Answered By: Staff Archives and Special Collections
Last Updated: Nov 16, 2018     Views: 246

We do have some. We have microfilm copies of many 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.

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! The Library of Congress has put a guide to the collection online. That guide may include other hard copy materials that are only available to be seen in person at the Library of Congress, but the microfilm materials are listed there and the listings indicate which reel contains which records. 

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. These can be found at call number: BX497.A4 A47 1984.

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 (the main branch of the Anchorage Public 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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