|Frequently Asked Questions|
Credit Note: Text below is mostly taken from interview questions asked by John Pihach for an article appearing in the Spring 2002 issue of the East European Genealogist (Vol. 10. No. 3). Posted with kind permission of Chris Bukoski, Chief Editor.
What is your policy regarding access to archival material by foreigners?
According to the new National Archival Law adopted in December 2001, foreigners have the same rights to access and use of the national archival records and the same obligations as Ukrainian citizens.
Is there a specific time span before records are made available to the public?
The archival records are available to the public from the time of their acquisition; however, if the documents contain personal information, then access is restricted for 75 years, according to law. In this event, a person (or relative) whose interests and rights may be violated must give written permission to access these records.
What is the relationship between the State Archival Service of Ukraine and the oblast archives?
State regional (oblast) archives and state archives of cities of Kyiv and Sevastopol are structural subsections of local bodies of executive power - State oblast administrations. These archives preserve documents of the National Archival Fund (NAF), which have local significance, and execute functions of local governing bodies in archival affairs and records management on the oblast (city) level.
At the same time, local State archival institutions are an integral part of the State archival system and the oblast archives are subordinate to the State archival service. The Archival Service is providing the normative and legal basis for these archives, ensuring their scientific/informational and practical activities, organizing the formation of the National Archival Fund, state registration, calculation and preserving of its documents, usage of archival information, and in general, controls their activity according to legislation relating to the National Archival Fund and archival institutions.
What is the system of ZAHS offices throughout Ukraine?
The system of RAHS (registration acts of civil state [formerly ZAHS]) state archives is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine and is based upon the same structure as the state archives system under the State Archival Service. There are district (raions) archives of RAHS, city archives and oblast archives.
The network of RAHS archives numbers over 700 institutions. They work as structural subsections of the local administrations of justice and exist in each administrative-territorial unit (oblast, district, city) in districts of Kiev and Sevastopol'.
Is there a specific time period after which records are transferred from a ZAHS office to the state archive?
The RAHS's archival system holds their records for 75 years. After this time period, according to law, all documents must be transferred to the state archives. At this time (2002), the RAHS archives have holdings not earlier that 1925-1927. This rule was confirmed by the latest normative document entitled The Rules of Work of Archival Subsections of State Power Bodies, Local Self-government, Enterprises, Institutions and Organizations, confirmed by the order of State Archival Service of Ukraine from March 16, 2001 and registered by Ministry of Justice of Ukraine on May 8, 2001.
Sometimes an individual book covers many years. For example, birth records in small towns. Therefore, until the last year included in the book is more than 75 years old, the book remains in the ZAHS office.
Are there other archives in Ukraine beside the State Historical archives and the oblast archives that hold documents that could be useful for genealogists?
Yes, in addition to the two national historical archives (Central State Historical Archive in Kyiv and the same in Lviv) that include unique sources reflecting the national history from ancient times (since the 12th century) until 1917 (in Kyiv) and 1939 (Lviv), there are other archives useful for genealogists:
Additionally, there are family papers, and other genealogical records in archival divisions of major libraries under the Academy of Sciences of Ukraine in Kyiv and Lviv; scientific libraries in Odesa and Kharkiv; archives of the academic institutes of archaeology; art studies, folklore and ethnology; literature. Many personal papers and photos are kept in the manuscript divisions of museums.
Are there any restrictions or requirements for genealogists who want to research records in Ukrainian archives to discover their ancestral past?
Genealogists included among the ordinary users of the Ukrainian archives. They have the same rights as all other users. However, there is the 75-year restriction on private records, so the user must have permission from the person who ordered the research about his ancestral past. The research process in RAHS archives is regulated by the Ministry of Justice.
Should researchers with roots in Ukraine expect to find genealogically useful records in the archives in Moscow and St. Petersburg? For example, where would the czarist (Imperial Russian) army records of soldiers from the Ukrainian gubernias be?
Of course, the National Archival Fund of Ukraine does not contain all information about citizens and other peoples who lived in Ukraine. Many records including military, census, merchant's and nobility of the 18th – 19th centuries are held in the former Central Archives of USSR (now Federal Russian Archives), including:
A comprehensive two-volume guide by Patricia Kennedy Grimsted was published in 2000: "Archives of Russia: A Directory and Bibliographic Guide to Holdings in Moscow and St. Petersburg." An abbreviated and updated version is available in electronic form: ArcheoBiblioBase Archives in Russia.
See also the Russian website for archives and archival affairs throughout the Russian Federation: (in Russian).
What procedures should be followed by someone who wants to obtain information from Ukrainian archives by correspondence? What is the fee structure for research conducted by archives? What is the present situation regarding methods of payment?
Someone who wants to obtain genealogical information by mail, contact the contact list of archives including postal addresses, e-mail addresses, tax numbers of Ukrainian State Archives.
The inquirer should write to the appropriate regional archive and provide the following information:
In his inquiry, he should provide the following information:
Each inquirer should be prepared to sign an individual research agreement with the State Archive.
