. I found that wildly appropriate since I had grown up being told -- incorrectly, as I would later learn -- that I was Russian with roots in Smolensk (seems logical, eh?). Fortunately for me -- at least in the genealogical sense -- I turned out to be Rusyn from a collection of villages now located in Slovakia, Poland and Ukraine.

At any rate, this article is unfortunately a case of deja vu for me. I have dealt with research firms over in Ukraine, for instance, and wrestled with currency transfer complications, as well as the expectations of inexperienced researchers. I noted that this article says research takes a year to 18 months and costs $100 to $5,000 -- and I harkened back to the time I received what I call "wholesale genealogy" (that is, all the records for a name, rather than the ones that pertained to my family) and an invoice for $3,000 -- after I had authorized a maximum of $1,000. Ah, the joys of Eastern European roots!

I was also amused when the site's translation tool informed me that one of the services available was "manufacturing of the nobiliary arms," probably an accurate description of what those little carts in so many malls and tourist areas crank out for the unsuspecting.

At any rate, I'm sure these folks have the best of intentions -- and probably waaaay more demand than they can handle -- but these days, I prefer to check the Family History Library Catalog (by place) every few months for anything new that might have appeared on one of my villages, deal with folks (especially mayors and clergy) still in the villages today, or work through Utah-based ProGenealogists (which has a network of researchers based in Eastern Europe).

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