How can I research famliy members from the Volyn area (Ratno, Kovel, etc). that emigrated in the late 19th and early 20th Century to the US? #ukraine


My family tree does not go back any further than the US at the moment as I cannot track my relatives into their native lands, which were held by Russia, Prussia and Poland at various times. 
Not sure how I can research them.  We have Kempers, Millmans, Chaiets, Bluts, Zuckers, Pens and Jacobs in our line .  

Can someone help point me to where I might further the research?

Thank you,
Steve Millman


Steve - 

As far as I am aware there are virtually no surviving Jewish vital records from Kovel and Ratno.

You can use Miriam Weiner's website Routes to Roots to search for records about the towns you are interested in: Make sure to use the Daitch-Molotkoff Soundex matching for best results.

This suggests that the most significant surviving 19th century collections for both Kovel and Ratno might be census type records dating from the early 1860s - probably Books of Residents. These are housed at the State Archives of Zhitomir Oblast. I would recommend hiring an experienced genealogist or researcher who can read Polish/Russian. Alex DENISENKO is one recommendation - he is based in Lviv. 

You might also find this site useful:

Hope this helps.

Best wishes,

Naomi Leon
Brighton, UK

LEWKOWICZ, RYWAN, LASKY, BERGER, WRON, FAJBISIEWICZ (Rawa Mazowiecka, Aleksandrow Lodzki, Lodz)

Bruce Drake

As another researcher mentioned, records are sparse for Kovel. A reesearcher named Alex Dunai (aidunai@...) did find records for my ancesters from there here:
List of the documents studied in the state archive of Zhytomyr oblast :
1.Revision list 1858 for the town of Kovel ( fond 118, opys 14, file 122) 
2.Supplementary revision list 1862 for the town of Kovel ( fond 118, opys 14, file 319
3. Supplementary revision list 1865 for the town of Kovel ( fond 118, opys 14, file 79) 
4.Payment book of  volatile taxes* arrears for Kovel county 1904-1915 ( fond 118, opys 21, file 402) 
(Source: state archive of Zhytomyr oblast.Fond 118, opys 21, file 402, page 61 ) 
You also might see if my Kovel Kehilalinks page is any help:

Bruce Drake
Silver Spring MD


I was able to ascertain the names of great grandparents born in the "old country" in the mid-1850s by looking at USA marriage certificates for my grandparents.  I found one grandmother's "maiden" name on my father's and uncles' birth certificates in 1907-1917. 

Naturalization papers helped me find the origins of both sides of the family.  
Barbara Sloan
Conway, SC


Check into the Kovel group on Facebook.

Joel Ackerman
Jerusalem, Israel