Why So Few Vital records from Buchach, Ukraine? #general

Meron Lavie

Hi all,

I have lots of family >from Buchach, Ukraine (nee Buczacz, Galicia) who
definitely lived there >from at least the early 19th century until the late
19th century; yet I can find next to no records about them in any of the
JewishGen databases - despite the fact that I have very reliable information
about their names, years of birth, etc.

My g/f's family comes largely >from Rzeszow, Poland. One day, she asked if I
could try to find her relatives, so I went into those same JewishGen
databases. Within seconds I had scores of her relatives on my screen from
the early 19th century onward with unbelievable detail: names, dates of
birth, social security number, favorite color, preferred "easy-listening"
station - you name it. And not a relative was missing. This particularly
annoyed me because she isn't even into genealogy.

Now, aside >from my natural jealousy of her having far more dead relatives
than do I, I couldn't understand why the Rzeszow records were so complete,
but the Buchach records were so sparse. Did the Rzeszow town registrar have
OCD and the Buczacz town registrar was a functional illiterate?

Could it be that not all Buczacz microfilms have been entered into the

I'd appreciate getting an explanation for this.

Meron Lavie

Asparagirl <asparagirl@...>

Meron Lavie <lavie@...> asked about the paucity of
genealogical records >from the town of Buchach, in Ternopil's'ka
oblast, Ukraine (formerly Buczacz, in Galicia, Austro-Hungarian
Empire). It's a question whose answers are widely applicable to many
people searching for records >from many "under-served" places.

First of all, Meron is correct that a lot of the vital records from
the town simply don't seem to have survived to the present day.
Miriam Weiner's invaluable Routes to Roots Foundation database says
that very few nineteenth century Jewish vital records are extant for
Buchach. And the surviving twentieth century records >from the town
are, if held in Poland, not public until every record in the
individual volume of the book has passed the 100-year privacy mark (as
per Polish laws), so while they do exist, they're mostly off limits
for the moment, and certainly not microfilmed yet.

But there's more to genealogy than birth, marriage, and death records,
and this is a great example of why. First of all, let's check what
other kinds of records exist out there for Buchach. if you check that
Routes to Roots Foundation database for all known records >from Buchach
-- and here's the link...


...you'll notice that there are other resources that will have names
of inhabitants of the town and may well show relationships between
them. There are items listed ranging >from tax lists to occupation
lists to property owner lists to school lists, held in locations
ranging >from the local Ternopil archives in Ukraine to the CAHJP in
Jerusalem. I would hazard a guess that *none* of those resources have
been microfilmed. There have been many previous posts to this
listserve, articles in genealogy journals, and lectures at conferences
(many of which were recorded over the years and can be purchased
online) about how to use these more unconventional sources of material
for genealogy, and what kinds of unexpectedly terrific information you
might find in there, so don't overlook them.

Next, I would emphasize that not everything is even known to exist in
the first place -- that is, we are all *still* figuring out what
records have survived and in what locations. To use Buchach as an
example again, the SIG/non-profit Gesher Galicia has been running a
multi-year project to inventory, copy, transcribe, and put online many
18th and 19th Century records >from the Lviv archives in its Cadastral
Map and Landowner Records Projects. Researchers for that project are
onsite in Ukraine multiple times a year to find out what records even
exist for certain towns. The 1500+ records Gesher Galicia has been
able to inventory so far, just in the Lviv archives alone (that is, to
first learn that the records exist, and then start to describe their
contents one by one, and *then* to get copies) are online in a
searchable table here:


(I shortened the URL so it wouldn't wrap and cause problems.)

You'll see that there are eleven entries there for Buchach. Four of
those record sets have been inspected and rejected as not likely to be
useful to genealogists. One record set, a map of the town >from 1847,
was inspected but not acquired as the shtetl group for Buchach already
had a copy. Two of the record sets have been acquired for Gesher
Galicia, both of them landowner records for everyone in the town, one
for 1879 and one for 1880. The final four record sets have not yet
been acquired, but >from their descriptions it is clear that they could
be genealogically useful -- but some interested party would have to
put in a request for those records to get copies >from the archives.

