Zhytomyr, or Zhitomir (also Shitomir in German), is a Ukrainian provincial capital, seat of the Zhytomyr oblast, but is of immense significance for family historians with German-Ukrainian roots and specifically for those from Ukrainisch Wolhynien. This is the region of Volhynia to the west of Kyiv formerly dense with German settlements and colonies founded during the 19th century. The German population was particularly concentrated in the triangle between the towns of Zhytomyr, Novohrad-Volynskyi (or Nowograd-Wolhynsk, previously known as Zwiahel or Swehl) and Korosten. 

Ukraine operates, in theory if not always in practice, a 75-year “modern era” closure period, meaning that records from before 1936 (at the time of writing) should be on open access in state archives rather than closed, for reasons of data protection and personal privacy, in register offices (known by the acronym RAHS and administered by the Ministry of Justice).  

The state regional archives in Zhytomyr are one of the most efficient and cooperative in Ukraine.  Among their holdings is an important collection of German Evangelical Lutheran parish registers for Wolhynien. These vital records all date from before 1936, of course, and are particularly strong for the period from about 1900 to 1920. The collection is not complete but includes, among others, births/baptisms, marriages and deaths/burials for the parishes of Emiltschin, Heimthal, Radomysl, Tutschin, Shitomir itself and Nowograd-Wolhynsk. There are also name indexes in the archive and a collection of police files which contain biographical information on individual inhabitants. 

The same archive also houses a number of records of interest to those with German Baptist roots, e.g. in Tutschin. 

Bluebird Research offers research services at Zhytomyr state archives and is also able to assist at other locations which hold Wolhynien Lutheran records, such as the St Petersburg archives which hold the bishop’s transcripts for the years 1836-1885 (the original parish registers being lost, only these contemporaneous copies survive). 

Please contact us for a free assessment if you are interested in professional family history research assistance in Ukraine or Russia.

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