Ukraine Research Division: Goals for the Year Ahead

Phyllis Gold Berenson, JewishGen’s Director of Ukraine Research, shares this report.

At the JewishGen Ukraine Research Division meetings during the 2019 IAJGS Conference this summer, we discussed the following goals:

  1.  Increase access to more genealogical records.
    • Inventory and make available the subject, current location, and original source of all Jewish records for Ukraine, whether they are now held by JewishGen, on line, in Ukrainian archives, or elsewhere.
    • Continue amassing records from various sources, as JewishGen has been doing for years.
    • Continue the work to download all files placed on line by Alex Krakovsky’s scanning project. We have an excellent team carrying on this work.
    • With guidance from the Routes to Roots Foundation, work with researchers on the ground in Ukraine and elsewhere to discover other records not yet scanned.   
  2. Enhance town project coverage, resulting in more records translated for JewishGen.
    • There are more than 900 towns in Ukraine which have a Jewish past, and we are fortunate to have nearly 300 volunteers who accepted responsibility to coordinate research for specific towns. This includes identifying sources of records, engaging in database projects, and other projects. However, this leaves more than 60% of the towns without any specific focus – so even if Jewish records are available, they have not been identified, nor made accessible. 
    • These “orphan” towns need someone to take an interest in them, but because many of the towns had a relatively small Jewish population, and thus, a small number of Jewish records, it would not be an efficient use of time to recruit coordinators for each town. As such, we are crafting a new strategy, whereby current and future town coordinators will assume responsibility not just for the town they are interested in, but also for a number of surrounding towns that are in close geographic proximity, and often have records stored in one similar archive. 
    • JewishGen has many resources to help interested volunteers get involved. If you would like to learn more, please complete our volunteer application, by clicking the following link:  https://www.jewishgen.org/JewishGen/GetInvolved.html
  3. Explore new ways to acquire and translate records.
    • Remain aware of Alex Krakovsky’s scanning work by: 
      • Uploading every file he posts online to JewishGen, so that they are preserved; 
      • Keeping aware of the path of his project and its future; 
      • Tracking scanners donated to Ukraine archives by our members and the uses of those scanners.
    • Explore new techniques of machine transcription for cursive Cyrillic. JewishGen is actively pursuing developments in this area.

The good news is that we have begun work toward all of these goals. But we require many volunteers to achieve them. We look forward to your input and participation.

If you have questions for me, or would like to connect, I would be glad to hear from you! Please email me at:  pberenson@JewishGen.org.

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