I have recently returned from Warsaw where I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to do some work in the AGAD (Archiwum Glowne Akt Dawnych) and briefly visit the Urzad Stanu Cywilnego, the two archives in Warsaw which keep Galicia birth marriage and death records. I would like to share this experience with you and help you understand what a treasure these records area and how important they are to understanding Jewish history in Galicia. The AGAD archives are housed in a lovely, old (probably rebuilt), small palace very close to Old Square in Warsaw. The rooms are bright and pleasant to work in and the staff, although mainly not fluent in English, is most helpful. The security is strict. One is not allowed to take large bags or materials other than a pencil and notepaper into the reading room.
Read More → The following terms describing various definitions of Jewish religion, Jewish “nationality” and generally Jews, were used in Poland and some adjacent Slavic countries throughout history...
Read More → My mother had no birth certificate, which in Tsarist Russia was not necessary, particularly for girls. To complicate matters, my mother’s marriage certificate lists her date of birth as 1901 and her Polish passport as 1902. Neither shows a day or month of birth. The lawyers we saw refused to touch this case and those who showed the slightest interest indicated that it could prove costly without any promise of success. I therefore decided to give it a try on my own, based on stories my mother had told me over the years about her life in Satanov in Tsarist Russia.
Read More → The Polish Declarations of Admiration and Friendship for the United States consist of a collection of 111 manuscript volumes compiled in Poland in 1926 and delivered to President Calvin to honor the 150th anniversary of the US Declaration of Independence. Richly illustrated with original works by prominent Polish graphic artists, the collection includes the greetings and signatures of national, provincial and local government officials, representatives of religious, social, business, academic, and military institutions, and school children. President Coolidge asked that this collection be transferred to the Library of Congress where it remained “forgotten” for some 70 years. In 1996, during the visit of Polish First Lady Jolanta Kwasniewska and other Polish dignitaries, the collection was serendipitously “rediscovered.”
Read More → The JRI-Poland database of almost 3 million indices of Jewish vital records derives from two main sources. The first source is the many microfilms of Jewish records of Poland filmed by the LDS Church. The second is the indices created from the Jewish holdings of the Polish State Archives that were not previously microfilmed. Both sources originate from the vital record registers at about 50 branches of the Polish State Archives.
Read More → The JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) is a searchable database on JewishGen. The goal of the project is to catalog all existing Jewish cemeteries and burial societies worldwide. It does not accept information on individual burials, but only for complete cemeteries, landsmanshaft or synagogue plots, or other types of burial societies (labor organization, fraternal organizations, occupational plots, etc.). In other words, a burial society doesn't necessary have to be a landsmanshaft plot—it can be a plot for a synagogue or any other kind of Jewish organization.
Read More → Most genealogical researchers try to accumulate the largest possible number of civil records such as birth, marriage and deaths certificates, and then use sophisticated software to arrange them in elaborate graphs representing family trees, often the size of giant sequoias of the West Coast. But these trees are often lifeless. This is why it is so important to go beyond these simple dry facts and try to discover the environment, the circumstances, the background, the historical facts of the time, the looks registered on old photographs, the untold stories and the remaining artifacts in ancestral towns. You never know what you may find. You have to be curious and constantly ask the archivists “is there anything else?”
Read More → I was prompted to write this article because I narrowly escaped the possibility of being scammed by an overseas genealogy researcher. To avoid unnecessary expense and disappointment in your search for family roots do not leave the hiring of a genealogy researcher to chance. This article takes you through a four-phase systematic approach (1) defining your requirements, (2) evaluating proposals. (3) contracting with the researcher, and (4) monitoring the researcher’s performance.
Read More → Many researchers, particularly those working on very large families or single-surname projects, reach a point where a particular relationship can be deduced but cannot quite be proven. The naming patterns may be there and everything seems to fit into plausible times and places, but neither documentation nor oral testimony exists that might even remotely be considered proof. Do you record it as fact, without evidence? Or do you leave open a question when you actually “know” the answer? If you leave it open, you leave gaps and loose ends in your genealogy for no good reason. But if you bite the bullet and call it fact, you may never re-examine the decision in light of new source material. Your research heirs certainly won’t think to do so. How do you decide?
Read More → The Jewish Records Indexing- Poland (JRI-Poland) birth, marriage, and death indices found on the JewishGen Web site are invaluable resources for finding information with surname searches. This article provides a few tips for getting the most out of using these indices. These tips are based on my experience doing surname searches in the indices covering Kolomea Administrative District towns and villages for more than 50 requestors submitting hundreds of surnames.
Read More → How many times have I heard “There’s no information on my shtetl.” Perhaps there’s no information readily available on the Internet, and you’ve tried Google and JewishGen’s databases and sitewide searches, but alas.... Yet there is plenty of information about the vast majority of shtetls. The trick is to find people who do have the knowledge or documents about a particular place and get them to share it. Fifteen years ago I found nothing on the Internet about a “two horse” town named Zmigrod. Nobody had even heard of it and no data were available. So in my grandparents’ memory, I created a JewishGen ShtetLinks site.
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