Sunday, September 14, 2008

Polish History and Genealogical Research - SDGS Program on 13 September

I attended the San Diego Genealogical Society meeting on Saturday, 13 September. Paul Lipinski, a former President of the Polish Genealogical Society of California, spoke on Polish History and Genealogical Research. The speaker presentation summary and curriculum vitae is posted here.

Paul's presentation was in two parts - a thorough review of the history of the area of Central Europe, which includes the area now called Poland, complete with maps and boundary line changes, language changes, etc. It's very confusing for many people, including myself, but the message was clear - you really need to know the political boundaries, the cultural landscape and the time frame in order to find records for a specific ancestral village in this area.

The second part of the talk was about the format and language that records can be found in depending on the time frame. He listed records for the Prussian partition, the Russian partition and the Austria partition. During this part of the presentation, Paul showed many examples of records with people highlighted. He talked a bit about the different calendar systems, and how the Roman Catholic churches in the area switched from Julian to Gregorian in 1582, but the Russian-controlled regions didn't switch until 1918. He touched on Jewish records only briefly, noting that they can occasionally be found in the Christian church records.

Paul's handout contained references to gazetteers available on microfilm from the FHL for the Polish, Prussian/German and Austrian regions of Poland. He also provided a list of websites of interest.

We all came away with a better understanding of the complexity of the different types of records in Poland and vicinity, and an admiration for research performed in four or more languages over several centuries.

Paul's talk was about an hour in length, so after the break for refreshments, there was a panel to answer questions from the audience about genealogy in general or particular. There were five of us, including myself and Paul. I may post some of the questions and answers during the next week or so.

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