SOMERSET, N.J. – Have you ever wondered from which village or town your Ukrainian family came? What was life like in Ukraine and in Poland? How far back can you trace your ancestors? Why did they leave, and what was life like for them when they arrived in their adopted homeland in the United States, Canada, Western Europe and elsewhere?
Nashi Predky (Our Ancestors) wants to offer a special place both online and in Somerset, N.J., where second-, third-, fourth- and fifth-generation descendants of Ukrainians can trace their roots, learn more about Ukraine and network with their peers.
The family history group is hosted by the Ukrainian Historical and Educational Center of New Jersey (www.UkrHEC.org). The center’s museum and archives have one of the premier collections of artifacts and documents in the U.S. relating to Ukrainian history, culture, and the Ukrainian American immigrant experience.
Since 2012, the center has offered sessions on Ukrainian genealogy at the center. In 2014, a regular program was established with the help of Michelle Chubenko Tucker, a professional genealogist with Ukrainian, Hungarian and Native American roots, and Mike Buryk, a free-lance family history researcher, writer and speaker on Ukrainian and Lemko genealogy and history.
Nashi Predky has held three well-attended conferences in the last two years on topics ranging from archival sources in Poland and Ukraine to DNA testing for genealogy. Past attendees have come from the New York metropolitan area, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Connecticut, Minnesota and Canada. This spring’s workshop featured an overview of Ukrainian American history from a genealogist’s perspective, and information on Polish regional archives.
In conjunction with the center’s archivist Michael Andrec and museum director Natalia Honcharenko, Nashi Predky group volunteers are initiating a number of special projects. This includes an effort to help Ukrainian churches in the U.S. digitize their baptismal, marriage and death records so that these valuable sources of information can be made more available. In addition, they hope to conduct a digital inventory of prominent Ukrainian cemeteries such as St. Andrew’s in South Bound Brook, N.J. Such information could be very useful for family history researchers looking for extended family members and distant relatives outside their own local communities.
Nashi Predky will hold its next full-day conference on Saturday, October 24, in Somerset. Online registration will begin in early July. For the latest updates, visit hwww.ukrhec.org/family-history-group. You can also find much useful information and discussions on the Nashi Predky group on Facebook: www.facebook.com/groups/NashiPredky/.
Mike Buryk is a Ukrainian American writer whose research focuses on Lemko and Ukrainian genealogy and the history of Ukrainians in the United States. He is a founding member of Nashi Predky, a Ukrainian genealogy and family history group. You can contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org. His website is: www.buryk.com/our_patch/.