Archaic Ukrainian Orthographies on Ancestral Graves

The oldest Ukrainian-language grave that I found of an ancestor is my great-great-great grandmother’s grave. She died in 1883 and is buried in the village Luchkivtsi, about an hour north east of Lviv. Anna’s husband was a German man named Venceslaus (Karlo) Kuhn.

The etymological spelling used is called Maksymovychivka. It was introduced in 1827, and in Galicia and Bukovyna it was used in schools until 1895 (and in Russophile press and books until the 1930s).

Анна Кинъ
зъ Давидовичêвъ
упокоилася 28 серпня 1883
въ 64 р. житя
вѣчная ей памятъ

Equivalent in modern Ukrainian orthography:

Анна Кин
зі Давидовичів
упокоїлася 28 серпня 1883
в 64 р. життя
Вічная їй пам’ять

Anna Kuhn
Of the Davydovyches
Died 29 August 1883
At 64 years of age
Memory Eternal


This grave from 1906 (in the village Tsishky) of one of my great-grandmother’s siblings uses the zhelekhivka orthograpy (used around 1875-1925 in western Ukraine), which no longer had the etymological letters that were in Maksymovychikva.

“Its 34-letter alphabet officially replaced etymological spellings in Galician and Bukovynian schools in November 1892, and its orthographic and lexical norms (many of them based on the southwestern dialects) were laid out in Stepan Smal-Stotsky and Theodor Gartner’s 1893 Ruthenian school grammar. The zhelekhivka was retained in Galicia until the early 1920s.”

Юлія Беднавска
Упокоїлася д. 14 марта 1906
в 19 році житя
Вічная єй память

Modern equivalent:

Юлія Беднавська
Упокоїлася д. 14 березня 1906
В 19 році життя
Вічная їй память

Yuliya Bednavska
Died on 14 March 1906
At 19 years of age
Memory Eternal


This grave of my great-great grandmother from 1932 (in the village Kolodno) uses modern orthography. However, it uses an old word for the month of November: “padolyst” instead of the modern word “lystopad” (falling leaves).

З Горнаткевичів
Вікторія Левицька
Прож. 81 літ
25 падолиста 1932 р.
Спочиває ту і просить о молитву

Of the Hornatkevyches
Viktoria Levytska
Lived 81 years
25 November 1932
Rests here and asks for prayer

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