Wars, revolution and lack of preservation have destroyed a significant part of Russia’s written records

Each person has a given name, a patronymic and a surname

  • The patronymic usually ends in -ovich for men or -ovna for women
  • Orthodox and Catholic families tended to name children for saints
  • Jews in Russia did not adopt surnames until the government required their use in the early 19th century
  • Many Russian immigrants Americanized their names
  • Dictionary of Period Russian Names

Archives from the former Soviet Union concentrate their holdings according to oblasts (provinces). You need to know both the old and new jurisdiction to search

  • Most records will have to be accessed in person at Russian archives
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