Of those two acquired landowner record sets >from 1879 and 1880, Gesher
Galicia has already put the entire 1879 landowners list online for
free on the All Galicia Database (AGD), in September of 2011. Here's
the link to the AGD:


Finally, I would suggest looking for even more unconventional sources
of records. These could range >from libraries in Poland and Ukraine,
to the State archives in Vienna, to the YIVO archives in New York.
Those are not hypothetical suggestions; I know first-hand about
successes in all of those cases. For example, I'm interested in a
Ukrainian town called Kalusz (Kalush) that is about 60 miles (100 km)
due east of Buchach that has almost exactly the same problem regarding
a lack of surviving 19th Century Jewish records. But in the past few
years, we've found records of Jewish tavern owners in Kalusz in a
library in Poland, an 1850 landowners book for the town in the Lviv
archives through Gesher Galicia's Cadastral Map and Landowners
Project, and I now know about even more resources out there that
haven't even been properly indexed yet, nevermind collected and/or
transcribed and/or put online. (One of those resources is the
miscellaneous files of a Chabad rabbi living in Ukraine!) And again,
none of these things are on microfilm.

So, to sum up:

1) We don't know what we don't know (because not everything has been
located or indexed yet)
2) Use sources other than just microfilms and online databases
(because they can give a false impression of completeness)
3) You can find a lot of great information in unexpected places (but
you need to think outside of the box)

I hope this helps, and good luck with your search!

- Brooke Schreier Ganz
Los Angeles, California

Alexander Sharon <olek.sharon@...>

Meron Lavie wrote:

I have lots of family >from Buchach, Ukraine (nee Buczacz, Galicia) who
definitely lived there >from at least the early 19th century until the late
19th century; yet I can find next to no records about them in any of the
JewishGen databases - despite the fact that I have very reliable information
about their names, years of birth, etc.
Buczacz records are available in Warsaw archives, but not all of them
are open to the general public, and this is a reason that with the
notable exception of Buczacz birth records >from 1849 to 1890, that
have been added to the JGFF system(s) during the duration of Jewish
Records Indexing - AGAD Project, the other records were not available
for the folks working on this Project for incorporation.

Warsaw based USC Srodmiescie (Registry Office Warsaw Downtown Branch)
lists the following records for Buczacz in their archives:

Birth Records: 1891-1942
Death Records: 1900-1915, 1917-1942
Marriage Records: 1907-1914, 1917-1939

As you can see, with small windows during WWI, Buczacz records are
complete, and available in USC archives.
Reason that records 100 years old and over have been transfered to
AGAD, is that all records and new once are mixed, one have to wait
till at least till 2039/2042 to see documnts transfered to AGAD
Archives to became availble to the general public.
But it should not stop you to communicate directly with Warsaw USC
Srodmiescie in order to obtain needed documentation.

Archiwum Glowne Akt Dawnych
00-263 Warszawa, ul. Dluga 7
tel: (22) 831-54-91 do 93
fax: 831-16-08
email: sekretariat@...


Alexander Sharon,
Calgary, AB

Mark Halpern

Dear Meron:

The only Buczacz records at the AGAD Archives in Warsaw are 44 supplemental
(or delayed) registrations >from the years 1849 through 1890. The vital
record registers for those years have not survived.

The Warsaw civil records office (Urzad Stanu Cywilnego) appears to hold the
following records: 1891-1942 births, 1907-39 marriages,and 1900-42 deaths. I
do not know if these are the original books of records or just more
supplemental registrations. I suspect that the birth records are
supplemental. These records at the civil records office are protected >from
public use by regulation. You can acquire an official extract of a record if
you can provide enough information for them to find it (year of birth, name
of subject. names of parents, etc.). However, this extract does not provide
all the information on the record.

To really determine the type of records (actual or supplemental) that the
civil records office holds, I suggest that you write to them with your
detailed request. The email address I have is usc@....

I wish you success in your search.

Best regards.
Mark Halpern
JRI-Poland AGAD Archive Coordinator