We offer a fully custom, professional, archive service with a dedicated team of experienced archivists.
We have collated our most commonly asked questions into FAQs below. Please ensure that you read them before submitting a form so that you fully understand the specifics of our 1st and 2nd phases as well as the minimum information we require to begin a search.
Click the button below to fill out our archive enquiry form and get one step closer to retrieving your family documents today!
We have split our archive search into 2 phases.
The 1st Phase is the very initial enquiry that is performed to see if any information can be located. Often, by undertaking the first phase, we are able to gain a good idea of whether there will be a possibility of finding information through further detailed searching. This initial enquiry will not produce a report with family history or details.
The 2nd Phase is a much more in depth search. This consists of the archivists extracting all the records which might be relevant to your family. This is a very labour-intensive and time-consuming process as they have to physically search through every possible record. Where they are able to find information, they will scan the documents and then send us the copies. Finally, we will collate all of the information that has been found and will forward it on to you to receive.
Please note that due to COVID-19 some archives in Belarus are closed and therefore we are not able to perform any searches in these archives at this time. We will always inform you whether this will affect your specific search before payment as it may cause your search to be delayed a few months.
Although we normally split our searches into two phases, we have found that when searching for documents about people originating from small settlements/villages this approach is often not suitable. This is because there are, in some instances, no ‘easy to check documents’… for example, consistent A-Z listings.
To be sure that nothing is missed, in this situation we recommend something that we call a one-off “Combi” search, dispensing with the 2 Phase approach. In this type of search the archivist will examine all of the available documents to ensure that nothing is missed. We charge a one-off fee in order to facilitate this search as there is no ‘initial checking of documents’ that would normally occur in Phase 1. Where there are positive results, we will provide a report with scans of records found along with the translated text of the identified records.
In order for an enquiry to go ahead we need (as a minimum): The name of the person for whom you are searching for records; the date range to search in, this could be “pre-revolution” or a specific year range “1910-20”; The name of the city / area in which they lived.
We ask you to give us as much relevant information as possible. This could include: Additional names, dates, locations; when the person left and what their profession was. The more information an archive enquiry is based on, the higher its likelihood of success. Please try not to provide information that is not relevant as it can slow down the search process. If we require additional information after reading your initial enquiry, we will contact you to request this information.
Unfortunately, we can not guarantee a successful search and this will always be made clear before a quote is sent. However, we do have an excellent success record. The ‘1st Phase Enquiry’ is a very good indicator of whether there is more information to find. Sometimes we are able to find the information quite quickly, but sometimes it takes quite a while – especially when records have been relocated to other archives.
It is also important to note that records pre- 1917 (the Russian Revolution) are fairly extensive. Records that are dated after this time may be harder to find as they may have moved from their original location or, in some cases, may even have been lost during the war period.
We quote depending on the specific requirements of each archive search. For example, some people ask us to look for information on one family member, and sometimes where there are several names, we quote a higher price as this requires more work.
When submitting your initial enquiry form, try to include as much information as possible. Due to administration and translation requirements for each new piece of information, we will charge small fee of around £35 for additional information that is supplied to us after the initial enquiry has begun.
The cost of a ‘1st Phase Enquiry’ is usually £200 but will vary depending on the information supplied.
This is a custom service and the duration of each phase will vary according to the quantity of information in your request and the accessibility of the records.
On average the 1st Phase takes around 2 months and the 2nd Phase takes around 6 months.
These lengths of time include the administration, the physical archival searches (which in most cases are done physically, record by record) and the production of a unique archival record report detailing all of our findings. You will always be informed before payment if there is reason for a significant delay (such as archives being closed due to COVID-19)
Within the price we give a maximum of two hours on post report queries. Where this time is exceeded we will quote for additional hours. Therefore, we recommend that you collate your questions to make the best use of your time.
We have a small, dedicated team of volunteers managing the programme on our end, however your actual archive search will be undertaken by professional archivists in Belarus.
Yes! We also offer:
- Deciphering and translation of documents.
- Local reports of towns that are relevant to your family’s heritage. This includes photos and information about what the towns look like today, as well as information about any Jewish buildings and activity where applicable.
