Having found the patronymic key to connect me with the previous generation in my godmother’s as-yet-unknown Melnitchenko family history, I wanted to race to the closest online genealogical resource of Ukranians-R-Us.
Not so fast, however.
I need to make sure some other details don’t slip through my fingers—before I forget I had found them.
For one thing, there were some documents I had discovered on Lydia, my godmother’s mother. Just like I had seen with my godmother’s naturalization records—where what I had previously thought to be her middle name was actually an Americanized version of a patronymic—her mother’s records had presented the same information.
When I first discovered the index card for Lydia’s Declaration of Intent, I was elated. Not yet understanding the Russian—and eastern European—use of patronyms in their names, I had presumed I had just located Lydia’s maiden name.
The card had printed Lydia’s name as:
Melnitchenko, Lydia Theodore
I instantly decided I had found Lydia’s maiden name! What a prize in a world where women often became invisible upon marriage.
Of course, that moment of elation was short-lived. Once I made the discovery, yesterday, of the patronymic naming tradition of Russian heritage—and that of nearby cultures as well—I saw Lydia shrink back into oblivion.
Well, at least partial invisibility. I do, at least, know her father’s first name. Correct that: I know the Americanized version of her father’s first name. Whatever the Ukrainian equivalent is to the name Theodore, that is Lydia’s father’s actual name.
Now, if only I could locate some Ukrainian marriage records, complete with listing of bride’s father’s first name.
And, oh: compatibility with Google™ Translate. I’m thinking I would need a big assist there, too.