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Jewish Genealogy Society of Maryland

Sunday October 24, 2021
Save the date for our next meeting!
Please join us on Sunday October 24 at 1:30PM for Alex Krakovsky's presentation "Jewish Documents Kept by Ukrainian Archives."

Zoom information will be sent out midweek, the WEEK BEFORE THE MEETING, to JGSMD members.  Note that our new membership year starts October 1.  Reminder to all those sending in dues: please clearly indicate the name of the member and preferred email.

Alex Krakovsky is a Jewish Ukrainian born in Kyiv. He is using the Freedom of Information laws and the court system in Ukraine to force archives to allow him to scan records.  Alex became interested in learning about his roots after his mother’s death in 2011. He found references to his grandfather, whom the family knew almost nothing about in a book and some documents at the archive in Zhytomyr.  He was asked to pay 116,000 hryvnia (about $4,600) for copies of the documents! He refused and continued to refuse until the archives decreased the fee to $2, which he paid. Alex later sued the archive, winning back his $2 plus an additional 100 hryvnia ($4) for the hassle the archive put him through.  

The case also changed Alex's life. With no formal legal training, he has become a litigation machine—a hero of sorts to frustrated researchers and genealogists. Alex has sued more than a dozen archives with the goal of bringing Ukraine’s archives up to European standards. Among other things, he advocates for the publishing of inventories online so that people know what is in the archives. This would also help prevent the illegal sale of archival materials, which he suspects is ongoing. He also agitates for the right to freely photograph documents.

Alex has not lost a single case to date. He often wins, citing constitutional precedent. Recently, he faced his most powerful adversary. Alex filed suit against Ukraine’s Ministry of Justice. The Ministry has the state archives under its wing and issued a June 2018 order barring the copying of documents larger than letter-size, files thicker than 1 ½ inches, old printed books, listings of documents, and basically anything a researcher or genealogist might need to see.

About Alex Krakovsky: Alex was born at a very young age in 1982 in Kyiv. He graduated from the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute in 2005 with a degree in Flexible Computer Systems. He has been actively doing genealogy since 2011.

Alex has been digitizing records in Ukrainian Archives, including Jewish metrical books and other vital records, school records, revision lists, poll tax censuses, and more. He then posts the records online to a wiki page which yields a massive amount of raw data for those interested in Ukrainian research. Alex uses high resolution scanning equipment to scan virtually all records in an archive. He has spent a great deal of time and his own money doing this important work and he is constantly battling a very difficult government system. Alex has received donations for the purchase of state-of-the-art scanners, which are now in use in most Ukraine archives.
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News Tidbits

JGS Maryland has been reconstituted!
JGSMD had its initial meeting on Sunday August 18, 2013 to see if there was interest in the group's reconstituting. The turnout was overwhelming, with 31 people attending with only a few days' notice. Look forward to new programming over the next year!
Some of the attendees:

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