Genealogy

How to start a genealogical query?

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Local press, regional publications, monographs pertaining to a given locality or institution, old telephone books and directories, as well as bibliographical dictionaries may help in finding information on specific persons. It is recommended to start with gathering data on the history of the region in which our ancestors used to live, its state, administrative and church pertinence (names and territorial divisions in public and church administration were subject to numerous changes throughout ages). They will be of help in planning subsequent steps of the query.


Prior to making any queries in search of archive materials concerning family history, one should read publications devoted to genealogical and historical issues preserved in libraries.

Local press, regional publications, monographs pertaining to a given locality or institution, old telephone books and directories, as well as bibliographical dictionaries may help in finding information on specific persons. It is recommended to start with gathering data on the history of the region in which our ancestors used to live, its state, administrative and church relevance (names and territorial divisions in public and church administration were subject to numerous changes throughout ages). They will be of help in planning subsequent steps of the query.

Since different localities may bear the same names, (eg. Wólka, Nowa Wieś), it is necessary to identify the parish, commune (gmina) or county (powiat) pertinence. Archive materials are preserved according to the principle of territorial and fond relevance. Therefore, it is important that a searcher knows when, where, and who created the materials of his/her interest. It will facilitate the identification of the place of their preservation. Documents from the present territory of Poland were drawn up in different languages, among others, in Latin, German, and Russian. A majority of documents that genealogists have to deal with are manuscripts. That is the reason for difficulties in reading out information included in these documents.

At the first stage of any query, one should collect and arrange one’s own documents from the family archives, such as certificates of birth, baptism, confirmation, school certificates, identity cards, diplomas, documents pertaining to military service, studies, employment, marriage, title deeds, press cuttings (e.g. obituaries), diaries, calendars, prayer-books, and books with dedications.

The information gathered may be verified in talks with elderly family members. Most of them will for sure readily share any information they have and provide access to documents and photographs they may possess.

Having collected information on the date and the place of birth, baptism, marriage, death or funeral, and on the religious denomination of family members, one may continue searching at local institutions (public registry offices, parishes, state and church archives, or, though more rarely, libraries and museums). Persons dealing with genealogy as professionals or amateurs, specialized centres and offices of genealogical queries, as well as internet discussion groups and notice-boards may also be helpful in the process of searching.

 

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