Please note that the language that was used when most of the archives were written is quite different to today. The old language has complex sentence structures and so when translating we make necessary changes in order to make the information easier to read and understand. Also, when we translate a document from a record we will only provide the translation that is relevant to the specific enquiry request.
We do not offer genealogical research. Our service is to help you to locate records in the Belarus archives where they exist. Where we are successful, any records we find may assist any genealogical work you may be undertaking yourself or with the assistance of a professional genealogist.
No! We always tell you the results of the 1st phase before discussing the cost of the 2nd phase! It may not be possible to perform the 2nd phase search, or you may wish to take a break before going ahead. That is completely fine!
Due to the changing of borders through history, it sometimes occurs that documents are located in archives in Lithuania or Poland. We do have contacts there who are able to help us to search and retrieve these documents and we charge accordingly. However, we always advise and quote before doing any research work outside of Belarus.
Yes we do! You can download the latest version by clicking on the icon to the right:
Please note that we are constantly improving this glossary as we come across more words in reports.
Yes we do! You can download the latest version by clicking on the icon to the right:
Please note that we are constantly improving this explanation as we continue to write more reports.
As a charity working to revive Jewish community life in Belarus and building a Jewish Cultural Heritage trail in the country, our mission is to tell the story of the Jews of Belarus. We are giving a voice to the Jewish people in Belarus today and helping them to connect to their ancestry and to the present day Jewish communities.
By providing people with the opportunity to search for their family records (in a cost effective and efficient manner) we also learn more about the story of the Belarusian Jews: Why they left, what professions they had, and where they lived. It also helps us to reach more people who might be interested in supporting the work we do.
The Together Plan did such an amazing job researching my mother’s history. I had no idea they would be able to go back to the 1700’s. What a genealogical eye opener this was. It gave me a sense of history that I had not experienced before. Mike, my case worker, was so thorough and the time it took to do the research was was fantastic when you read the list of resources he looked at. I am very grateful to The Together Plan for helping me uncover how many generations that could be identified. The excitement I felt in examining this information will last with me. I have been given a true gift.
Stanley Goldberg- August 2021
In 1982 I started my genealogy research at the National Archives in Washington D.C. The very first person I researched was my grandfather who left Belarus in 1913 alone and never saw anyone in his nuclear family again. I found his ship’s records and naturalization papers but that was all. For forty years I tried to break through the brick wall keeping me from information about his family, with no success. Then I decided to reach out to the Together Plan in the hopes that they might help. I was so moved to see the information they found which FINALLY revealed to my sister and I the names of our great grandparents and their family going back to 1700’s!! Gillian and her staff are lovely to work with, answering all of my many questions and I am grateful for their help. They do amazing work all around.
Sharon R Beit Shemesh – June 2021
The Together Plan dug deep to find my ancestral roots. When an initial attempt to uncover centuries old archives proved fruitless, they did not give up. What they subsequently discovered was priceless to me. Three generations of direct ancestors dating back to the 1700’s. I recommend The Together Plan highly!
Kim Sherman – April 2021
I recently commissioned The Together Plan to search for archival material in Belarus, and I am greatly impressed by responsiveness, speed and efficiency of the process. In particular, Gillian is an excellent communicator, thoughtful and supportive, and kept me advised of the process and its outcome. I can highly recommend this service and its staff.
Dianne Moses – January 2021
When I first contacted The Together Plan, I had a hand typed copy of a family tree that my uncle had put together in 1995. I was quite proud my uncle was able to determine the names of my great-great grandparents, but had doubts there would be anything left in Minsk. I had learned that, unlike other Eastern European countries, the records from Belarus were not accessible online. One needs a researcher on the ground in Minsk, who knows genealogy, and understands Russian. I was attracted to The Together Plan because it is a non-profit dedicated to reviving Jewish communities in Belarus.
After getting the research results, my family and I were shocked to see our family history back to the 1740s, along with a detailed story about my great-grandfather. I knew the Tsar had forced the Jews to take surnames in 1804, and now I knew the name of our family’s first “Kaplan”. I never imagined learning that. Reactions from family members to these findings were Wow, Amazing and Incredible.
The researcher’s attention to detail was clear, especially in their answers to our questions. I would recommend The Together Plan to anyone.
Carl Kaplan – October 2020