We Dig These Gems! New Genealogy Records Online

Here’s our weekly roundup of cool new genealogy records online. Should you search any of these: an 1831 England census substitute; parish records for Hertfordshire; images of French forts in North America; Michigan death records; outgoing passenger lists for the US and War of 1812 pension records?

ENGLAND 1831 CENSUS SUBSTITUTE. There’s a new 1831 census substitute database at Findmypast!  England, Pollbooks and Directories 1830-1837  allows you to discover where your ancestors lived, how they earned a living and how they voted. This collection of assorted documents also plugs the important gap left by the lack of a complete 1831 census.”

ENGLAND PARISH REGISTERS. Findmypast now has a browsable collection of parish records for Hertfordshire. The collection spans 1538-1988: that’s 450 years and 1.9 million pages of baptisms, marriages and burials.

NEW FRANCE. Library & Archives Canada has published a new Flickr photo collection with images of North American forts built or captured by the French during the era of New France. It’s free to explore and the history is fascinating!

MICHIGAN DEATHS. A new collection of  Michigan Death Records, 1857-1960 is available to Ancestry.com subscribers. Death registers and certificates contain varying amounts of genealogical information.

US TRAVELERS ABROAD. Ancestry.com has a new database of departing passengers and crew from various U.S. locations (1916-1962) by ship and air. These include military transports. “Details requested on the forms varied, but they typically include the name of the vessel, departure date, ports of departure and destination, shipmaster, full name, age, gender, physical description, military rank (if any), occupation, birthplace, citizen of what country, and residence.” Later documents may include visa or passport information.

WAR OF 1812 PENSIONS (US). Images of pension records for US soldiers with surnames beginning A-M have been posted on Fold3, where they are available to view for FREE. This is part of the ongoing Preserve the Pensions project led by the Federation of Genealogical Societies. Click here to learn more and contribute to funding for this crowd-sourced effort.

google for genealogy quoteLooking for a specific type of record about your ancestor? Want to find more new genealogy records online yourself? Click here for step-by-step instructions on using Google to search for specific records.

 

Polish Genealogy: 4 Steps to Find Your Family History

Researching your Polish genealogy may seem a little intimidating at the start. Read these get-started tips from a Polish genealogy veteran at Legacy Tree Genealogists. Then you’ll know how to dive right into your Polish family history–and where to turn if you need a little help.

Polish genealogy

Thanks to Legacy Tree Genealogists for supplying this guest blog post. Legacy Tree employs researchers with a wide range of expertise. They asked their Polish expert, Julie, to share tips for finding Polish ancestors, based on her decades of experience.

If you’re an American researching your Polish ancestors, you aren’t alone. Polish Americans make up the largest Slavic ethnic group in the United States, second largest Central and Eastern European group, and the eighth largest immigrant group overall. So how do you begin tracing your roots in Poland?

Get Started: 4 Polish Genealogy Tips


1. Get to know the basics of Polish history.

Probably every Polish-American family has heard mention of the “border changes” that were supposedly the reason why Grandpa’s papers say he was from Austria, although everyone knew he was Polish. What many people don’t realize is that Poland did not exist as an independent nation from 1795 until 1918. Historically, Polish lands were partitioned among the Russian, Prussian, and Austrian Empires, and ethnic Poles were citizens of one of those three nations. This is why you might see your Polish ancestors stating Russian birth on the 1910 U.S. census, but Polish birth on the 1920 U.S. census, after Poland was reestablished as an independent nation.

By Rzeczpospolita_Rozbiory_3.png: Halibuttderivative work: Sneecs (talk) – Rzeczpospolita_Rozbiory_3.png, CC BY-SA 3.0, click to view on Wikipedia.

2. Determine your Polish ancestor’s religion.

Buffalo, New York. Children of the Polish community leaving church with baskets of food on the day before Easter. Library of Congress photo; digital image via Wikipedia. Click to view.

Although we in the U.S. are accustomed to the separation of church and state, this was not the case in many places. In Poland, it was common for priests, ministers, or rabbis to act as civil registrars, blending ecclesiastical and government authority as they recorded births, marriages, and burials. Although this was the protocol in all three partitions for the majority of the 19th century, the exact span of dates in which this was true vary based on the partition in which your ancestors lived, and greatly affects where you should be searching for the records you need. In “Russian Poland,” for example, civil record keeping began in 1808 with Roman Catholic priests acting as civil registrars for people of all faiths (not just Catholics). Beginning in 1826, each faith was allowed to keep its own civil records using a paragraph-style format that remained relatively stable through the 1930s. Civil registration that was independent of any religious organization did not begin until 1945.

The fact that civil copies of church records were made increases the likelihood that records survived for your ancestor’s town. There’s a persistent myth that “all the records were destroyed in the wars,” but that’s simply not true in most instances. Existing records for some locations date back to the 1600s, but in other places surviving records are sparser.

3. Use U.S. records to determine your ancestor’s precise place of origin.

Grandma may have said that her father came from Warsaw, but most of our ancestors came from small villages, not large cities. It’s more likely that her father was using Warsaw as a point of geographic reference to give people a rough idea of where he lived, since others are unlikely to recognize the name of a small village. This means that you most likely won’t find his birth record by looking for it in Warsaw, but it also leaves you in the dark about where to look instead.

