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.
- Russian Archives has contact information for all archives and links to each archive’s website, if one exists. The website is in Russian.
- Russian Empire Jurisdictions
- Free database containing descriptions of Russian archive holdings.
- The Russians to American Passenger Data File, 1834-1897
- LI-RA-MA collection holds Jewish, Ukrainian and Finnish immigrants’ passport applications and questionnaires from 1898-1922.