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

Stephen Katz

A few years back I was pleading, without success, for the powers that be to pay attention to records from Novograd-Volinskiy (Zvhil). This important town was largely ignored when it came to translation and other projects. The excuse I always got was along the line of, "so many towns, so few resources."  Now I see that, for the new pilot project, Kamenets-Podolsky has been chosen. Now, I've got nothing against Kamenets-Podolsky and I wish the "pilot project" well, but this gives me an opportunity to renew my plea for something, some time, to be done involving records from Novograd-Volinskiy.
I do recall that some time ago there was a project to identify records from N-V, as the starting point for obtaining and translating them. After it got started, I heard nothing further. What ever happened to that project??

Stephen KATZ
KATZ (Novograd-Volinskiy (Ukraine)), TEPPER (Rovno (Rivne) (Ukraine)), KAPLAN (Stakliskes (Lithuania)), VITKIN (Kaunas (Lithuania)) 

Stefani Elkort Twyford

Thanks to Phyllis Berenson for pointing out all the valuable work that Alex Krakovsky does for the Ukrainian reseachers.
This has not been easy for Alex. It seems that ever archive throws up illegal roadblocks to scanning by either Alex or others. He's spent the past few years taking each archive to court and while he has been winning, it doesn't seem to deter the Ministers from concocting new and ridiculous impediments to archive access.

Alex recently reached out in a video on Facebook, asking for Jewish researchers and Jewish Genealogical Societies to send him letters in support of his work that he can show to the archive managers in Kiev.  I am encouraging each of you to take a moment and send Alex an email at alexkrakovsky@... telling him why access to the records is so important to you and your JGS. Here is a copy of the letter I sent him. Feel free to edit it to meet your needs:

I am the president of the Greater Houston Jewish Genealogical Society. GHJGS has over 50 members who have been actively working to find records of their ancestors, many who come from former Russia and now part of current day Ukraine. Because of the numerous pogroms against Jews and wars, we are aware that many archive records were destroyed. But we are also aware that there are numerous archive records that remain; some moved around and relocated to other archives. 
Because of our physical distance from Ukraine, we have been dependent on researchers in each locale finding, photographing and transcribing the records for us. Alex Krakovsky has been most helpful to thousands and thousands of our US based researchers for the work he is doing in the various archives in Ukraine. We understand that he continues to face censure as various archives claim he is violating privacy act. Keep in mind that the records we are researching are mostly at least 100 years or more old and there is no one alive today that could be compromised by these archives being published.
Likewise, I also do volunteer work for an organization which is an international genealogical group that is working diligently to find, copy and transcribe records for the hundreds of thousands of researchers who are hoping to traces of their ancestors in the towns their families once called home.
I hope you will reconsider your blocking of Jewish records to all of our researchers. It is quite important to us and we hope you will help us in our quests.
Best wishes,
Stefani Elkort Twyford
Greater Houston Jewish Genealogical Society 
Stefani Elkort Twyford
Researching: Siegal/Segal, Spiel, Tarle, Ilkovics, Feiermann, Kronenberg, Szerman, Kletzel, Ricker/Ricken


Alex has scanned a number of records from Novograd-Volinskiy. These are the ones I found looking through the list, but there might be more

  • 118-14-0354. 1874-1882 Census of Jews of NV uezd
  • 118-14-0221. 1862-1868 Additional census of Christians and Jews of NV uezd
  • 118-14-0209. 1858 Additional census of Jews of NV uezd
  • 118-14-0207. 1858 Census of Jews of NV uezd
  • 118-14-0197. 1850 Census of Jews of NV uezd
  • 118-14-0187. 1834 Census of Jews of NV uezd
  • 118-14-0172. 1816-1827 Census of Jews of NV uezd and additional census
  • 118-14-161. 1811 Census of various areas of NV uezd (might or might not contain Jewish records)
  • 118-14-0202. 1858 Census of Christians and Jews of NV uezd
  • 118-14-195. 1853-1856 Additional census of NV uezd (might or might not contain Jewish records)
  • 118-14-181. 1834 Census of Jews of NV uezd
  • 118-14-319. 1862-1863 Additional census of Jews of all uezds of Volyn gubernia

Vital Records of NV Jews (births):
  • 67-3-597. 1866, 1868-1873
  • 67-3-598. 1874-1878
  • 67-3-599. 1879-1883
  • 67-3-607. 1909-1911
  • 67-3-606. 1905, 1907, 1908

Susi Godfrey

On Tue, Dec 17, 2019 at 08:22 PM, Stefani Elkort Twyford wrote:

Thank you  for the nudge and your email as a template.  I have sent one to Alex.

Gary Pokrassa

I would like to bring to everyone's attention an excellent article about Alex K just published which is the best summary of his situation and issues I have seen

It can be accessed at:

Gary Pokrassa
Data Acquisition Director
Ukraine Research Group