Ukraine Church Records

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For information about records for non-Christian religions in the Ukraine, go to the Religious Records page. Also, see Ukraine Jewish Records.

Online Resources and Websites[edit | edit source]

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

Religion in Ukraine is diverse, with a majority of the population adhering to Christianity. A 2018 survey conducted by the Razumkov Centre found that 71.7% of the population declared themselves believers. About 67.3% of the population declared adherence to one or another strand of Orthodox Christianity (28.7% of the Kiev Patriarchate, 23.4% state simply 'Orthodox' with no declaration as to which Patriarchate they belong to, 12.8% of the Moscow Patriarchate, 0.3% Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, and 1.9% other types of Orthodoxy), 7.7% 'Christian' with no declared denominational affiliation, 9.4% Ukrainian Byzantine Rite Catholics, 2.2% Protestants and 0.8% Latin Rite Catholics.

As of 2016, Protestants make up 2.2% of the population of Ukraine, with a strong concentration in western Ukraine (5.3%). In the country there are communities of Evangelicalism, Baptists, Charismatic Christianity, as well as Methodists, Mennonites, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and others. There is also a Sub-Carpathian Reformed Church with about 140,000 members, which is one of the earliest Protestant communities in the country. The Embassy of God of Sunday Adelaja maintains a significant presence throughout the country, as do other neopentecostal groups.

As of 2016, there are 2,973 Evangelical churches, 2,853 churches of the Baptists, 1,082 Seventh-day Adventist churches, 128 Calvinist churches, 79 Lutheran churches, 1,337 churches of Charismatic Christianity, and 1,347 other organizations belonging to the Protestant spectrum (including 928 Jehovah's Witnesses halls and 44 Mormon [Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints congregations]. In total, as of 2016 there are 9,799 registered Protestant groups in Ukraine.[1]

Availability of Records[edit | edit source]

Vast holdings of church records for Ukraine are preserved in archives today. The church records are primarily from 1721 to 1917. Contrary to popular belief, church records were not systematically destroyed in the former Soviet Union, but they were centralized and preserved in government archives.

Many Christian churches existed in Ukraine for which records exist today, including Russian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Greek Catholic (Uniate), Lutheran, Mennonite, Armenian Catholic, and some others.

Church records for many areas have been microfilmed by FamilySearch and some have been digitized. Many other websites have also published indexes of church records. See below for links to selected online resources for church records and church records indexes. For information about microfilm records available from FamilySearch, search by place in the FamilySearch Catalog.

Metrical Books (Parish Registers)[edit | edit source]

These records can be used to uniquely identify individuals and link multiple generations over time. Transcripts are difficult to research because generally all parishes in a district are filed together for each year. Consequently, a researcher must refer to many volumes to identify the entries for a single parish.

These church records were kept by parish priests of births/baptisms, marriages, and deaths/burials. The term is also used to refer to the records of denominations that had jurisdictions other than parishes. The Church acted as both a religious and civil agent in recording vital events and church sacraments such as baptism and burial. Peter the Great mandated the keeping of Orthodox church registers in 1722. The format was standardized in 1724. Printed forms were introduced in 1806. In 1838 a format was introduced that prevailed until 1920 when civil registration began. Roman Catholic, Greek Catholic, and Evangelical Lutheran books may exist for earlier dates than Orthodox records. The priest made a transcript for the ecclesiastical court (dukhovnaia konsistoriia) having jurisdiction. Jewish transcripts were filed with the local town council (gorodskaia duma). Old Believer and Baptist transcripts were sent to the provincial administration (gubernskoe upravlenie). The distinction between the original and the transcript is often ignored by Ukrainian record keepers.

In general, records begin approximately at these times: Orthodox, 1722; Greek Catholic, 1607; Roman Catholic, 1563 (transcripts begin in 1826); Evangelical/other Protestant, 1641 (transcripts begin in 1833); Muslim, 1828; Jews, 1835; Old Believers, 1874; Baptists, 1879–all to about 1930.

