Journal of Undergraduate Research


moscow, internship program, archive systems, genealogical research


Harold B. Lee Library


My summer in Moscow was amazing, but not what I expected it to be. Rather, it was filled with unexpected but wonderful surprises and changes along the way. The original plan was to secure an internship in a Moscow archive in order to learn more about how archive systems functioned and along the way, gather information about taxation and property records. Unfortunately, upon arrival in Moscow, internship coordinators working in conjunction with the BYU Moscow Internship program were unable to secure an archival internship for me. They insisted that due to feelings of ill will between the United States of America and the Russian Federation, Russian archives would not be willing to accept an American student as an intern. Although an archival position was not available for me, the internship coordinators were able to locate an internship at the Международный Генеалогический Центр (International Genealogical Center). The МГЦ is a Russian-owned genealogical research company located in Moscow. They do client work, archive look ups and create beautiful family history books complete with stories, families trees and document images. Working as an intern at the МГЦ was an amazing learning experience for me. Each day, I had the opportunity to participate in one-on-one private lessons with professional genealogists there. We examined common record types including metrical (church) books, the 1897 census, and the famous revision lists, which are a staple source in Russian genealogical research. We also examined Soviet records, studied Russian paleography and practiced using archive catalogs and guidebooks to locate records. Using skills I had learned at BYU and solidified through my internship experience at МГЦ, I located some possible taxation records in a Moscow Archive. Unfortunately, each time I called the archive, I was passed around from department to department, each one referring me to the previous department. Some of my Russian friends believe that I wasn’t able to get into an archive because of my American citizenship. It also may have been because the FIFA World Cup was held in Moscow this summer, and as a result, security in many places was tightened. Although I wasn’t able to visit an archive, the skills I learned in Moscow this summer were invaluable.