Research in the Library of Congress, Washington, DC

The Library of Congress in Washington, DC a valuable resource of genealogical and historic information. Most genealogists know about Russian business directories, titled Vsia Rossiya (All of Russia). Their value has been described, among others, by Harold Rhode and Harry Boonin in several AVOTAYNU articles. Nevertheless, these directories are still underused by the genealogical community.

The Vsia Rossiya directories allow researchers to achieve, as a minimum, the following:

1. Trace family name anywhere in Russia.
2. Verify that a family has lived in town(s) and districts of interest.
3. Discover new or augment existing information about ancestral families.
4. Find information when other archival sources are not available.
5. Assist in planning research in the former Soviet archives.

For those who cannot visit Washington D.C. in person or cannot read Russian, FAST offers to research several editions of the directory. There are five sets of Vsya Rossiya in the LOC, for 1895, 1899, 1900, 1902, and 1911-1912. The 1899 set contains listings by sorted by industries-provinces- towns-districts. The 1902 set contains listings by provinces-towns-districts-industries. The listings present a reader with an amazing socio-economic snapshot for each town. Even if there are no surnames of interest, these listings (we usually copy all pages for a given province, or Guberniya in Russian) present an invaluable contextual reference source.

In addition to the Vsya Rossiya, other sources for a given town/region are checked, when time permits. They may include a collection of several hundred telephone books for many formerly Soviet cities, early 1900's Russian city directories, Russian-Jewish sources such as Russian language Jewish Encyclopedia of 1906, and the LOC city map collection. Every research project has a potential for a new discovery, as the Research Report Example demonstrates.

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