Germans from Russia Church Records

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Germans from Russia
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Alexanderwohl Church.jpgAlexanderwohl Mennonite Church in Goessel, Kansas
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Alexanderwohl Mennonite Church at Goessel, Marion, Kansas was built by families who migrated from the Netherlands to West Prussia, to Molotschna in South Russia, to Kansas.
Church Records

Many churches keep records of baptisms, christenings, confirmations, marriages, burials, memberships, admissions, and removals. Some keep minutes of church meetings and the histories of their local churches. Each church has its own policies on record keeping.

A limited amount of church record transcripts of Germans from Russia are available via computer network. See the “Archives and Libraries” page of this Wiki article for more details. Edlund, Thomas Kent. The Lutherans of Russia: Parish Index to the Church Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Consistory of St. Petersburg, 1833-1885. St. Paul, Minn.: Germanic Genealogical Society, 1994. (FHL book 947.2 K23e 1995; on 5 fiche 6001716) which unindexed images are now available on the Internet a Record Search. Describes the contents of Family History Library collection of Lutheran parish register transcripts for the provinces of Alaska, Archangelsk, Bessarabia, Chernigov, Cherson, Don Cossack, Jaroslavl, Jekaterinoslav, Kiev, Kostroma, Novgorod, Olonets, Pokolia, Poltava, Pskov, Smolensk, St. Petersburg, Tavrida, Volhynia, and Vologda. Indexes town names in: Evangelische Kirche. Konsistorum Petersburg (Rußland). Kirchenbuchduplikat, 1833-1885 (Parish Register Transcripts, 1833-1885). Salt Lake City: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1994. (on 135 FHL films starting with 1792290). Text in German. Arranged by archive numbers and register years.

Records for some of the above listed Ukrainian districts have been extracted and indexed on the Odessa3 website. The Society for German Genealogy in Eastern Europe has extracted and indexed Kiev and Podolia regions and has updated and corrected Volhynia extractions previously posted on the Odessa3 site. This work is in progress with large portions completed. Originals of the records for all the above listed districts are now available to view on line by LDS members or on a computer in a Family Search Center Library using the Family Search website (Enter "Asia", then Russian Lutheran Church Book Duplicates).

Records from churches in the Volga River district are kept in Saratov, Engels, Samara and Volgograd Archives. Some Catholic church records for years 1875-1917 are found on LDS films 2376721 to 2376728. The American Historical Society of Germans from Russia works with a Dr. Pleve to extract family lineage charts from those records with significant cost and long wait periods associated with the project. Full details are on their website.

The Evangelical-Lutheran marriages in Smolensk 1834-1870

Smolensk became the home of many German officers, bureaucrats, merchants, craftsmen and just before WWI many farmers. They founded a church in 1857. In the year 1862 the parish of Smolensk had 403 parishioners. In 1941 there were three volumes of church records still in existence:

1. Births 1834-1917

2. Marriages 1834-1918

3. Deaths 1834-1918

All registers, except the birth registers were then in good repair. Entries were made in German until 1891, from 1892 to 1918 the Russian language was used.

The author, Roland Seeberg-Elverfeldt, made a list of all marriage entries between 1834 and 1879, which he did in 1941. Mr. Seeberg-Elverfeldt remarks that not all marriages were performed in Smolensk but as far away as Moscow and St. Petersburg.

A complete listing of entries between 1870 and 1918 was not feasible in the author's opinion because the congregation was no longer purely Germanic (volksdeutsch). He points out, though, that the death registers are of great worth because the entries reveal a place of origin of the deceased.

Among the FHL films of the St. Petersburg Lutheran Consistory, of which the Smolensk Lutheran Parish was a part, records for seven years are totally missing. The article by the above author provides information of marriages for six of these seven years. Frequently, Mr. Seeberg-Elversfeldt lists a marriage or two more than the films show.

There are two different formats of marriage records on the film. Firstly, the main marriage records contain first and last names, civil standing, occupation, origins and names of fathers of bride and groom. Secondly, there are also lists giving only the first and last names of those getting married and reference numbers to the main marriage registers which do not exist on films after 1853. Mr. Seeberg-Elverfeldt's article gives the complete information of the main registers from 1834-1870, frequently augmented with information from birth and death records.

The article "Evangelisch-Lutherische Trauungen in Smolensk 1834-1870" appeared in Archiv für Sippenforschung, Jahrgang 19, Heft 5 (1942), starting with page 97. The periodical can be retrieved through FamilySearch, FamilySearch Catalog, call number 943 B2as.


Three important repositories are:

  • Mennonite Heritage Centre
600 Shaflesburg Rd
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3P 0M4
In 1966 they filmed all the Mennonite records in Odessa for the southern Russian Empire, including revision lists.

  • Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies in Canada
169 Riverton Ave
Winnipeg, Manitoba R2L 2E5

  • Mennonite Library and Archives
Information and Research Center
Box 366
North Newton, KS 67117

The following book provides background information:

  • Benjamin Heinrich Unruh, Die niederlandisch-niederdeutschen Hintergrunde der mennonitischen Ostwanderungen im 16., 17., und 19. Jahrhundert (The Netherlands-Low German Background of the Mennonite Migration to the East in the 16th, 18th and 19th Centuries) (Karlsruhe: Unruh, 1955). Text in German. A history on the Mennonite movement into Russia; provides lists of families according to the town in Russia where they settled and time period, including in many cases birthplaces in Germany or Poland.