Black Sea Germans
History[edit | edit source]
The Black Sea Germans were ethnic Germans who left Germany in the 18th and 19th centuries and settled in South Russia, near the north coast of the Black Sea.
Germans began settling in the Black Sea area as early as the late 18th century, however, the large majority of Black Sea Germans arrived following Tsar Alexander I's invitation in 1804. The Black Sea German colonies can be broken down into five main geographic areas: Bessarabia, Crimea/Taurida, Dobrudscha, Ekaterinoslav (also spelled Jekaterinoslaw), and Odessa. Although many research principles and record types are similar, each area is unique. Read research guides, available through Black Sea German Research, to learn more about resources available in your specific area. See links below:
Black Sea Research Guides
Published Records and Indexes[edit | edit source]
In order to access published records and indexes for Black Sea Germans, you must first understand a bit about where your ancestral hometown was located and which religious and political jurisdictions existed at the time that your ancestor lived there. These jurisdictions play an important role in record keeping and preservation. To learn about how you can determine the religious and political jurisdictions for your ancestor's hometown, please see the Germans from Russia Gazetteers page.
Because many Germans from Russia genealogical records were kept in either German or Russian, indexes are a great place to start. There are four main record types: compiled genealogies, church record indexes, revision list indexes and Einwandererzentralstelle (EWZ, or Immigration Control Center) indexes.
Compiled Genealogies[edit | edit source]
Before beginning your genealogical research in the Black Sea area, it is important to see what research has already been performed by other family members or researchers. After consulting your own family sources, turn to online compiled genealogies to discover research performed by others. Investigating this research allows you to prevent duplication, collaborate with others and connect with your family. However, keep in mind that information included in these sources is secondary information and will require research in original records to verify the data.
- Black Sea German Database: This database is an excellent first step in searching for your Germans from Russia ancestors. To access the database, visit http://www.blackseagr.org. The Black Sea German Database is available on the right-hand side of the main page. You can search using just the first and last name or click on Advanced Search to search using other information including gender, birth/christening, death/burial and spouse’s last name. If no results are found, adjust the search terms by trying alternating spellings, or selecting options such as “contains,” “starts with” or “ends with” from the drop-down menu. Sort through the search results and make note of new or additional information. Be sure to pay special attention to the sources the researcher used to build their family tree – these citations not only provide credibility, but they can help you locate the original records later in your research. For a deeper discussion of the Black Sea German Database, and how to contribute your own data, consider reading “Q&A on Using the Black Sea German Database.”
- Online Trees: You may also find it useful search public member trees on online databases such as FamilySearch Family Tree, Ancestry ($), MyHeritage ($), Geni, or other similar sites.
- Village Coordinators: Many German colonies have village coordinators, or individuals with extensive knowledge of a specific colony and often know about common families and/or surnames in the area. Village coordinators can be located through genealogical societies or a web search.
Church Record Indexes[edit | edit source]
Two of the major religions in the Black Sea area were the Catholics and the Lutherans. Understanding the religious jurisdictions (consistories and dioceses) will help you locate church records.
Lutheran Jurisdictions: In 1819, all Lutherans in Imperial Russia were united into a single Evangelical Church. Several years later, in 1832, the General Evangelical Lutheran Consistory was formed, which was divided into eight consistorial districts, one of which was the St. Petersburg Consistory. The St. Petersburg Consistory covered the northern, western and southern areas of the Russian Empire – including the Black Sea region. All Black Sea Germans will be included in the St. Petersburg Consistory. Records were kept by individual parishes and duplicate copies were sent to St. Petersburg. The St. Petersburg duplicate church book records are available online. They have been partially indexed. https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/1469151
Catholic Jurisdictions: Black Sea Catholics, on the other hand, were members of the diocese of Mogilev, which was formed in 1772. The Mogliev diocese served the entire Russian Empire and later became an archdiocese in 1782. In 1849, the Diocese of Kherson was created. It consisted of the gubernii of Saratov, Samara, Kherson, Ekaterinoslav, Taurida, Astrakhan, and Bessarabia. The Russian Orthodox Church was opposed to a central diocese located in Kherson, so the diocese was moved to the small city of Tiraspol and the Diocese of Kherson became known as the Diocese of Tiraspol. For more information about Catholic jurisdictions, please see http://www.blackseagr.org/research/church-catholic.html and http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14739a.htm
Church record indexes for both the Lutherans and Catholics are available through the following sources:
- Black Sea German Research: The Black Sea German Research website is an excellent source for research in the Black Sea area. To locate church record indexes, visit http://www.blackseagr.org. Under the Research tab, select one of two options: Area/town/village specific or Church/Parish. An entry with a red asterisk (*) indicates that the item has recently been added to the website. The site is updated regularly, so be sure to check back often for new information. Clicking on the underlined link will open up a PDF which can be searched using the Ctrl-F feature. To use this feature, simply press the keys Ctrl and F (or Command and F for Mac users) at the same time and a search box will appear. Type what you are looking for in the search box and it will locate the corresponding text on the page.
- Area/town/village specific is divided up into several different geographical areas. Underneath each heading, you will find links to indexes and records available for specific towns or parishes within the area
- Church/Parish is a list of available church and parish registers in Germany, Russia and the United States.
- Odessa Digital Library: Visit http://www.odessa3.org and from the main page, select Collections. Church records can be found under the headings Bessarabian Collection, Church Records, or St. Petersburg Archives.
- The Bessarabian Collection is a great tool for research in Bessarabia. Within the Bessarabia Collection are several folders. Click on the name of a town/parish to access indexes or try searching the Bessarabian Index – an index of Bessarabian church records.
