Who We Are
The turn of the 20th century saw a massive emigration of native Romanians, Ukrainians, Germans, Poles, Jews and other nationalities of people from Bukovina, at that time an overpopulated crown land of Austro-Hungarian Empire, mostly to Northern and Southern Americas. Descendants of these emigrants are scattered all over the world. Most of them bear distinctive Bukovinian family names, but are dimly aware of their Bukovinian background. After emigration both those who remained and those who went away did their best to keep in touch. With the passage of time and of the first generations of emigrants family memories and ties became weaker. Life goes on, new people and cities take their place in our lives, but for those who are interested to pay a visit to this area and learn more about the history of their ancestors we are here to do our best in helping them rediscover their Bukovinian branch of family and the history related to it. This territory had had a dramatic and special history that was shared by all ancestors of those who have origins in this area. We offer: professional genealogical research, sightseeing, tour guides, family reunion arrangements, translation services in Chernivtsi Region, Ukraine.
What follows are some of the most frequent questions I have to answer from time to time and the answers I usually give. So here are some answers to some questions that are meant to explain what we do and how we do it.
1. What other details related to a family besides basic information about dates and names can be discovered in registries available at archives?
Strictly speaking these records should contain only the basic information and serve as proof that on a given date a given event took place. But these were filled in by people and not machines, so here and there you might see a comment that sometimes is extremely insightful. Working with archival materials like birth, marriage and death records we might find out a lot of other interesting information regarding the life your ancestors lead here prior to leaving the Bukovinian territory for good. In most of the cases you might turn back in time up to that moment when they decided to go and reconstruct many details that framed their life here. Things like did they live on their own after their marriage or did they share the same small rural hut with their in-laws and parents? Was your great-grandmother the only wife or there were some other spouses? You might find out how many brothers they had, if there were any step-parents or brothers. You can infer something about what lives their parents and brothers lead here after your ancestors went for the New World. You can even find out what were the names of their best family friends. What other children did they have before emigration that didn't survive and are not mentioned anywhere but in death records... What illnesses your ancestors suffered from, what date did they get married, how many weddings were on that day etc. A lot of other unknown and surprising details and coincidences might come up. Life conditions at that time were much different than we might even imagine. Families were big with lots of children, any trifle infection might prove fatal, so many people died young, it wasn't unusual for someone to remarry several times not because of the divorces but because death took away their spouse much earlier than it was expected. But the life went on like it always does and the fact that you are reading these lines is the best proof of that.
2. Why would you need a genealogical research when social networks seem to be full of people bearing your family name that are from this area and sometimes even from the very villages you know your ancestors came from?
You might give it a try and it might work out pretty well but you have to be cautious. Don't rush to share all of the family details you know until you get some details from your "prospective virtual relatives". It's better to get more details from them and compare it to what you've got to see if it corresponds to their family background. If you have some pictures of family that were made at the time of your ancestors’ departure ask your internet-discovered relatives if they have any and compare yours and theirs. There are chances for you to get into a scam and caution is never too much, besides without having these details confirmed there always will be the embarrassment of doubt while getting in touch with someone who might not be related to you. For most of cases the family or last names mean nothing in terms of kinship here. Most of the last names have little history to them and were given at random when the issue of ID documents became a necessity. There were a lot of peasants without any last names so their last names were invented by officials either in accordance with someone’s profession or were derived from their parent's first names. Because of that in Eastern Europe there are lots of last names that are the same. Even some 60 years ago people used almost no last names at all. There was another system of distinguishing relatives that was based on the mention of someone's parents. The names of several latest ancestors were used after someone's first name exactly like in Bible, something like "John the son of Stephen who is the son of Peter". If that wasn't enough the family nickname was used to explain it more precisely. The families were known mostly by nicknames that are hundreds years old. Even now if you want to find something about someone from an older person you have to know the traditional nickname that family has in the village and mention some of that person's most immediate male ancestors. The nickname system is even better than the last names system because it views a family as a whole, females married to other families and people with other last names are easily traced down to their origins and linked to the main family. The last names system is rarely based on nicknames, unfortunately for us researchers and fortunately for the members of a given family. These nicknames for most of the cases have a derogatory word at their origin. There was usually some sort of a historical mistake that made a given family distinctive from others so by applying a nickname to a family the co-villagers are reminding them about an event that might have happened hundreds of years ago. These nicknames are ironic for most of the times or mocking, but sometimes they are derived out of admiration. There could have been someone really generous or brave in the family that gave his family a nickname that became awarded to them like a badge of honor. But still it's extremely impolite to use a family nickname in presence of those who bear them. Everyone knows that their family has a nickname and knows what it sounds like but pretends to know nothing about it. Sometimes a lot of villages have just several common last names usually derived from the nickname of the founders of that village so there might be a lot of people with the same first and last names in the same village, sometimes dozens of them of different ages who are totally unrelated. It's difficult to make your pick who is related to you and who isn't if you approach your family from social networks. The genealogical research shows convincingly and without any doubt who is your kin and who is not at all. When it comes to meeting the relatives they are also moved to know that you are a cousin from a given aunt or uncle whose picture might be still hanging somewhere on the wall. For many years people didn't have any interest in their ancestors so at best somebody still remembers the name of their grandparents or great grandparents. The genealogical research done by us helps them rediscover their relatives living in the same village as well.
