Family trees now ready for online exploration

St. Petersburg boasts more than two million ancient parish registers, many with direct bearing on Belarus and Belarusians

St. Petersburg boasts more than two million ancient parish registers, many with direct bearing on Belarus and Belarusians

Nikolay Nikolaev, who heads the Department of Rare Books at the Russian National Library, is an expert on the history of Belarusians in St. Petersburg. He tells us that a huge community of Belarus-born figures lived in the city from the 19th century, including writers Yan Barshchevsky and Yanka Kupala, teacher Bronislav Epimakh-Shipila, and linguist Evfimy Darsky. More than 150 buildings in the historical centre were designed by architects from Belarus, and Belarusfilm Studio first launched in the Russian city.

Well-known Minsk ethnographer and blogger Vadim Zelenkov has been researching archives in St. Petersburg, finding information on his grandmother, Sofia Ivanovna, who attended Bestuzhev Courses in 1914.

Some documents are yet to be placed online in Minsk and Grodno, explains Denis Liseychikov, the Deputy Director of the National Historical Archives of Belarus. He laments that the server lacks capacity to hold all the documents in electronic form. He explains, “The National Historical Archives of Belarus has over a million units of storage, dating from 1391 to the 1930s. Of these, about 10 percent are related to genealogy and only a small share is scanned: papers used more often and, because of that, having suffered decay. However, work continues. This year, we’ll try to create an Internet inventory of all dossiers stored in the Archives.”

By Tatiana Borisova
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