- Church Records contains links to parish register indexes primarily in the United States; however, there are a few records from German colonies. Check to see if your locality is contained in this collection.
- St. Petersburg Archives contains indexes from the Lutheran Duplicate Church Book records collection in St. Petersburg (Lutheran). This collection is organized by region.
- Russia, Lutheran Church Book Duplicates, 1833-1885: Duplicates of records kept by individual Lutheran parishes were sent to the consistorial office in St. Petersburg. These duplicate records were stored in the Russian State Historical Archive of St. Petersburg and are now indexed and available through FamilySearch. To access this indexed collection, visit http://familysearch.org/search/collection/1469151. Search for your ancestor using identifying information such as first and last names, or birth, marriage and death information. This collection is only partially indexed and does not reflect all the duplicate church book records available through the Family History Library. If you are unable to find your ancestor, they may not have been indexed yet. Try searching the Odessa Digital Library St. Petersburg Archives indexes (mentioned above).
- FamilySearch Family History Library: The Family History Library has a large collection of resources available to assist you in your Germans from Russian research. Search the catalog by visiting http://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog. In the place box, type in the name of your village, and select the corresponding entry from the drop-down box. Use English, Russian and German spelling variations as well as any alternate names you found throughout your previous research in online sources and gazetteers. Church book indexes can be found under the section entitled Church records – Indexes. These books may be available at other locations – check http://worldcat.org or contact your local public or university library.
- Village Coordinators: If your ancestor’s town has a village coordinator, contact them for more information about locating church record indexes. They may have personal copies or can direct you to where to find them.
- Web Search: Use a search engine such as http://www.google.com to search for church record indexes. Type the [name of village or parish, Russia, church records] into the search box.
Revision List Indexes[edit | edit source]
Revision lists (revizkiye skazki) are some of the most important records for Germans from Russia genealogical researchers. Revision lists were tax lists created by the Russian government to identify taxpayers. There were ten revisions, or enumerations, taken sporadically between 1719 and 1858 and German colonists in Russia were included in many of the later revisions. Like U.S. censuses, these records list each member of the family and provide names, ages and relationships. These records are oftentimes referred to as census lists. These records are written in the Russian language; however, some records have been transcribed and translated. These translations are made available through online resources and published works.
- Black Sea German Research: This site has several revision list indexes available. To access census indexes, visit http://www.blackseagr.org and from the main page, select Research followed by Area/Town/Village Specific. This section is organized by area. Find the heading for your area and look for entries that contain “census.”
- Karl Stumpp, The Emigration from Germany to Russia in the years 1763 to 1862, (Lincoln, Nebraska: American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, 1982), FHL 943 W2sk1978: Nicknamed the “Stumpp Book,” part two of this reference book includes indexes of revision lists in the Black Sea area, although it does not have complete data for Bessarabian colonies. Revision list entries begin on page 499 and are organized by region and then alphabetically by town. This work is available at the Family History Library reference shelf or online if you are using a computer in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. To learn more about using this book to locate your ancestors, read “Q&A on Using the Stumpp Book.”
- Black Sea German Russian Census: Supplemental to the “Stumpp Book,” (Bismarck, North Dakota: Germans from Russia Heritage Society, 2003), FHL 947X28 v.1. Also known as the “Stumpp Supplements,” these reference book includes revision list indexes for areas not included in the original Stumpp book. Volume one includes indexes for the Odessa-area villages and is available at the Family History Library reference shelf or may be available at a library near you. Volume two includes revision list data regarding Bessarabian villages.
- FamilySearch Family History Library: The Family History Library has a large collection of published transcriptions of revision lists. Search the catalog by visiting http://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog. In the place box, type in the name of your village, and select the corresponding entry from the drop-down box. Use English, Russian and German spelling variations as well as any alternate names you found throughout your previous research in online sources and gazetteers. Revision list indexes can be found under the subheading Census. If you are not able to visit the Family History Library, check http://www.worldcat.org or contact your local public or university library to find published indexes.
- Black Sea German Database: If an online census index is not available and you are not able access the books described above, check to see if your ancestor is included in the Black Sea German Database. Revision list information may have been added as a source from someone who had access to these works.
- Genealogical Societies: Revision list transcriptions may be available to purchase through major genealogical societies such as the Germans from Russia Heritage Society (GRHS) or the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia (AHSGR). Although both have great sources available, GRHS tends to focus on Black Sea Germans more so than AHSGR.
- Village Coordinators: Contact your town’s village coordinator to see if they have any information regarding revision list records. Village coordinators can be located through a web search, or through genealogical societies.
- Web Search: Use a search engine such as http://www.google.com to search for church record indexes. Type the [name of village, Russia, census or revision list records] into the search box.
Einwandererzentralstelle (EWZ) Indexes[edit | edit source]
EWZ stands for Einwandererzentralstelle, or the Immigration Control Center. EWZ records were created between 1939 and 1945 as ethnic Germans escaped the Soviet Union to resettle in Germany. EWZ records contain a wealth of information including forms that contain names, birth date and place, last place of residence, names of parents and/or children and their birth and death dates as well as a pedigree chart. Additionally, certificates including passports, other forms of identification and birth, baptism and marriage records are often included in these files. The original EWZ records are available at the National Archives, the Family History Library or the Germans from Russia Heritage Society, but indexes are accessible online. To learn more about EWZ records, read “EWZ Questions and Answers.”
- Odessa Digital Library Visit http://www.odessa3.org and from the main page, select Collections. On the top of the page, select Full Text Search. Type the surname into the box labeled Query String. Under Data Category, select War Records and then click on Submit Query. Information indexed varies, but will typically include a name, date, location and reference to the original microfilm. To view the complete index and column headings, click on the blue hyperlink above the desired index.