Knowing your ancestor’s original name is essential in Ukrainian genealogy, and a good understanding of how names are translated or transliterated will make your research more effective. Take for example, these three tombstones in the Ukrainian section of Calvary Cemetery in Queens, NY.
1. The English part of Ivan Hynda’s cemetery stone (below) gives you only so much information, despite the name’s perfect transliteration from Ukrainian. But knowing even a little Ukrainian, you’ll get more information from the transcription:
“Here lies our beloved husband and father Ivan Hynda, born in Zherebky Shliakhetski in Skalat district, Western Ukraine, died 28 November 1936, 44 years old.” (Ivan’s daughter Elizabeth also is buried here.)
2. Ahafia Ivanyshchyn was born March 29, 1875, in the village Hryniv, Bibrka district. Her tombstone (below) shows how the surname was shortened and Americanized to Evans. If you knew this woman as Grandma Evans, you probably wouldn’t think to look for the surname Ivanyshchyn on a passenger list.
3. Understanding feminine name suffixes also is important: “Here lies the servant of God Anastasia Podluska, wife of Konstantyn, died in 40th year of her life on 23 June 1917. Eternal Memory” (below). What’s interesting is her picture. The name in English is Podluski—the female version of this patronymic ends in –ska; the male version, in -sky (or -ski using Polish spelling).
From the July/August 2012 Family Tree Magazine