When I got e-mail from a client who was looking for her ancestor Alexander Grimes, I was sure that the case won’t be easy. The name of Grimes does not sound like Polish at all. Adding to it that Alexander was Jewish, it was clear to me that he was born under completely diffrent name…
If our clients apply for Polish citizenship, we mostly work with birth, marriage, and death records. Unfortunately some of these documents were lost or destroyed during WW2. When faced with such difficulties, we do not surrender, but try to look for alternative sources of information.
Sometimes old photos found in grandma’s house bring a desire to find contact with a long lost family. We had only a few photos, a piece of a letter from 1950 ties, and two full names. No idea about the name of a town or village. Does it seem like a hard task? not for us.
Even if you think that you have some detailed, factual information about your ancestors you may have to come across one or two surprises once you start the research. And you will probably find a ton of new information and learn not only about facts such as dates of birth but also happy and tragic stories of your relatives. You might learn that they fought in a war or had many siblings to play with.
Our clients are sometimes interested in finding the houses their ancestors lived in as well as their burial places. It seems to be an easy task, especially if they have documents with the addresses of the people in question. But not everything is as easy as it seems and even if you have a detailed address you might hit a wall or find yourself lost in a park.
As a result of the border changes after WW2 some territories that used to be Polish are now located in other countries such as Ukraine. It poses some problems to genealogists as many metrical books may be still kept there. Border changes also meant that families were separated. These were the obstacles we had to overcome while trying to find both documents and living relatives of our client.
As it comes to the research based on the records not older than 100 years the story gets a bit more complicated. Polish law protects personal data and i.e. birth records issued after 1917 are not available to the public. The main goal of the research was to find any living relatives of Antoni who emmigrated in 1911. Therefore we had to visit the local Registry of Vital Records (USC) …
The request contained a very valuable information – the name of the place of origin of the family that emigrated to the US in early 1900’s. However, our client hit a brick wall – he could not locate that place on a map. That’s a very common challenge because of misspellings, boarder changes, etc. In such cases we usually try to reach the first documents issued in the US – the ship manifests, and spend some time to decipher names of towns…
Following the information and some old documents provided by our client we were able to figure out the place of origin of his family. The americanized versions of their first names were very different from the original Jewish spelling. We provided a comprehensive research in the National Archive of the Old Records in Warsaw and were able to reach as far back as late 1700s.
Having done the preliminary research we had a solid background to visit the Diocesan Archive in Gniezno where we continued our mission. We went through the vital records (births, marriages, deaths) from 1780’s to 1900 and came across over 50 relevant records! We have also learned the names of the villages and parishes our client’s ancestors came from so we immediately checked a local map and visited them.
Jason wanted to find traces of his family before his trip to Poland and Ukraine. His father and uncle were born in a small village located in Volyn Region, now a part of Ukraine. We found the village on an old map of Ukraine, unfortunatelly it did not exist on the contemporary one. The next step was to locate any of the records..
During the local research we usually try to focus on three activities: researching the vital records kept in a local parish, interviewing some older inhabitants of the village, checking the local cemetery in order to find grave of your ancestors. Visiting Lipinki we started with the parish office where we got access to books from 1826 to 1905.
During the local research we usually try to focus on three activities: researching the vital records kept in a local parish, interviewing some older inhabitants of the village, checking the local cemetery in order to find grave of your ancestors. Visiting Lipinki we started with the parish office where we got access to books from 1826 to 1905. A hudge number of records was found because our client’s grandfather had 14 siblings!
A Polish officer, a patriot and a bravest soul migrated to the United Kingdom to serve his Motherland in exile during the World War II. Our customer, the grandchild of the mentioned officer, wanted to find every little bit of information about the family in Poland. The research in the State Archive led us to two small villages: Sobianowice and Łysaków where we found much more..
Amanda asked us to trace her ancestors in Poland and check if there are any living relatives of her father. After a short mailing we had enough information to start advanced research. We visited two Polish archives, checked the vital records and found a proof that her family should still be living in the area. Afterwards, we provided a “local research”.
Initially, we started this case in the State Archive in Opole . Surprisingly, it turned out that the family moved a lot and it was necessary to check out other places as well. We hit the road and visted a few other the areas where ours clients’ family used to live for years. A local research we offered to our client brought some amazing results.
One of the longest and the most fruitful research made us visit 5 different archives. After over 2 years of an extensive archive research in Poland we were able to track family tree back to 1704. Afterwards we have visited 13 locations in different regions of Poland to show our customer what his ancestors’ places of origin look like nowadays.