If you have searched for a birth certificate, marriage license, or death certificate, you know that many localities didn’t start keeping these types of records until the late 1800s or early 1900s. These government records of vital events are called Civil Registration Records.
Family Search has a collection of Revision Lists (Census Records) that were microfilmed at the Samara Archive in 2003. These records are generally for settlements on the Wiesenseite (east or meadow side) of the Volga River. This collection includes Volga German Village revision lists for years from 1850 - 1862. Initially, the images were only available on microfilm. Eventually the images were digitized and made freely available to anyone who can access the Family Search web site (a free account is required to view the documents).
I recently noticed a page on the Family Search web site about Russian Revision List images for Volga German Villages. I thought that would make a good topic for a blog post, but realized that to put those records in context, I needed to provide more general information about Russian Revision Lists.
A few years before Catherine the Great invited colonists to settle in the Volga region, King Fredrick V of Denmark invited colonists to settle in Schleswig-Holstein. Many of the colonists were unhappy in the Danish colonies and emigrated to Russia when given the opportunity. Wayne Bonner has done extensive research on these colonists and has given presentations on this topic for AHSGR. With Wayne’s permission the following is reprinted from the introduction to one of his presentations:
How do you prove exactly where in Europe your ancestors lived before they migrated to Russia? We know that we can't rely on the place names given in the published translations of the First Settler's Lists because those are sometimes inaccurate. The best proof of your ancestors' origin location is to find them in the church records of the location where they resided prior to emigration.
Klaus Peter Decker has written a number of books about the history of Büdingen and the Isenburg region. Of primary interest to Volga German genealogy researchers are the two books about the emigration of individuals and families from the Büdingen area in 1766:
Büdingen als Sammelplatz der Auswanderung an die Wolga 1766 (published in 2009); and
We call ourselves "Volga Germans". While most of the settlers in Volga (and later Black Sea) villages were German, there were also settlers from other European countries. Many settlers in Russia were French, or came from French-speaking areas of Europe. Some of these French settlers were Calvinist or Reformed Protestants (Huguenots) who fled religious persecution in France.
My last blog post discussed the marriages, births, and deaths that occurred while the emigrants destined for the Volga region gathered for their journey. I'd like to provide two specific examples of how this data can be used to help confirm an origin location, and to identify pairs of siblings who went to Russia.