The Kulberg Lists

By Maggie Hein | January 31, 2021 | Russian Records

I will refer to the Kulberg Lists in many future blog posts, so I think it would be a good idea to explain what those Lists are and why they are important for Volga German genealogy research. 

As many of you already know, Katherine the Great issued a Manifesto in 1762 inviting foreigners to settle in Russia.  A second Manifesto, offering more incentives than the first, was issued in 1763.  Five colonies were established in the Volga region in 1764, eleven colonies were established in 1765, and twenty colonies were established in 1766.  In 1767, the large number of settlers arriving in the Volga region resulted in the formation of 68 new Volga German colonies that year.  The individuals and families reported on the Kulberg Lists correspond to this last group of settlers.

The colonists who settled in the Volga German villages in 1767 had arrived in Russia during the previous year.  As the colonists arrived at the port of Oranienbaum (now Lomonosov) in 1766, lists were made by Titular Counselor Ivan Kulberg.  The published lists report a total of 22,711 colonists arriving in 1766, which represents roughly three-quarters of the total estimated number of colonists who traveled to the Volga German colonies. 

The lists are organized by the date that each ship arrived.  The date of arrival, name of the ship, departure port, and name of the skipper are included for most of the arrivals.  The lists report basic information about each colonist family:  the name of the head of household, his profession and religion, his wife’s first name, the names and ages of their children, and the geographic region from which they came.  

In addition to the basic data reported about each family, there are several other reasons that the lists are useful for genealogy research: 

  • The journey from Oranienbaum to the colonies sometimes took a full year.  The conditions were difficult, and many individuals died along the way.  The data reported in the Kulberg lists can be helpful in reconstructing the original composition of a family.
  • Families and individuals who settled in a specific Volga village (or nearby villages) frequently arrived on the same ship together.
  • Groups who came from the same German locality, but settled in different Volga German villages, are frequently together on the same ship.  

The lists have been translated into English, and published along with an English introduction, by Igor R. Pleve.  Pleve’s 2010 publication can be purchased from AHSGRThere is also a Russian (with portions in German) book by Andreas Idt and Georg Rauschenbach that corrects and supplements some of the previously published data.


Koch, Fred C., The Volga Germans, pp. 27-28

Pleve, Igor R., Lists of Colonists to Russia in 1766 – Ivan Kulberg’s Reports, pp. 18-19

Norka web site,

Rauchenbach web site:

© Margreatha Hein, 2021