Saturday, September 10, 2011

Eastern European Research

Immigrant Ancestor Research
Map from Eastern Europe Travel website 
The Map of Eastern Europe reminds us that there are ethnic groups and countries we are familiar with, i.e. Poland, Czech, Hungary, Croatia, Lithuania.  But there are also clusters of culturally and ethnically unknown people and countries, i.e. Carpatho -Rusyn, Moldova, and Banat. These faintly known ethnic groups also migrated to America.  So where do you go to research?

Recently I attended the FGS2011 seminar Demystifying Eastern European Research with Lisa Alzo, author of Best Online Resources For East European Genealogy on the website who gave us a few great tips. 1) Join a genealogy society that concentrates in your research area. For a listing of ethnic genealogical societies, do a basic google search 2) Conduct as much research as possible stateside prior to doing in-country research. Like all ethnicmgenealogy, you need to pinpoint immigrant's villa/township of origin.  3) Consider hiring an in country researcher (for translation assistance and due to their familiarity with records), or one familiar with your ethnic group and associated records.

Apply Genealogical Principles and Tools
Surely these same tips should be applied to Italian (Greek, Spanish etc.) ancestors. But, for some of us, just knowing that less familiar ethnic genealogical societies exist is a good place to start.  Alzo suggested the Federation of East European Family History Societies (FEEFHS) website as a good place to begin your research.

Just for kicks, I also visited the Family Search Wiki website to see if they had any reference to Banat.  True enough, there was information: So, again I would say this is typical immigrant ancestor research and I would reference many of the traditional sources like Family Search Wiki, and Cyndi's List.

So Why Is it Different?
Basic genealogical research principles apply, so how hard can it be?  This is what I can tell you... wars, language, scattered records, and violent boundary changes are a few headache producing issues, not to mention some restricted releases of documents, and of course the expected number of destroyed documents.  This is not to say that your research can't be done; yet, patience and perseverance is the key. Know that Eastern European research should not be done in a vacuum.  As Alzo suggested, enroll other researchers; join an ethnic society; and perhaps solicit others to assist (perhaps for-hire researchers).

Should You Hire A Professional Researcher?
At a3Genealogy we will never discourage a family researcher from digging into records, and conducting their own family, but, if you aren't sure if you need to hire a professional, here is a good indication. If you think Rusyn is Russian misspelled, you may wish to hire a researcher (like Alzo) for assistance.  If you are allergic to map plotting, border changes, or if country name changes make your head explode, these too are indications that perhaps hiring a researcher (or consultant) may be the answer. 

Good luck on you Eastern European research.
Kathleen Brandt

1 comment:

  1. Very useful information. Thank you, very much, for sharing and recommendations! ;-)