Some time ago I have written about online resources for Second World War Soviet records, which can be accessed here. There has been a great interest in the First World War research, as well, especially as this year will mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War. The number of participants and casualties were so great, that most Europeans had ancestors or relatives involved in WWI.
In this post I will put together the top online resources for researching individuals fighting in WWI in the Russian Imperial army. It is estimated that 1,700,000 Russian soldiers and officers were killed and 3,749,000 were wounded in this war. Naturally, these resources do not only include the territory of contemporary Russia, but also other territories, that were part of the Russian empire at the time. Although the Russian WWI databases are not yet as comprehensive as those for WWII, but there have been significant efforts in this direction. Here is my summary of the best available resources and some of the expected developments.
- "In the memory of the heroes of the Great War of 1914-1918" (“Памяти героев Великой войны 1914-1918 годов”) is a web-portal, featuring the database of the fallen and awarded soldiers and officers. It was launched by the Russian Ministry of Defense with the support of the Federal Archival Agency and the Russian Historical Society and as of now has the most complete information on Russia's participation in the First World War. It contains 2,278,000 records from the “Card Index on accounting the losses in First World War 1914-1918”. The use of geolocation data of the battles and contemporary maps allows to visualize the route of a given person during WWI. Search is possible by multiple parameters, however, only in Russian. Here is a helpful guide by Vera Miller on searching this database without knowing Russian.
- First World War, 1914–1918 (Электронная база «Алфавитные списки потерь нижних чинов 1914-1918 гг.») is a database of 1,337,430 personal records of the WWI soldiers (lower ranks) of the Russian empire, compiled by the Union of Revival of Pedigree Traditions. The search form is available in English, but the results come up in Russian language. However, I highly recommend to spell names and other key words in Cyrillic letters, to avoid mistakes due to transliteration. As always, try different spellings of names and places.
- Nominal Roll of killed, wounded and missing persons of lower ranks 1914-1920 (Именной список убитым, раненым и без вести пропавшим нижним чинам [Текст]. - Петербург: Военная тип. имп. Екатерины Великой, 1914-1920. - 27 см. № 781-800. - . - С.12481-12800: табл.) is a digitized and searchable original document listing the victims of First World War (lower ranks) from Russian Empire, available on the website of Russian State Library.
- Officers of the Russian Imperial Army (Офицеры русской императорской армии) is a database of the Russian officers (soldiers not included here!) who served between 1900 and 1917. It contains 60,339 personnel cards and 24,755 photographs. This database is in Russian, but you can also use this link showing this page google-translated into English. For those who are not Russian language users this step-by-step instruction on how to use this database will be useful.
- Prisoners of the First World War ICRC historical archives, 1914-1918 is an online database that contains data from the International Red Cross archives, for all nationalities that took part in the Great war, including the Russian army. This resource and the search are fully available in English.
- Personal History project (Проект "Персональная история") offers a number of relatively small databases and lists related to Russian Imperial Army personnel, including First World War. They are relatively small and not user-friendly, but still can be used as additional resource.