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Genealogy Trip to Poland, tips requested

8 Feb 2017 #1
Hello everyone,

My father and I are doing a genealogy trip to Poland later this month, and I could use some advice.

First - language. We trace our ancestry from south of Tarnow in a collection of small farming villages. I am fluent in both German and English, my dad only speaks English. Can we get by using these two languages, or should we hire a translator from the area to tag along for a few days? We are anticipating sleeping in either Tarnow or Krakow, so I figure there would be university students who would be down for 50€ a day + food to do translating. Is this necessary, or can we get by with my German and English?

Second - searches. We are anticipating hitting the cemeteries in the villages we can trace our roots to as well as baptismal records and tax records. As far as we have researched, this part of Poland avoided most of the chaos over the last 100 years. Cemeteries were for the most part left alone and not paved over by the Ukrainians or the Soviets like it was farther East.

Given we as well as our ancestors are Catholic, we expect most marriage certificates, baptism certificates, funeral documents and what not to have survived. The question is would the local parish still have these documents on site, or would these documents have been collected in a central depository?

Third - language software. Can anyone recommend language crash-course software suited for tourists? I'd love to be able to at least speak a little Polish before going into restaurants and hotels. I think its a bit of "Respektlos" when I cannot speak any of the language in the country in which I am in.

Any other suggestions for the trip, or ideas on where/what we can search?


kadamus 1 | 6
9 Feb 2017 #2
Hello. Do you have any marriage certificates, baptism certificates, funeral documents your ancestors? If you haven't this will be hard to find something. If you have date of birth, marriage or death your ancestors and their first name and last name, I can look for something about them.
Archive Dweller
9 Feb 2017 #3
Records that have been closed for 100 years can be found in the Archives in Warsaw. Birth, death, and marriage records were kept by the Church during the Hapsburg occupation. These records are available in the Archive on microfilm. Usually, someone in the archives speaks English and can offer some help finding the right index to search to get the microfilm. Military records from the Galician Army are in the archives, but have not been indexed or filmed, and may take two weeks to access if one finds documents of interest. Other records from Galician censuses are more mysterious, and are reported to have been damaged in a fire.

If the records have been closed for less than 100 years, the seeker must be able to prove to be a direct descendant to access that information, and then only what pertains to him/her will be released. That will not be in the archives yet, but in another government office in Warsaw, which I can't exactly remember where it is.

NB: Church records were kept in Latin. Hapsburg era documents are in German and Polish.
TheOther 6 | 3,635
9 Feb 2017 #4
Usually, someone in the archives speaks English

In my experience, English speaking staff is still much more difficult to find in the state archives than German speaking staff. Might be different though in Warsaw.
Archive Dweller
9 Feb 2017 #5
The main archive in Warsaw usually has someone who can help someone in English, but not always at the first desk. It can take a few minutes before an English speaker can be found. More problematic for the OP is the fact that the indexes are in Polish, and the church record books are handwritten entries in Latin in fountain pen rather than being certificates. Viewing the microfilm can get very monotonous, and cause eye strain. Some indexes may be found online:
There is WiFi in the research room, so bring a laptop for translation. Google translate is far from perfect, but one can get a sense of what is in a particular set of records from the index heading. What is in those records could be in German, Russian, or Polish, depending on the time and the place.
TheOther 6 | 3,635
9 Feb 2017 #6
the church record books are handwritten entries in Latin in fountain pen

I know. Early 1700's church books are a nightmare to decipher sometimes.

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