All Russia Family Tree

Website overview & how-to

What is this site about?

In Russian, vgd.ru is an abbreviation for a phrase like "All-Russia Genealogical Tree". So it is easy to guess - this service is dedicated to the Russian genealogy, and, of course, it is also relevant to all the countries of the former USSR, because bloodlines are very close.

The VGD.ru website was founded in May 1999 by Sergey Kotelnikov and Lyudmila Biryukova, who was previously engaged in the book publishing business.
So, this is the oldest and the biggest Russian Genealogical website. Of course, there are some international websites of this kind, which are much bigger,
but VGD.ru is the biggest among the local Russian Genealogical websites (according to SimilarWeb statistics service), and it's very well known in Russia.

You can find a site slogan on a VGD.ru main page: "VGD.ru is a site for those who have ancestors". Our mission is to help people in discovering their family history.

How to read Russian texts

This site doesn't have an English version of a full scale, so we recommend to use Google Chrome's functions to translate its web pages.
Google works at its worst with Russian abbreviations, for example, VGD translates as IOP, and there are many similar examples, so you need to be extra careful in this aspect. But, of course, family history is worth overcoming these difficulties.

Here are some images illustrating how to ask Chrome to translate webpages.
Step 1. Right-click to ask Google Chrome to translate the Russian text
Step 2. Ask Chrome to do this always
There are other translators, but Google Chrome's built-in function seems to be the easiest way. The translation is not perfect, but the basic things are quite understandable. So, welcome to use it.

How to ask questions or make requests

There is a Foreign section on VGD.ru forum.
Here you can leave a request even if you are not very good with the Russian language: https://forum.vgd.ru/1039/
The site, of course, has researchers/community members who understand foreign languages and you can refer to them if needed.
The registration on the portal is in Russian anyway, but there are quite a few online translators which will help you.
Section for foreiner's requests

Main site sections

Family-search topics

Here in Russia, if someone wants to announce a request to search for their ancestors, then, first of all, they have to write about their last known ancestor, specifying main things: what their name was (a full name), a year and a place of birth, a grade, etc.

All this information will be publicily available.

After this, both active and passive search is turned on:

  • You can be given community advice on where and what documents to request, and then you can take active steps by yourself. So it can give a boost to your active search;
  • It may happen that your "request" will hang for several years intact, and then someone whose genealogical tree has a common ancestor will see it, and thus a "passive search" will be made. Sometimes someone working in the archive will not be lazy and will look at the extract of your request.
  • Or else, a private genealogist researcher may contact you for discussion of the terms of a paid search. Because he probably found your case perspective and so on

So, Writing such Family-search topics is like sending a message to the universe. There are many cases when it works.

Archive section

Here is a comprehensive list of archives.
You can ask experienced people a question about the work of this or that institution. It is possible and necessary to ask questions about the availability of certain documents and their issuance. It should be noted that now the Russian archives are beginning to digitize their collections. A lot of documents for Moscow have recently become available.
About 10 archives have digitized materials even earlier, and this is a very good tendency to put funds in open access. It's great that the state has taken this up. Some archives charge money for viewing these digitized documents.

Here it is necessary to note that the main archival documents for the Russian genealogy are registers of births, revision tales (it's like a household census of peasants for tax purposes), church confession statements, noble genealogy books, and service records of officers and regal officials.

It's hard for a novice to understand what to search for and where. Archives have lots of rules and features which can be not clear even for experienced researchers.
Vgd.ru contains information about the vast majority of archives and can be very useful.
So, It is recommended to read forum topics before visiting archives physically. It will help you to spend time in a more efficient way.

Recently, a new function has appeared - you can see who of the members of the forum plan to work in a particular archive in the coming weeks.

You can see who of the private genealogists is free for new orders.
There is a list on the site where many researchers indicate their professional skills, location and level of proficiency in English.

Of course, It is not difficult to find a specialist for genealogical research on the Internet, but it is difficult to choose one among them. On the VGD.ru website, you can read the messages of experts on the forum topics, see user reviews, evaluate their communication style and the authority of a specialist in the community, etc., and this information should help you choose the right professional for you.

