Whether you’re completely new to Latvian genealogy, or whether it is something that you’ve been doing for awhile, it seems like there’s nothing that strikes fear in people’s hearts like learning that some of their ancestors’ records are in Russian.
This is a point at which so many people stop. Give up any hope of being able to read them. Investigate any other avenues to find the information. Just because Russian looks so intimidating.
But here's a question - do you speak perfect fluent German? Perfect fluent Latvian? For some of you, the answer could be yes. But I’d venture to guess that for most of you, the answer is no. But that doesn’t prevent you from searching the German or Latvian records to find what you’re looking for, does it? (If it does, it shouldn’t! I have other courses that can help with that.)
Russian shouldn’t be any different. A lot of people are intimidated by Russian because it is written in a different alphabet. Or because they’ve read that Russian is one of the most difficult languages to learn. But neither of those should worry you if all you’re looking for from Russian is being able to read genealogical records.
This is where I have several pieces of good news for you.
#1 - You don’t have to learn Russian to understand genealogical records written in Russian. That is, you don’t need to master the language. You don’t need to learn to speak it or understand it being spoken. You just need to be able to read some of it - enough to pick out names and places, and keywords. That is ALL.
#2 - Russian handwriting is a lot more straightforward than other handwriting. Think about the handwriting you’ve seen in your life. There are a lot of letters that people write in different ways, right? And you’ve certainly seen that in the Latvian and German language records too. But you don’t see as much of it in Russian - Russian letters have far fewer variations than German, Latvian or English handwriting.
#3 - Once you get the hang of it, written Russian is a million times easier to read than written German. If you’ve already been going through the old church records, you’re definitely scratching your head at some of that handwriting. Not just because the words are unfamiliar, but because the handwriting is really awful. Russian handwriting can sometimes also be messy, but not nearly as often. Once you know the words you’re looking for, the clearer Russian handwriting is so much easier to puzzle out.
So with that in mind - welcome aboard! Don’t be afraid. Don’t be intimidated. We’re going to go through the different letters, how they’re written, how to recognize keywords, and by the end of the course, you should be ready to take on all the Russian records you’ve been saving up for a rainy day.