Learn Cyrillic



A different alphabet and old-style handwritten script seem daunting, don’t they? But learning the Cyrillic alphabet, which is used for the Russian language, is a vital skill in researching your Black Sea German ancestors.

Tsar Alexander I’s promises to German immigrants coming to this region was that they could continue to use German in their churches and schools. So, of course, German was the language initially used in church records for recording births/marriages/deaths. 

This changed in the 1880s under Tsar Alexander III, who repealed the promises made to the German colonists. This included forcing them to learn Russian in school, and ultimately requiring all records to be kept in Russian. By around 1892, most of the Lutheran church records had converted to Russian. 


Catholic records converted to Cyrillic much earlier, beginning in the 1840s. By the 1850s, Catholic records had all converted from German to Russian written in Cyrillic.

Learning to read the Cyrillic alphabet will help you find your ancestors’ data in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These easy tools will help you find your way through these records.


* Reading Cyrillic script (a primer)

* Cyrillic aids which includes Russian alphabet, family words, months, occupations, numbers, common first names, and colonies noted in Nikolaev archive materials.

* Cyrillic - first names