Most of the providers that have joined Genlighten so far perform lookups at repositories in the United States and Canada. From the feedback we’ve received, that’s a good fit for the majority of our users. But we’re well aware that many of you need lookups performed on the other side of the Atlantic, too. So this week we’re spotlighting one of our Eastern European providers: RusGenProject.
From RusGenProject’s profile:
Kirill Chashchin is currently preparing a book on Imperial Russian genealogy research. He’s also building a reference website covering the same topic. He blogs about the project here.
He specializes in research at repositories and archives throughout the former Soviet Union, including the countries of Russia, Ukraine, Byelorussia, Moldova, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Armenia, Kazakhskan, Kirgizstan, and Uzbekistan and the cities of Moscow, St Petersburg, Kiev, Odessa, and Minsk.
Nine Questions With RusGenProject
1) How did you get started doing genealogy lookups/research?
It was about 10 years ago. I somewhat decided that I need to find ten generations of my ancestors. It was a personal challenge which took a couple of years and several thousand kilometers of travel to complete. This turned out to be fun. It matched wonderfully my lifetime passion for problem-solving. Then I started helping others.
2) Do you have a genealogy superpower? If so, what is it?
I think I can easily read 100-200 years old handwriting in most of local languages. I can do it fast and can easily switch from one language to another. Another very helpful trick I like to do is to find an exact location from the short pieces of data usually available to the researcher. Finding the history of particular village and the location of the records is a task I like to do and do easily.
3) Describe a tricky research problem you’re particularly proud of having solved?
Last year I received a request to find information on the person who was a german prisonner of war in USSR after the WW2. I was very doubtful something can be found — the rarity of the request and the reputation of the archive to be very “secretive” on POWs led me to believe this is a kind of dead end in research. I was very surprised to receive the e-mail from archive stating the personal file is available and describing complicated but doable procedure to actually get a copy of it.
4) What are the ideal elements you like to see in a well-formulated lookup or research query?
Names/Dates/Locations. The more you put in those three items the easier are your chances to find something. Getting at least the rudimentary knowledge of the area you are researching is also very good. I frequently quote this wikipedia article to people who send me their ininial requests — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guberniya . Thinking about the administrative-territorial division and its history is very good for the researcher.
5) What’s the most interesting record source or repository you’ve utilized in your area?
Strange, but the Russian historical Library in Moscow, Russia with its very extensive genealogical collection is a very helpful place for plenty of research. They have city and phone directories for the number of places large and small of Russian Empire and USSR.
6) What technical tools do you use to produce the digital images you provide to clients?
Just a scanner. GIMP for simple image editing. I do believe that you need to provide the better available image quality. Scanning, emailing, storing and editing 10MB picture is no longer a problem. You might have something interesting on the page which you might miss in the low resolution.
7) Any new lookups you’re considering offering?
I might consider archive lookups in almost all the Moscow city archives, but it is frequently a procedure requiring a lot of time and effort. Just to get a “document not available” answer.
8) What advice would you give to someone who wants to get started as a lookup provider?
Get to know how archive works. They have their communications codes allowing them to make a “friend-or-foe” determination on the fly. Learn to use those codes.
9) What other passions do you pursue when you’re not doing lookups/research?
I am professional fraud examiner at http://sepmc.com specialising in international frauds, forensic accounting and computer crime. I am an old big fan of large database analysis and visualisation. I like to hear classical music concerts.
Lookups RusGenProject offers:
Kirill offers lookups covering Russian Empire Nobility. He can search Moscow City Directories and Moscow Necropolis tombstone inscriptions. And he provides translation services for both Russian and Ukrainian genealogical documents.