"Polish Roots" - a Must-Read Book for Genealogy Research

I recommend this book to everybody who wants to do genealogy research in Poland. It is probably the most extensive English-language book devoted to genealogy research in Poland. It is especially directed to people in the USA and Canada with roots in Poland, including those from non-Polish ethnic groups.

Below is the link to the book:

Polish Roots

This book is written by Rosemary Chorzempa, a national director of the Polish Genealogical Society of America. Although published in 1993 and therefore a bit out-of-date regarding the use of the internet, it is still a great source of information, a sort of small encyclopedia about everything Polish but with an emphasis on genealogy research. It is concise in size and easy to read or use as a reference.

It contains a brief course on Polish history, geography of different regions that belonged to Poland at any time in the past; social life (class hierarchy and some heraldry); religious denominations and churches; and ethnic minorities that were present in Poland at different times. This short course on everything Polish is necessary for people to understand the intricacies that they will definitely encounter during their search for Polish ancestors. Polish history is complex, with borders changing several times during the past several centuries.

Researchers may ask the question - why did my Polish ancestors have Russian or Austrian citizenship - not realizing that Poland did not exist as a separate country on the world map for many years. Since Poland was occupied by Russia, Prussia, and Germany for almost 150 years before World War I, the author explains not only the complexity of Polish history, but also how to search for records available in the Russian and German languages. The photographs of the original records and the explanation of how to read them properly are very useful for any amateur researcher.

Ms. Chorzempa gives a short course on the Polish and Latin languages, especially useful genealogy terms. She explains the etymology of last names and gives a list of Polish and Ukrainian first names with their English equivalents and their namesday dates. The German and the Jewish customs in naming children are also explained.

The author will lead you step by step on starting your research, continuing the research through the archives available in America and in Poland, giving the addresses of the archives and where one can find the passengers lists available. Ms. Chorzempa uses the example of her own search for her family roots; she explains how to get the most information and what not to overlook. She explains how to search through the church records and the civil records, and to which items you must pay the most attention.

It is hard to write an interesting manual about genealogy but the author did a really good job! I read this book with great interest. It is highly informative and a good reference book with many helpful graphics - maps of Poland in different historic times and photocopies of actual records. "Polish Roots" is a must-read for everybody doing genealogy research in Poland.

copyrights by Jagoda Urban-Klaehn (article #259)
updated by Nancy Maciolek Blake, September 2005

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