Polish Genealogy - Where To Start ?
The attached information provides those who are starting out researching their Polish family genealogy, with a set of tools and reference sites that hopefully assist in getting going.
Unlike British, Irish, American and Australian genealogical research, online Polish genealogy is less developed and very few actual records can be found online. Fortunately, a number of useful Polish based Internet sites have however sprung up in the past 10 years with some of them listed below. Much good work has also been done by the American groups as can be seen by the number of books that have been published on the subject together with the number of genealogical societies than operate there.
Starting out can be a daunting task. A few simple guides and a structured approach to your research will assist in getting to meaningful, reliable results quickly. A word of caution – do not expect to find all the answers within the first 12 months. Be patient, document everything and think like a detective - allow yourself a number of years to uncover, and verify, even the ”easy” information.
And beware – genealogical research of one’s family is addictive ! You may even resort to doing your partner’s family tree to satisfy your “addiction”.
The guides at the start of this listing provide an introduction on how to get going and are especially useful to those who are undertaking genealogy ”detective work” for the first time.
For Australian based researchers, do not underestimate the usefulness of the National Archives of Australia – your parents’ or grandparents’ immigration and naturalisation files can sometimes reveal many unexpected treasures of information. It helps to know the name of the ship/plane and date of arrival in Australia. Poles have been emigrating to Australia from the time of the First Fleet, so you never know, you may even be able to track down a distant ancestor who made their way downunder long before the post WW2 mass migrations.
The National Library of Australia has been digitising Australian Newspapers and making them available online. Most newspapers have been digitised up until the late 1950’s. This is another really useful resource for researching your ancestors’ and the various Polonia groups’ activities around Australia.
By far the most useful resource will be the Family History Centres (FHC). There is a high likelihood that your town’s births, deaths and marriage records have been microfilmed and available for viewing. This resource is far cheaper and more accessible than using overseas based private research organisations to search for your ancestors’ records. The trade-of is of course your time. I would suggest that you resort to using the specialist overseas research facilities for the more difficult research once you have personally ”harvested the low hanging fruit” i.e. extracted the easy records that have been microfilmed by the FHC.
For many of you, your ancestors may have lived in the surrounding regions such as Germany, Silesia, Prussia, Galicia, Bohemia, Slovakia, Belarus, Lithuania, Ukraine as well regions such as Lemkowyna, Rusyn, Kaszuby, Kresy, Bukovina, Wielkopolska, Malopolska, Pomorze, Mazowsze, Lodz etc. I have not included links to researching these regions as many of the these can be found within the sites listed below or via your favourite search engine. Additionally, try searching on your ancestors’ surnames, town names and regions – there are many small specialist interest groups out there on the Web, some of which may match your areas of interest.
Even if your ancestors belonged to a specific religion, you should also research the various religious archival materials esp for towns and regions of interest to you – Roman Catholic, Judaic, Lutheran, Orthodox, Greek Catholic, Calvinist or Mennonite Churches.
Please feel free to email me links to any additional useful websites, any broken links, and if you have any questions.
Disclaimer: No warranty is made as to the accuracy or completeness of the information contained in this document. All the materials contained in this document have been obtained from sources considered to be reliable and are provided purely for informational and entertainment purposes. As such, this does not constitute in any way whatsoever my endorsement of 3rd parties associated with these links/services. It is your sole responsibility to ensure the accuracy of any services or information offered by such 3rd parties.
Tom Wodzinski – tomwodz@... Canberra Australia (March 2013)