22 June 2009

Ukraine: The Lviv street photo project

Would you like to see photographs of the streets your ancestors lived or worked on before they immigrated to other countries? How about the actual house or building that figured in their lives? If your ancestors lived in Lviv (Lemberg, Lvov, Lwow), this may be happening sooner than you think.

Although you may never visit the city on a roots trip, a special project is in the works for Lviv, Ukraine, just announced by Gesher Galicia's president Pamela Weisberger.

A very generous traveler, Dick Koops is a vocational education adviser from Groningen, Germany with an interest in Jewish history and culture. He has volunteered to take photographs of streets and/or buildings in Lviv during the weeks he will be working there on a social-service project from July 3-28.

If your family once lived in Lviv - also known as Lemberg, Lvov and Lwow --or owned a business there, and you have a specific street address, send Pamela the information before July 2.
Dick will try to locate the street and, if a building still exists at that location, he will take a digital photograph of both the building and the street view, to be emailed to you.

Caveat #1: He cannot do any research for you, nor can Gesher Galicia try to discover where your ancestor might have lived in Lviv. This offer is only for people who have an existing address or a street they want photographed.

Remember that street names have changed over the years. Provide the following information when you send your request:

- Your full name and email.
- Name of family/families who lived in Lviv.
- Actual, approximate or best guess for years they lived there.
- Home or business address.
- Street name and house or building number.
- Additional details about the family.
Pamela suggests finding these addresses in the various Polish or Galician business directories online, or from vital records, voting records, or even Holocaust-era records. Search several directors at Logan Kleinwak's Genealogy Indexer.

Caveat #2: There's no guarantee the building in that spot is the same one your ancestors lived or worked in - but it might be. At the least, she says, the Lviv streets still reflect the flavor of yesteryear.

Says Pamela,

Your participation in this project also gives Gesher Galicia permission to post the photographs and family information that you provide on our website at a future date as we reconstruct the Jewish population of Lviv over the years our families resided there.

This project is just starting now, and won't be on our website for many months, but once it goes live we hope to have an interactive map of Lviv which will connect the streets to the photographs of the residences now there.

Adding a personal anecdote or details about the family who lived at an address will be used to flesh out the history of Jews in Lviv and will be most welcome if you feel comfortable with sharing it.

Please remember,however, that we cannot respond to specific questions that fall beyond the scope of this project or do additional research on your behalf.

I am not putting a limit on addresses one can request, but please prioritize. Depending on the demand, we may not get to everything...but we will try, so number your requests.
Contact Pamela here.

This sounds like a very exciting project. Tracing the Tribe readers with information can help grow this project quickly. Additionally, it sounds like a project that can be duplicated for other cities and towns, so put on your inspiration hat!


  1. Whoever is involved in this should take a look at the extensive resources, on line and off, being prepared for L'viv by the L'viv Center for Urban History. This includes and large and growing map and photo database of the city, including the Jewish sections. See http://jewish-heritage-travel.blogspot.com/2009/03/ukraine-new-web-resources-on-lviv.html

  2. just trying to understand who are you. what knowledge you possess about this wonderful city before bolsheviks, nazis/ukranians (almost the same), and later soviets basically destroyed the flavor and charm (and architecture of course) of it. also, i am trying to figure out what do you want to achive by taking pictures of the houses of the people who had been brutally murdered by local population (ukranians) with the help of nazis.

    to find out anything in Lviv is not so easy--ukranians still keep it quiet that before nazis came in, there had lived over 200,000 of Jewish population out of over 300,000 in total. in august 1944 (after the nazis were pushed out of the city), only 200 Jews were alive.

    nowadays, ukranians (current population) presented themselves to the outside world as if this was their town from the day one--pure lie.

    any time I have a chance to walk along a Lviv street looking at the houses and bullrings, I try to picture myself the people, families, parents and children-- how lived here and how come they (and their loved ones) are not around anymore. my soul filled with sorrow for the women and children how took horrible death and nobody wants to admit: yes we, ukranians, have jewish blood on our hands (up to the elbow).

    if we had a chance to chat a little bit, I would have told you a lot about my city. you know, it is very easy to go around and take pictures. and nothing else. please understand, behind every façade horrible tragedy is hiding and nobody have guts to speak up.

    thank for reading to the end,