Thursday, March 7, 2019

Polish Research - Where Do You Start?

Getting Started
The a3Genealogy International Team has been tackling large Polish ancestry project the past year. We have bragging rights for breaking brickwalls if given enough time.  These projects are not easy, most of the in-country documents are not indexed.  There are different research techniques for Jewish ancestry in Poland, and Catholic.  Let’s further break this down.  Catholic genealogical research is even divided between Roman Catholicism and the Greek Catholic Church.  Have you heard of Ruthenian? I’ll explain that late.  Bu the way…Polish genealogical research is not really in Poland. It includes the full eastern bloc to include Ukraine, Austria, Russia, Hungary, and Czech.  No…it’s not easy! So where do you start.

As with all genealogical research start with yourself.  Exhaust the American or Canadian or European, or Australian records.  Those are just some of our projects.  You should be ferreting out all you can, on you surname (and remember that surname can be spelled in a half dozen ways.)  But start with the most recent spelling and be flexible. What to look for in the online collections?  Yes, start online.  It’s one of the few times I will say, spend lots of time, just pulling online records. 
  • Census records -will give you family units.  Not a big hint since the same names may be in the household three doors down, but pay attention to occupation, military service, education level, age, and place/date of birth.  These small details will become life-safer later.
  • Death records of your immigrant may hold family secrets.  Plus you will want to pull the birth records of all of their children.  This will narrow down the emigration, and help to tie family units in Europe.
  • Military records -these records give us contact persons’ names, and date and place of birth. May mention if your ancestor was an alien or naturalization.  You may find that the next of kin is a wife back in Galicia Poland (let’s say), or family that did not travel, or maybe state where in Galicia, or Tarnapol or one of the powiat, or voivodeship, gmina.  
Collecting more is best.  The reason is when we “jump the pond”, we get to match these people like a Rubik's cube.

  1. Immigration / Passenger List records – Here you are looking for birth information, “home” contact, and arrival contract.  Don’t get discouraged if it names an in-law or acquaintance, as these may be your key to the correct ancestor.  You will want to use all of your tools for this to include but not limited to:
  2. Ellis Island Passenger Search
  3. Familysearch.org, NY Passenger Arrival Lists (Ellis Island), 1892-1924
  4. The National Archives, AAD is a great resource for Russian and German (index files).
  5. Naturalization Records – just start online, but you need copies of the originals (the indices gives us minimal details, and really, is more for confusion than untangling family units. Don’t forget Declaration of Intent records (1st Papers).  By the way this is where you will find change of names too.  My Wasyl changed his legally to Walter
  6. Special Boards of Inquiry, Immigration Records,  – a common overlooked one.  There aren’t a lot that have been digitized, but exhaust there first, the find out where your Special Boards of Immigration Inquiry are located (if salvaged).  What will you learn? LOTS!
  • Character of the immigrant
  • Family situation
  • Family members
  • Occupation
  • Migratory path
His Story

Her Story

OH....and 
  • Lots of lies, but more truths.  Luckily these sworn statements help us wade through the obvious issues here.


Immigration Records, Boards of Special Inquiry (BSI)

Today I worked in the Philadelphia, PA Immigration Records, Special Boards of Inquiry, between 1893-1909 digitized on ancestry.com.  I have also worked with this record collection in the regional National Archives - NY. 

Other Sources: 
This is the time for super passenger/manifests list knowledge.  Matter fact, if you have been waiting for an excuse to understand the markings, locations, how to use them,  the time has arrived to be the best friend of passenger and manifests lists.
Kathleen Brandt
a3Genealogy@gmail.com
Accurate, accessible answer

Monday, February 18, 2019

Research Tips to Tracing American Ancestors Overseas

Ancestor Disappeared?
Consular Records
Did your ancestor travel overseas for work, missionary work, U.S. government work? Was a child of an American citizen born overseas? This occurred frequently with customary long overseas visits. The Department of State records, various records of death notices of US citizens abroad should be scoured for your elusive ancestor.  Don’t dismiss these records as only for those who were naturalized USA citizens and returned to their native land to visit family. Vacationers fell sick, were victims of violence, automobile accidents, or were imprisoned, etc. These records also included deaths that occurred in Canada and the Americas.



What to Expect
In addition to providing genealogical data of family members and kinship, often a passport number is provided. In the case of Spyrus Kansas, Greek born, but naturalized citizen of the USA, the names and addresses of his wife and siblings are provided, along with his passport number and his burial (and re-interment) information with the cause of death.  It even gives information on the family home being attacked by guerilla forces while in Greece. 

Married in Europe
Women were often naturalized by marriage; and travelled on a joint passport. See Passports Applications for Genealogy.  In doing so, American citizens (by marriage) like that of Germaine Jackson’s death states she was a [USA] native by marriage, but born in Paris.  The good news for the researcher is that for clarification, her marriage date, and address of her French family and origin are provided.

Death at Sea
It’s no surprise that many died at sea. There are 333 records of Titanic casualties; limited to the bodies found. Obviously sea voyage continued to the destination, and the deaths were reported to the Dept. of State, upon arrival as was William Morris’s death. Morris of New York was  traveling to Brussels in 1903.

Foreign Death Certificates
Often research leads us to locating a foreign death certificate. Know that foreign death certificates are most often written in the foreign language where the death occurred. For forensic genealogical searches of heir, estates, and dual citizenships, these foreign death certificates are a place to begin your search, but are usually not accepted for USA insurance or estates and may be denied for Dual Citizenship records. (This is only applicable for foreign consulates that still require ancestor death certificates.)   

Foreign Service Post Records
If your ancestor served the USA on an assigned foreign diplomatic or other government post, records can be located in Record Group (RG) 84: Foreign Service Post Records of the US Department of State.  Textural records of the death (plus births and marriages) from 1788-1962 of US citizens may be found in the Records of Diplomatic Posts (RG 84.2) and Records of Consular Posts, RG84.3.

Locating the Records
Although ancestry.com has digitized the Reports of Deaths of American Citizens Abroad, 1835 -1974, researchers must know that the original National Archive death records are archived in four reference collections: 
  • Record of Death Notices of United States Citizens Abroad, 1835 – 1855 
  • Death Notices of United States Citizens Abroad, 1857 – 1922  
  • Death Reports in the State Department Central Decimal File, 1910-1963 
  • Reports of the Deaths of American Citizens, 1963-1974
For More Information

Kathleen Brandt
a3Genealogy.com
a3genealogy.blogspot.com

(Original posted 16 Feb 2013)