Military section

This section presents everything related to wars. First World War and the Second World War mostly.

Members of the forum have worked out an excellent method of finding missing persons, which can be read here: https://forum.vgd.ru/120/

There is also a very interesting topic "Determination of uniforms, awards, weapons" - here some cases occur quite often when, for example, someone posts a photo of a great-grandfather in a regal officer's uniform - and experts figure out when, in what rank and in what regiment their ancestor served. What awards he had and what he achieved. Such information, of course, can help in genealogical research greatly, although it would seem that initially there was only one photo.
And it is just interesting to know something new about your ancestor.


It is also a very popular section of the forum. Here core members of the community exhibit all their research on the history of their family and the places of residence of their ancestors.

For example:

Huge Gul Diary. The Diary About the Chinese Eastern Railway (Chinese-Eastern Railway) is about the emigration through China of their ancestors, about the BREM DB (DB of the Bureau for Russian Emigrants). The Khabarovsk archive contains personal files-cards for thousands of people who left Russia, which will be of interest to a Western person with Russian roots.

Here is the Diary of Julia Zabello. Her ancestor is a regal officer, and she is the main editor of our site.

Here is the Diary of Ivan Grezin. He is a genealogist, a specialist in Russian in Europe. He has lived in Switzerland for a long time, and he understands the mentality of a Western person, also he is an excellent consultant.

The Diary of Alexander Grigorov. He has very interesting historical research. Topics on the 1st World War etc.

There are a lot of diaries, many interesting ones. Here an essentially random set is mentioned - look at the section yourself, you will not regret it - a lot of interesting people are gathered there.

News section

Visitors themselves report about all the events in the world of Russian genealogy.

Initial Sections


There are no unusual rules on the site, the main condition is that the site is out of politics and you can not use swear words here. And, of course, you need to comply with the laws. Everything should be legal - it's very important (BTW, We use cookies for authorization and statistics :) ). So nothing unusual here. Rules are important. It's a community, so you need to respect others.

Forum Guide

These are introductory sections that are good to read before using the forum. It will help you figure out how everything works and where and how to write in order to get a faster and more complete answer.

It's important to note that here, on the forum, the general approach is:

The community helps you in your search, it is HELP, and they do not make work instead of you and do not give ready-made answers. The community guides those who want to know the history of their ancestors and are ready to understand the search mechanism. So, the community can be very helpful to people who are ready to make their own efforts to study family history. If you want someone to do everything for you, there are many companies and specialists who do this on a commercial basis. And here is a list of such people, you can look through it and choose a proper specialist. But you need to understand that the data is provided by the users themselves. The service is provided by the users themselves. This is not something the VGD.ru team is responsible for.

Genealogical map

Let's take some remote regions, a village in Siberia, for example.
Scroll there and look for marks on the map.
There are some tags here - we can see that some users have already searched for something related to this region, a forum topic is attached to the tags, etc.
So, you can read the topics. But the main thing is that you probably don't know how to search in this region, but users who left their marks - know.
Therefore, it can be helpful to communicate. Or maybe you generally have common pedigree branches, it's possible to have if we talk about small distant villages where almost everyone is a relative.
Don't be shy. Go to the VGD.ru user's profile, write a personal message here.
Map for finding researchers who already have experience in working at some regions

Online genealogical tree builder

There is an easy tree-builder on the website. You can draw and change your family tree in realtime using your browser only. You can add persons and links and so on.
Easy tree-builder based on HTML5 technology is available through the VGD.ru user's profile

Research of the Russian audience and the genealogy market

For those who want to learn more about the genealogy market in Russia and the Russian audience, it will be useful to get acquainted with the research that we did in 2019-2020. You can download it here.

Good luck in finding your ancestors!

For those who know Russian at least a little, this VGD.ru web address is easy to remember, as these are the first letters of the Russian alphabet.
Well, not exactly the first ones - letters from the 3rd to the 5th - VGD.

Visit our website! We are glad to see you and help you find your Russian roots.