The 1820 Inflection Point
A perfect place to start your Ukrainian genealogy research. Or any genealogy for that matter.
Did I mention Ukrainian history is complicated? Reading Gates of Europe left me overwhelmed and confused. How the heck do I start searching for my ancestors in that tangled mess? It turns out I’m not the only one:
As I pondered the immensity of the challenge (it looks suspiciously like wasting time on Twitter) I got a nudge to study the latest General Conference. Not knowing why or what I might find, I chose the talk We Each Have a Story by Elder Gong because it’s about doing genealogy.
A few paragraphs down, Elder Gong says:
The year 1820 seems to be an inflection point in history. Many born after 1820 have living memory and records to identify several family generations.
That’s it, the answer to my dilemma. Instead of picking an arbitrary point to start my genealogical research, I only need to look back 200 years ago. A much more manageable approach.
The Other Don Cossacks
With this in mind, the first thing I did was a Google image search for "Ukraine history 1820". One of the first results was a Wikimedia image of a bearded horseman-warrior named Don Cossack, dated circa 1820.
Searching for Don Cossack on Wikipedia redirects to Don Cossacks. It turns out Don is a place, not a white, middle-class suburbanite male, and Cossacks are a warrior people who lived in various regions of Ukraine including a river named Don.
In another web search, I found this article by Ukraine World that explains it was the Cossacks who spread and popularized the term "Ukraine", which had not been used in the pre-Cossack era, as the name of their territories. Historians consider Zaporozhian Cossacks (depicted in the painting at the top) to be the first purely Ukrainian society.
Looks like the perfect place to start! Or, to put it another way, the Cossacks circa 1820 are the farthest I’ll go back in Ukrainian history to look for my ancestors because they are technically the first Ukrainians.
I hope you found this useful. I’ll have more updates for you soon. If you want to keep in touch, please subscribe to this newsletter and follow @passedandfuture on Twitter.
Until then and always: Slava Ukraini!
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