Records can be found at the state archives and civil registration offices. Population coverage varies by time and cultural group. Earliest records cover about 70% of the population, 90% from about 1830 through the destruction of most churches in the 1930s, 50% among minority religions and dissident groups such as Old Believers and Baptists.

In 1825 the Holy Synod, the governmental body over the Orthodox Church, ordered bishops to eradicate bribery of priests to falsify the books, suggesting that this problem existed. Ethnic minorities avoided registration to avert military service later in life.

Confession Lists[edit | edit source]

These records contain lists of members of orthodox parishes attending Easter confession. Attendance at confession and communion was required of the family members over the age of seven. These records can be used to identify family groups and person's ages. They are easier to use than the revision lists because they include all classes of society. They are also a metrical book substitute. Sometimes they are interfiled with metrical books in a record group or collection. Records begin in approximately 1723 and were kept until about 1930. Records can be found at the state archives.

The lists contain the name of the head of household, family members (including children not attending confession), their ages and relationship to head of household, residence (number of house or other identification), and whether or not they attended confession.

Information Recorded in the Records[edit | edit source]

Different denominations, different time periods, and practices of different record keepers will effect how much information can be found in the records. This outline will show the types of details which might be found (best case scenario):

Baptisms[edit | edit source]

In Catholic and Anglican records, children were usually baptized a few days after birth, and therefore, the baptism record proves date of birth. Other religions, such as Baptists, baptized at other points in the member's life. Baptism registers might give:

  • baptism date
  • the infant's name
  • parents' names
  • father's occupation
  • status of legitimacy
  • occasionally, names of grandparents
  • names of witnesses or godparents, who may be relatives
  • birth date and place
  • the family's place of residence
  • death information, as an added note or signified by a cross

Marriages[edit | edit source]

Marriage registers can give:

  • the marriage date
  • the names of the bride and groom
  • indicate whether the bride and groom were single or widowed
  • their ages
  • birth dates and places for the bride and groom
  • their residences
  • their occupations
  • birthplaces of the bride and groom
  • parents' names (after 1800)
  • the names of previous spouses and their death dates
  • names of witnesses, who might be relatives.

Burials[edit | edit source]

Burial registers may give:

  • the name of the deceased
  • the date and place of death or burial
  • the deceased's age
  • place of residence
  • cause of death
  • the names of survivors, especially a widow or widower
  • deceased's birth date and place
  • parents' names, or at least the father's name

How to Find Records[edit | edit source]

Digital Copies of Church Records in the FamilySearch Catalog[edit | edit source]

Watch for digitized copies of church records to be added to the collection of the FamilySearch Library. Some records might have viewing restrictions, and can only be viewed at a Family History Center near you, and/or by members of supporting organizations. To find records:

a. Click on the records of Ukraine.
b. Click on Places within Ukraine and a list of towns will appear.
c. Click on your town if it appears, or the location which you believe was the parish which served your town or village.
d. Click on the "Church records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
e. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the listing for the record. FHL icons.png. The magnifying glass indicates that the record is indexed. Clicking on the magnifying glass will take you to the index. Clicking on the camera will take you to an online digital copy of the records.

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

You will probably need to write to or email the national archives, the diocese, or local parish priests to find records. See Russian Letter Writing Guide for help with composing letters. This Wiki article might come up completely translated into English. Use your browser to return to the original. The guide will then show English requests on the left and their Russian translation on the right. Because the Russian alphabet is used, cut and paste the sentences you wish to use in your letter.

Contacting Archives[edit | edit source]

Most of the records of genealogical interest are organized into Central State Historical Archives for each province (oblast) of Ukraine. The offical web-portal of the State Archival Service of Ukraine is Archives of Ukraine. This site is available in English and provides links to the web pages of individual archives in Ukraine, with contact information, information about holdings, and other information about using the archive. Online catalog information about holdings varies from archive to archive, with some providing more detail about the contents of their collections than others.

Writing to a Local Church[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Religion in Ukraine", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 20 April 2020.