What kinds of records are most likely to indicate a precise place of birth? Passenger manifests and petitions for naturalization (if dated after 1906) are great sources for this information. If your Polish ancestors were Catholic, church records from the parish they attended in the U.S. are much more likely to contain specific place of birth than their civil equivalents. These include marriage records for immigrants who married in the U.S., baptismal records for U.S.-born children of immigrants, and church death/burial records.

Click here for an article about a woman who found her Polish Catholic grandparents’ church marriage record–and with it their overseas birth place–at St. Stanislaus parish in Buffalo, NY. You’ll also learn tips for finding Catholic church records in the U.S.

If your ancestors were Jewish, check cemetery records for mention of any landsmannschaft to which they might have belonged. Landsmannschaften were fraternal aid societies organized by immigrants from the same town in Europe, and they frequently purchased large burial plots for their members.

4. Use a gazetteer to determine the parish or registry office that served your ancestor’s village.

Depending on which partition your ancestors came from, some good gazetteers include:

  • The Słownik geograficzny Królestwa Polskiego i innych krajów słowiańskich, or Geographical Dictionary of the Kingdom of Poland and Other Slavic Countries, published between 1880 and 1902 in 15 volumes. The SGKP is written in Polish.
  • The Skorowidz Królestwa Polskiego, which includes all of Russian Poland (officially known as the “Królestwo Polskie” or Kingdom of Poland) published in 1877. The SKP is mostly written in Polish with some text in Russian.
  • Kartenmeister, an easy-to-use online gazetteer for “German Poland” that covers East Prussia, West Prussia, Brandenburg, Posen, Pomerania, and Silesia. Kartenmeister can be searched using either the German or the Polish name for a town.
  • The Galician Town Locator, offered by Gesher Galicia, is another easy-to-use resource that covers the historic Galicia region, which was a part of the Austrian Empire that is now split between Poland and Ukraine.
  • The JewishGen Gazetteer is a phonetic gazetteer to assist in identifying the correct location in cases where your ancestor’s place of origin is misspelled on U.S. records. It covers areas throughout Central and Eastern Europe.

Once you have correctly identified both your ancestor’s place of birth and the location of his place of worship or civil records office, you’re ready to make the jump back to records in Poland.

Get Expert Help with Your Polish Genealogy Questions

We at Legacy Tree Genealogists would be honored to assist you with any step along the way in your journey to discover your ancestral origins, including onsite research if needed. Our experts have the linguistic and research skills to efficiently find your family. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Exclusive offer for Genealogy Gems readers: Save $100 on a 20-hour research project using code GG100, valid through October 31st, 2017.

 

New Genealogy Book Club Pick: WWI-Era Novel by NYT Bestseller

The new featured title of our genealogy book club has been announced. We’re guessing this NYT-bestselling British novelist will win your heart, if she didn’t already with her breakout first novel.

A smart young woman who’s traveled the world finds herself suddenly in a much more provincial setting: East Sussex, England. She spends the summer distracted by petty local politics, financial frustrations and the beginnings of a possible romance. Then the Great War begins–not so far from her new home.

That’s the premise of British author Helen Simonson’s new novel, The Summer Before the War, and our newest Genealogy Gems Book Club title. Those who have been waiting for Helen’s follow-up to her stunning debut, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, won’t be disappointed. Her first book became a New York Times bestseller and has been translated into 21 languages. The Summer Before the War is another great read: light and charming, with a dash of romance and humor, a lovable heroine and a compelling historical setting. It’s so easy to read and love this book!

It’s the early 1900s, and main character Beatrice Nash has recently lost her father. The estate settlement lost her control over her own funds and freedom. She comes to a small English town as a Latin teacher and must mind her manners and local politics to keep her job. Beatrice meets a man and the appeal appears mutual, but he’s already engaged.

This isn’t just Beatrice’s story, though. You’ll meet an entire buy psoriasis medication online village full of charming and irascible and expatriate and unconventional and way-too-conventional and mysterious characters, including the local gentry and the local gypsies. They all have their own stories, which unfold as they begin to experience the first great shock of the 20th century close-up: World War I. First it’s the stunned refugees who take refuge in their village. Then locals begin enlisting. Eventually you’ll see the battlefront through their eyes, but not all of them may make it back to the town that to Beatrice is becoming home.

Genealogy Book Club Podcast Interview with Helen Simonson

genealogy book club Helen Simonson Summer before the war Major PettigrewDespite the awful realities her characters face, Helen Simonson somehow writes a novel that is easy and enjoyable to read. I ask her how she did that–and lots of other questions–in an exclusive interview coming this June on the Genealogy Gems podcasts. You’ll hear more about the idyllic setting she chose and her personal connection to it; how she researched the historical setting; and what it’s like to be an emigrant who longed to leave home and now misses it dearly.

Get Your Copy & Support the Free Podcast Featuring Author Interviews

So snatch up a copy from our links here (which support the free podcast–thank you!) or your local library. And let us know what you love about it!

Get the Kindle ebook – The Summer Before the War: A Novel

Get the print book – The Summer Before the War: A Novel

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Click here to download the DNA handout   Listen to the free Genealogy Gems Podcast with Lisa Louise Cooke Are you listening to The Genealogy Gems Podcast yet? This free audio show helps you make the most of your family history research time by providing quick and...

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