© Mennonite Heritage Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba (Last updated 14 April 2011)
The "Guardianship Office for Foreign Settlers in New Russia" was established in 1800 in Ekaterinoslav, as the main institution for the management of all foreign colonies in southern Russia region (Ekaterinoslav, Taurida and Kherson provinces/guberniyas). In 1801 it was renamed the "Guardianship Committee for Foreign Settlers in New Russia" and in 1818 it became the "Guardianship Committee for Foreign Settlers in Southern Russia", due to the increased number of settlers in New Russia and Bessarabia. The main office was in Ekaterinoslav (1800-1820), then Kishinev (1820-1833), and Odessa (1833-1871). Until 1837 the Guardianship Committee reported to the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (Economic Department). From 1837 to 1871 it reported to the Ministry of State Domains.
The functions of the Committee were very important and included settling and governing the colonies, the arrangement of colonists, grants or loans for building houses, the sale of cattle, the sale of agricultural equipment and seed, arbitration and settling of disputes, and the promotion of trade, industry and agriculture. The Guardianship Committee for Foreign Settlers in Southern Russia was abolished in 1871, and its functions were transferred to local administrations.
This fonds contains the records of the Russian government department that was responsible for all issues related to the foreign settlers in Russia. The department was charged to ensure the success of the settlers. Of high interest to family historian are the vital records of births, marriages and deaths for the Chortitza Mennonite Colony for much of 1801 and 1802. There are also lists of children vaccinated (see 1809 and 1814 lists). A fair number of files relate to criminal cases or other situations where legal documents were generated due to some type of conflict in the colonies. Other files contain primarily statistical information about the colonies. The files also provide considerable information about how the Office of Guardianship governed the colonies.
The content is organized chronologically with file descriptions listed in eight (8) separate finding aids called inventories (i.e. Inventories no. 1, 1a, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8).See chart below for details.
Date inventory was created
Inclusive dates of files
Quantity of files in 1940
Quantity of files in 1998
Date of filming Mennonite-related files
MHC retrieval numbers
791-798, 949-952, 1123-1124; CD/DVD 19-22, 150-155
micro-film 953-959; 1120
micro-film 1121-1122; CD 24
Links to Inventory File Lists
Inventory 1 (1799-1841) 14 rolls of microfilm, 4 CD ROM disks and 6 DVD disks.
Inventory 2 (1847-1852) 5 rolls of microfilm. Place Index. Name Index.
Inventory 3 (1852-1856) 4 rolls of microfilm. Name Index.
Inventory 4 (part 1) (1856-1877) 7 rolls of microfilm. Place Index. Name Index.
Inventory 4 (part 2) (1856-1877) 1 roll of microfilm. Place Index. Name Index.
Inventory 5 (part 1) (1819-1876) 2 rolls of microfilm. Name Index
Inventory 5 (part 2) 6, 7, 8 and 1a (1800-1871) 2 CD ROM disks. Place Index. Name Index.
File lists, file abstracts and frame by frame descriptions for selected files related to Mennonite content.
In 1 June 1918, the Russian Government issued a decree "About Concentration and Centralization of Archives" which resulted in a state system of archival institutions being established. The most valuable records were declared as state property. The Odessa Historical Archives was established in 1920 and the records of the Guardianship Committee were placed there in 1922 as Fund #6. (Most likely the records were with the City of Odessa administration from 1871-1922.) From 1922-1940 the files were arranged chronologically, file descriptions created and a series of inventory lists prepared. By 1940 there were 5 research guides (referred to as "Inventories." During the German-Romanian occupation of the Second World War, many files disappeared. After the war, four additional "inventories" were created and existing lists updated. English and German translations of the Russia file lists begun in the 1990s. Mennonite related materials were selected for a cooperative microfilming venture between North American Mennonite archives and the Odessa Region State Archive starting in 1998, with the first microfilms arriving in North American in 2000.
Russian, German, French
Described by Alf Redekopp, April 2011.
Odessa Region State Archive
Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta resources
Mennonite Archives of Ontario His Mss 11.15
Germans from Russia Heritage Collections
Odessa Region State Archives Fund 252 Finding Aid (MHC reference shelf)
None to access
Acc. Nos. 2000-152, 2001-121, 2003-016, 2003-131, 2003-132, 2006-051, 2011-023