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German Records in the RGIA St. Petersburg

Rossiiskii Gosudarstvennyi Istoricheskii Arkhiv

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The Russian State Historic Archive (RGIA) in St. Petersburg is one of the largest archives in the world and contains many of the records of prerevolutionary Russia. Many Germans did business or worked in Tsarist Russia, were included in Russia because of boundary changes or emigrated to Russia as colonists. The following types of records regarding Germans are kept by the RGIA and can be accessed through the Russian Baltic Information Center - Blitz:

The RGIA has some 300 "Metrical" books of birth, marriage and death records for various Lutheran, Catholic and Protestant parishes. These Metrical books cover the years 1832-1892 and are transcriptions of the actual parish records of the local non-orthodox churches which were required to be sent to St. Petersburg each year.

Unfortunately the collection is not complete and the records for some parishes and some years are missing. The Metrical books are organized by year and are very difficult to search. A successful search the Metrical books requires a knowledge of the year and name of the parish.

The RGIA has records of the "Department of the Changing of Religion". These are records of people who converted to the Russian Orthodox faith. In the case of mixed marriages the children were required to be christened into the Orthodox church.

Passenger lists for steamship companies which transported German colonists to Russia, lists of detachments of colonists arriving from Germany and records of the condition of German colonies in Russia are kept in the RGIA. This large complex of documents includes lists of colonists in the Volga area around 1796.

The RGIA has genealogy materials concerning German families in Ostzeja (the Baltic countries) including a collection of coats of arms. These records document the conferring of Russian noblity and the granting permission to use a title granted by Germany when Germans changed their citizenship.

The RGIA has a large collection of "Service lists". A service list usually contains a great deal of genealogy information including birth, place of origin, education, family, work, etc. Included are service lists of Germans who, in the 18th and 19th centuries, were enlisted to work in the Russian government.

Service lists of German scientists are kept in the Russian Academy of Sciences and service lists for men of letters and artists are kept in the Russian State Archives of Literature and Art in Moscow. Military service lists are kept in the Russian State Military Archive in Moscow and in the Russian State Naval Archives in St. Petersburg.

Documents concerning German stock companies operating in the Russian Empire, societies, schools, suppliers of the Emperor's court are kept in the RGIA.

The RGIA has a large collection of maps of many of the towns and villages of the Russian Empire. Sometimes the maps even have a directory to the buildings shown.

In addition the RGIA contains a large group of private fonds, containing service records and private correspondence. When the banks were nationalized after the revolution the contents of the bank vaults sometimes ended up in the RGIA.

The Russian Baltic Information Center - Blitz conducts genealogy searches using the records of the RGIA as well as other archives of St. Petersburg and Moscow and former republics of the USSR. Blitz provides reports of its findings together with references to the archival documents, xerox copies of archival documents including coats of arms and translations into English.

Blitz will provide a preliminary genealogy search in the Russian State Historic Archives in St. Petersburg for US $80.00 At the conclusion of the preliminary genealogy search we will be able to give you our assessment as the the existience of records of your family and the direction of further research. 

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Russian Baltic Information Center - Blitz
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San Rafael, CA 94901
Telephone: 415-453-3579
FAX: 415-453-0343