NINA BOGDAN         Russian > English Translation

Нина Богдан  - русский на английский перевод 


    My research into the family history is closely tied to my profession as a translator. Over the years, I have translated a large quantity of material from Russian into English, much of it from the pre-Revolutionary era and the majority of it handwritten. This is fascinating but time-consuming and exacting work. It has been, in many ways, a labor of love but it has also helped me hone my craft as translating handwritten documents written over a hundred years ago is a multi-step process.

    I began researching my family history many years ago. My great aunt on my mother's side, Nataliya Ukhtomskaya (Наталья Александровна Ухтомская), who immigrated to San Francisco with my mother in 1959, had been the family archivist and had managed to preserve many photographs that dated back to the 1800s and early 1900s. These were taken in Russia, mostly in the area of Simbirsk (now Ulyanovsk) on the Volga River in Russia. There are also many photographs from Harbin, China, where the Ukhtomskiy family lived in exile. Unfortunately, my great aunt passed away in 1968 and her extensive knowledge of the family history died with her. 

    In 2002, I traveled to Russia to try to find out more information about the Ukhtomskiy family and, specifically, more about the fate of my maternal grandfather, Nikolay Aleksandrovich Ukhtomskiy (Николай Александрович Ухтомский), who was arrested in Harbin, China by the Soviet government in 1945, tried for a number of crimes, including being a spy for the Japanese and an agent-provocateur, and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment. In Ulyanovsk, I was assisted by many people, especially Olga Anatoliyevna Turkina, Director of the Museum of 19th Century Simbirsk Life, and Galina Petrovna Sidorova, Director of the International Department at Ulyanovsk State University. During that trip, I discovered that another ancestor of mine, Valerian Nikanorovich Nazariev (Валериан Никанорович Назарьев), had been a noted public figure and social activist in the Simbirsk in the nineteenth century and that he
and his wife were, ironically, rather closely acquainted with Vladimir Lenin's parents, Ilya and Maria Ulyanov, who also lived in Simbirsk. The archival and other documents and information that I obtained allowed me to identify many of the people in family photographs and I decided that I could do no less than document this history for posterity. Read my translation of Valerian Nazariev's essay titled "Life and People of Times Past," where he describes, among other things, his encounter with Count Leo Tolstoy during their studies at Kazan University.

   I also went to Vorkuta, Russia on that trip, the place where my maternal grandfather died in 1953 after being sentenced to 20 years of hard labor in the GULAG by the Soviet government in 1946. Yevgeniya Aleksandrovna Khaidarova and Vitaliy Troshin of "Memorial," an organization dedicated to the rehabilitation of the victims of Stalinism, provided great assistance to me in my travels there. This is a great organization which continues to fight for human rights and its efforts remind us that fighting repression, whether it is economic or political, is a fundamental duty that crosses history and borders. 

      In 2010, continuing my research, I completed a journey that took me literally around the world. I flew to Kiev, Ukraine and traveled across Russia to China by train, ship, bus, and airplane. Read my blog (in English) at
    I have completed my book, titled The Desolation of Exile: A Russian Family's Odyssey, and it is now available in e-book or hard copy form at

At the Vorkuta train station in 2002.
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