The research fee depends on the time and complexity of research and is determined by the general price list (Prejiskurant; see: Information Bulletin of State Archival Service of Ukraine entitled Visnyk derzhavnoho komitetu arkhiviv Ukrainy, No 4(8), 2001; full text in Ukrainian). In General, the average fee for an uncomplicated research does not exceed $500 (excluding copy costs). Payment of fees are by bank (wire) transfer to the State Archives' account or by mail remittance. An alternative payment method may be a wire money transfer to a charitable foundation associated with the State Archives or to the account of the Society of Ukrainian Archivists (24 Solomians'ka Street, Kyiv, 03680). Please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Has the State Archival Service of Ukraine any plans to publish an inventory of metrical records?
The publication of archival guides is part of the State Archival Service of Ukraine publishing activity and is among the first priority tasks. Since 2000, we have launched an extensive publication program entitled Archival Repositories of Ukraine with two sub-series, one is Archival Guides (Putivnyky) and another is Special Reference Books (Spetsialni Dovidnyky), i.e., different directories, inventories, surveys, catalogues etc. (for more information see above mentioned Visnyk, No 4, 2000; in Ukrainian).
There are some recently published guides within the first series, i.e., "guides of the new generation", including:
The main distinctive feature of the new series' guides is the full list of archive's fonds and collections included in each of them (this was absolutely impossible during the Soviet times). Visitors can view summaries and contents of these guides at our website (www.archives.gov.ua). Electronic versions (in a database form) soon will be available through the Internet.
While preparing to visit Ukrainian archives one should consult the available guides (in English), for example,
For the last ten years, archivists in Ukraine have been cooperating with the Routes to Roots Foundation, Inc. headed by Miriam Weiner to compile a town-by-town inventory of archival documents available in a searchable database (at no cost to inquirer). Since May 2002 this database is posted at the foundation website: www.rtrfoundation.org. This website includes extensive information about our archival documents as well as several chapters written by Ukrainian archivists.
Many visitors to Ukraine who are interested in their roots have never been to an archive. What advice can you give them so that their research can be effective and so that they are not a burden to the archive staff? If visitor comes to 24 Solom'ianska Street, how can he or she proceed from there?
There is no special reception. The simple way to proceed from the door at 24 Solom'ianska Street is to ask for assistance from the security officer.
There are two central state archives in the building (Central State Historical Archive of Ukraine in Kyiv, Central State Archive of the Higher Organs of Power and Government of Ukraine) and another one in a separate building inside the court at the same address (Central State CinePhotoFono Archive of Ukraine).
If I come to the archive to do this research personally, is there an archivist fluent in English who can help me?
In many larger archives, there are archivists who speak English, but they may not be available to assist researchers because of their other duties. In any event, they could only spend a brief amount of time during the research process. If the researcher is not fluent in Russian/Ukrainian, they must provide their own translator for the research process, preferably someone who is experienced with archival research.
In the archives, are there any indexes to records or finding aids in English?
Unfortunately there are no finding aids in English. You should ask someone in the archive for (limited) assistance in translating the available materials or bring your own translator.
Where can I find a town-by-town inventory of archive documents, in English?
The only known town-by-town inventory of archive documents in English is the book by Miriam Weiner "Jewish Roots in Ukraine and Moldova: Pages from the Past and Archival Inventories" (Secaucus, NJ/New York, 1999). Please view the Routes to Roots Foundation website (www.rtrfoundation.org).
Do the archives hold documents that relate to particular religious groups, for example, Jewish records?
Yes, there are many records that relate to religious groups The comprehensive survey of church archives in Ukrainian repositories will be published on our website soon in a chapter "On-line Resources" (on Ukrainian website). The main groups of Jewish records in the archives of Ukraine are listed in Jewish Roots in Ukraine and Moldova (see above).
What is the actual process for a researcher upon arrival in an oblast archive?
The process is the same as in the central archives in Kyiv and Lviv. The visitor is asked to complete a registration form in the reading room, then place an order for indexes or books from the archival library. Usually, it takes less than one hour to receive indexes, surveys or books from the library. Major guides and many inventories are available in the reading room and are accessible immediately. The specific files of documents requested will be delivered next day or the time may be shortened, if possible, to accommodate the visitor's schedule. However, the general procedure is to deliver actual files of documents or books the day after the order is placed.
Please note there are new Rules of work of reading rooms in the state archives of Ukraine adopted in 2001 (full text in Ukrainian).
Is it possible for the visitor to bring his own electronic and photographic equipment to the archives (including laptop computers, scanners, portable copy machines, cameras, video cameras)?
According to the new Rules (since 2001) the only restriction regarding equipment are items that may damage documents (scanners or portable copy machines) because of the unique medieval documents or book bindings. In any event, the researcher is requested to consult the specialist in the reading room before using this equipment. Any other equipment (including laptop computers, cameras and video cameras) is permitted. Visitors who plan to use equipment that operate on both battery and electricity, should be prepared to use the batteries rather than electrical outlets.
We would like to encourage visitors to come to our archives. There are very skilled and qualified people, most of them working as archivists for many years, so any request will be met by staff with extensive knowledge and experience. Younger archivists have some language skills that would be helpful for those who do not speak Ukrainian or Russian. We are doing our best to help researchers and visitors.
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