18 May 2024

SLIG Fall Virtual: Slava Ukraini! Genealogical Research in Ukraine

I am pleased to be a part of the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy Fall Virtual class “Slava Ukraini! Genealogical Research in Ukraine” where I will be teaching a session on the German colonists who lived within the historical borders of modern-day Ukraine. 

A description of the class, a short video, and the full schedule is available here. Registration is now open

# # #

15 April 2024

Pending Toponym Changes in Ukraine

Ukraine’s Parliamentary Committee on Regional Development is in the process of evaluating and recommending renaming some of the country’s toponyms (place names—cities, villages, districts) to comply with its law “On condemnation and prohibition of propaganda of Russian imperial policy in Ukraine and decolonization of toponymy.”

To date this year, it has recommended 347 toponyms be renamed because they “contain symbols of the Russia imperial policy, or do not meet the standards of the state language.” Some of the current names of our German ancestral colonies will be renamed if all the recommendations are approved by Ukraine’s Parliament. 

This is not the first time Ukraine has renamed its cities, villages, and regions. Prior to this in 2016, Ukraine passed a law decommunizing toponyms. Two years later when comparing the current places names on the maps of this project with the official new names, there were several that were changed but not yet updated on Google Maps. It takes a while for place name authorities to catch up and for them to filter into online maps and genealogy software that uses current place names. 

I will update the maps of this project when parliamentary approval has been obtained and a final list of changes is available. Until then, I’m keeping tabs on it. If you’re interested, you can read the committee’s meeting notes here. Let your browser translate the page for you and then search for the word “renaming” on the page. Click on “All news” to see previous news posts. 

None of this should matter too much in your family tree. Ideally, you are recording the historical name of the place and country as it was at the time of your ancestors’ life events, be it imperial, interwar, Soviet, or modern. If you are recording current names or have written narratives of your family’s history using current names, you may have some updates or annotations to make.  

More on this to come as it becomes available. 

# # #

24 February 2024

Remembering the German Settlements in Ukraine


Remembering the German settlements in Ukraine on this day, 24 February 2024. Between 1766 and 1942, Germans lived in over 3,000 places within the borders of Ukraine today, in both urban and rural settlements. Many were established by Germans after 1804. These places—whether they still exist or not, whether their names are the same or not—remain in the hearts of the descendants as one our ancestral homelands.

Slava Ukraini!


# # #

29 December 2023

One Last Update for 2023

So ends 2023. I am happy with the map work completed this year. It all turned out just as I had hoped. 

There have been a few miscellaneous additions and updates to the maps since the last update in October. I wanted to get them posted and documented so they don’t get lost in the sauce.  Here is a rundown: 

  1. The new URL for the Volga German Institute has been updated on the map for places that refer to it. It is also updated on the Sources page. It will take longer to get all the blog posts updated. I am pleased it finally found a permanent domain name that will not change.
  2. All maps have been updated with the new project introduction/tutorial video. In the process, I made a list of descriptions I need to write for the maps that do not have one yet.   
  3. Ten new places were added and one location updated. Additions — Razboyka (Orenberg); Dachniy, Dzhargazar, Friedenfeld, Ivanovka, Kolkhoz International, Kroyt-Dzhaparovskoye, Luxemburg, Novopokrovskoye, and Tokmok (Semirechensk). Updated — Pfeifer (Orenburg). Thanks to Reik Kneisel in Germany for these. His family lived in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, and he provided details for all these places. 
  4. Basilewski (Taurida) was added. The name of this place was discovered in Eugenfeld parish records by Jörg Fischer in Germany. Thanks to Jörg for sending to me. We worked together on finding another colony in the Bergdorf parish in the Glückstal enclave a couple of years ago. 
  5. Klemesch-Chutor (Mariupol enclave) was added thanks to historical maps and other information provided by Derek Lambert. Thanks to Derek for providing such great details. 
  6. Belokuz’minovka (Ekaterinoslav) was added. Thanks to Jim Cole for this one. He had two records (immigration and death) with different spellings, but we were able to find it. 
  7. Albota (Bessarabia) was added. Not sure how I missed this one given that it was a parish, but thanks to Allyn Brosz for pointing it out. 
  8. And speaking of Bessarabia and parishes, I went through and added sources to those colonies that had parishes in the beginning (1814) and at the end (1939). I tried to sort out and document parish splits, although I am not sure I got them all. Some sources list them all, while others list just where they were just prior to WWII. For those places with parishes, there is now a link to a collection of church records translated by Black Sea German Research. They are organized by parish, but fortunately, the translated records are recorded by village name so the parish does not matter much for the Lutheran church records. Just search the page for your village name, or, even easier, use the search box to search for a surname.
  9. All in all, 19 maps (regional, provinces, enclaves) were updated. Yeah, this sounds crazy since you may only use one or two of them, but someday it will all make sense. I promise.

I am still working on the to do list for 2024. Right now, the plans for research next year include the central part of Great Russia, the Far North, and western provinces as I more or less outlined in this post. Not as many Germans as elsewhere, but I would like to fill in what I know so that the map can be used as a teaching tool without any huge gaps in it. I need to get the full survey of provinces with Germans in them in order to move forward with some other work. There is also another round of deportation locations that will go up onto the map, mostly focused on where Black Sea Germans were exiled. 

May 2024 bring you good cheer, good friends, good health, and peace on Earth. I am going to keep wishing for that last one until it finally happens.  


# # #

23 December 2023

Frohe Weihnachten!

Merry Christmas to All and Peace in the New Year.

# # #