Answered By: Staff Archives and Special Collections
Last Updated: Jul 13, 2016     Views: 52

We do have some. We have microfilm copies of the Church records that are at the Library of Congress. The over 400 microfilm reels are in our Alaska collection on the second floor. Their call number is BX497.A4 R87. There's another set, with call number BX497.A4 R871 that consists of 11 reels and there might be some overlap between the geographic areas these two sets of microfilm cover. Also: there are so many reels of film that they've been moved to the end of Alaska collection, after the call numbers that start with Z and before the shelves that hold the oversize Alaska materials. Sometimes they get re-shelved back in the BX area so you might need to check both places.

You don't necessarily have to go through all 400 reels of that main group of records to find what you are looking for, though! There's a print guide to the microfilm with call number BX 497.A4.A47.1984 that tells you what reel of film has which records on it and has an introduction that explains how the records are arranged and what each section in the collection holds. This book is often shelved with the microfilm at the end of the Alaska collection too.

Are you just looking for the vital statistics records? The records themselves are one part of the big run of microfilm, but a separate name index to those was created a few years back. The index is available at the Consortium Library in two ways: first on 3 reels of microfilm, and also in a spiral bound set of photocopies made from the microfilm. At the moment, these can be found at call number: HA38.A7 L55 1986 but we're working on getting them moved over so they're right next to the rest of the records. If you're not seeing them at the HA call number, be sure to check the BX call number (they might have been moved and we may have not yet updated this answer.)

A few other things to remember:

Most, if not all, of the records are not in English. They might be in Russian (Cyrillic alphabet), they might be in Church Slavonic. They haven't been translated, so far as we know. So while you can use the guide to find out what reel you need, if you don't read those other languages, you might want to get the help of somebody who does.

We're not the only library with copies of these. Loussac Library has copies of most of the reels (and parking is free there) as does the Alaska State Library in Juneau and the Rasmuson Library at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Libraries outside of Alaska have copies of the microfilm, too. If you're not near a library that has copies, you should be able to interlibrary loan the reels you want and have them delivered to your library. Check first if your library has a microfilm reader.

These are not a complete set of the Church records. Barbara Sweetland Smith wrote a very helpful guide to Russian Orthodox Church records in Alaska in 1980. It is called: Russian orthodoxy in Alaska : a history, inventory, and analysis of the church archives in Alaska with an annotated bibliography and can be found at CD3089.K6 S55 1980 in the Consortium Library's Alaska collection and many, many other libraries in Alaska. If you're not finding what you are looking for in the above sources, you may also want to check with the Diocese of Alaska to see if they know of any more.

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