3. Why would you need to employ a genealogical researcher in Ukraine if there are enough of them doing the same thing in Northern America?
It's basically the same thing to employ someone here or someone in Northern America. Here and in Canada or USA we work exactly with the same set of records. The Latter Days Saints Church made an exact copy of the records preserved in Chernivtsi and other state archives in Ukraine so you can evenyou can even research it on your own either at their church or order some microfilms related to the villages of your interest. But if going on your own take into consideration that these are filled in either Romanian or Ukrainian in Old Church Slavonic handwriting. Even for someone fluent in a modern variety of these languages such historical scripts can pose a good deal of difficulties. A researcher from Ukraine can lead the research further in the native village, find out the nicknames of given families, meet the descendants and arrange for your stay here. When it comes to your modern relatives the genealogical researchers from USA and Canada are limited to older records that are not subject to Ukrainian personal data protection acts. Births records dating from 1940 are denied to research and public access. So you get stuck with a genealogical tree that ends somewhere in 1930-s. What became after that and how the family evolved might be discovered either by interviewing the elders and then the descendants directly or working in the local authority offices. If you have a research that was performed in Canada or USA and have the genealogical tree but it is missing modern relatives I'm willing to proceed with the second phase of research. Interviewing in the native village and finding the exact living relatives.
4. Is there any possibility of a mistake, that is, a wrong branch of the family to be researched?
Yes, there is always such a possibility, it might happen if the data you supply me, the one I get started with is insufficient. Sometimes it happens that in the same year in a village the birth of two or more persons with the same first and last names were recorded and these are totally unrelated. But if you have at least some data about their parents and brothers this possibility is totally ruled out. Austro-Hungarian bureaucracy was extremely efficient so there are lots of safeguards they made to avoid such confusion. There are many other details you should pay attention to. An experienced and careful researcher will never make such a mistake.
And among the last but not the least question is
5. What basic information do you need to get started on a genealogical research on my family in your area?
The first and the last name
of the person that emigrated, obviously and the most important is the exact place of birth. It might sound strange but the date of
birth is sometimes one of the least required. Actually it is
extremely important but it happened to me that dates of birth that are known in
a family don't match with those in the books. An explanation of that would be
that people those days didn't pay much attention to dates and years like we do,
even the parents knew the birthdates of their children with a great deal
of approximation. While making emigration papers it's not excluded that these
approximate dates were filled in. The dates supplied by respective
emigrants and their immediate relatives. The dates in the books are the real
ones recorded immediately after a child was baptized. Because of that extremely
important are the parent's names and the names of brothers and sisters if not
of all of them at least of several that remained here anything about immediate family background, the more the better. Sometimes in the case of a
rare last name a minimum of additional information is enough, but
sometimes all possible information might be required.
6. Regarding the use of some or other materials from this website.
There is no confidential information on this website and it is meant to be public and shared. While setting it up I've tried to avoid some of the most common and copy pasted information available elsewhere, so most of the information you'll encounter here is mainly related to some of my own observations and research, either published or unpublished elsewhere but here. If you find some information useful or interesting the citation of this website is extremely welcomed. I'll regard this as your support of my efforts to spread the word and promote this website. Most of the pictures used on this website are watermarked with a copyright sign exactly for this very reason, just few are taken from free domain and are free for use by anyone under Creative Commons Atribution License. You are free to distribute and use any pictures you like from this website but preserving the copyright watermark of those that have it is welcomed. In case you need some pictures without the watermark just let me know and I'll send you a copy.
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I am a local researcher from the Chernivtsi area of South-Western Ukraine with a PhD and expertise in Ukrainian and Romanian history and a keen interest in the past of this area. While doing my PhD I developed an expertise in local archival materials and at the same time became very interested in my own family roots.
Genealogical records aren't the only sources of historical data that I'm interested in, but are among the most insightful. I regularly do on the ground research at various local sites but also work with other colleagues ranging from professional historians and experts employed at Romanian, Ukrainian and American universities and museums. My interest in local history has since developed into a professional endeavor.
who is fluent in Russian, Ukrainian,
Romanian and English. It is important to realize this area has long been a transition region between the great historic powers including Polish Commonwealth, Hungary, Ottoman Turkey, Russian Empire, Austro-Hungarian Empire. This has resulted in a multitude of languages and local dialects being spoken here. As various languages have come in and out of favour, even official records and documents may be recorded in a wide variety of languages. As a result, I can provide a one stop service whereas other local companies may require engaging multiple researchers. At the same time where required I can access and bring in other colleagues as required.
I graduated with a BA in English Language and Literature, then I pursued a masters degree course in South-Eastern European History and finally obtained a PhD related to the history of interethnic relationships in Northern Bukovina (actual Chernivtsi Region of Ukraine) area. At present I'm co-authoring an ethnographical book on traditional customs in this area. As a historian I'm professionally interested in Antiquity and Middle Ages history of Romania and Ukraine. I keep in touch with my colleagues, university professors and researchers from Bucharest, Suceava and Cluj-Napoca, Romania, Chernivtsi National University, Ukraine and University of Illinois, USA.