Phyllis Berenson

Alex Krakovsky, a Jewish Ukrainian, is using freedom of information laws and the court system in Ukraine to force archives to allow him to scan their records, as was never before permitted.  He then posts them online to a wiki page, yielding a massive amount of raw data for the Ukraine researcher.  Alex uses high resolution scanning equipment to scan virtually all records in an archive, posting to a wiki just for Jewish records.  He has spent a great deal of time and his own money doing this important work and constantly battling a very difficult government system. He has also received funds donated for purchase of state-of-the-art scanners, which are now in use in most Ukraine archives.


You can access his main wiki page at this URL (use Google Chrome to translate - it is all in Ukrainian):


The Ukraine Research Group, under a team headed by Gary Pokrassa, our Data Acquisition Director, is working to capture and preserve the scanned files on the JewishGen server, which includes Index files for several larger cities including Kiev and Zhitomir, as well as multiple un-indexed records. 


At present we have over 285,000 pages of documents already loaded on our server, but we have less than half of what Alex has already published and he uploads new files every day. We are working hard to catch up to him.  These are massive files which should exceed 1TB of information.


We have several transcription projects underway.  We have selected Kamenets-Podolskiy for a pilot project using metric records from 1875-1888 as posted by Alex Krakovsky, to work with these files using innovative methodology which we hope will be a prototype for future translation projects by just creating our own indexes.  Since the information in index files are very simple, just listing the surname, given name, year and record number, we are going to use a team of people who are fluent in Russian to transcribe (not translate) the names and other information in Cyrillic into a printed spreadsheet and then use the facility on the site to transliterate the names.


This opens up an entire pool of volunteers not previously utilized and will rapidly be able to generate online searchable index records.  The main concern of a researcher is to first find the names and desired records.  Once published, this data will allow a researcher to quickly identify and locate a record of interest; then the actual record can be found on the wiki and can then be translated using ViewMate or other means.  This pilot program is under the direction of Joel Spector and Gary Pokrassa.


We are deeply grateful to Alex Krakovsky for his work and his underlying belief that all archived records should be available and free to the public.  We believe the data he captures and this methodology will be a game-changer for Ukraine research, and will enhance the researcher’s ability to identify and locate records of interest.


 And special thanks to Gary Pokrassa, Joel Spector, and the team for their thorough dedication to preserve these vital data.   

Phyllis Gold Berenson
Director of Research for Ukraine

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