Volhynia (Volynia or Volyn) is a historic region in the northwestern corner of Ukraine located between the rivers Prypiat and Western Bug, to the north of Galicia and Podolia. Poland lies to the west, Belarus to the north, Russia to the east. It is a region of forests, lakes, and marshlands. In the north are the Pripet marshes, and in the south are the Carpathian mountains. The Volhynian plains have been a gate between Asia and Europe, and a battleground throughout the centuries.
The area has some of the oldest Slavic settlements in Europe. For centuries it belonged to the Lithuanian Commonwealth. It was ceded to Poland at the time of a royal marriage and became part of the Russian empire with the third partition of Poland in 1795. It was divided between Poland and Russia by terms of the Treaty of Versailles in 1920. Poland ceded its section to the USSR in 1939. After World War II, Volhynia remained within Ukraine, a republic of the USSR. Eastern Volhynia passed later to the independent Ukraine in 1991.
Part of historical Volhynia now form the Volyn, Rivne, and parts of Zhytomyr and Ternopil Oblasts of Ukraine, as well as parts of Poland. Other major cities include Lutsk, Kovel, Kremenets, Volodymyr-Volynskyi, and Starokostiantyniv. Many Jewish shtetls (villages) like Trochenbrod and Lozisht were once an integral part of the region.
Immigration to Volhynia
People of many nationalities and religious persuasions have lived in Central Europe for centuries. From time to time, these peoples have immigrated in search of land, economic opportunity, or religious freedom. During the nineteenth century, the industrial revolution prompted even greater migrations. Those who could not afford the trip to the Americas often chose to immigrate east. Immigration to Volhynia gained momentum after two significant events: the abolition of serfdom in Russia in 1861 and the Polish Insurrection in 1863. Because the Russian government did not sponsor immigration to Volhynia, settlers received no benefits or privileges. Subsequent migrations and dislocations shifted people to south Russia, Siberia, Kazakhstan, North and South America, and western Europe.
The ethnic composition in the 19th century consisted of Ukrainians, Poles, Germans (Mennonites: Friesians near Wysozk (Sarny) and Pfalzers near Zhitomir; Silesian woodworkers near Rozyszcze and Luck; porcelain workers from Saxony and Bohemia in Korec; farmers from Pommerania, Posen, and West Prussia near Novograd-Volynsk, Tuczyn, and Rozyszcze; textile weavers from Silesia, Brandenburg, Saxony, and Bohemia in Dubno, Tuczyn, Koretschew, Slawuta), Czech farmers and textile workers came via Silesia and Poland to Glinsk, Dubno, and Luck - 15,000 arrived between 1868 and 1874.
Emigration from Volhynia
United States (Mennonites in Kansas and South Dakota;St. Joseph and Benton Harbor, Michigan; metro Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Forest Park, Illinois, in metro Chicago area), Canada (Winnipeg, Manitoba, and regions to the south; Edmonton, Alberta; Vancouver, British Columbia), the Parana district of Brazil, Siberia and Kazachstan, Germany.
Volhynian Civil Records Indexes
Metryki Wołyń, public registers of Volhynia are being indexed here.