Amber: Hey everyone, and thanks for joining us for another Legacy Tree live broadcast. My name is Amber Brown I’m the Marketing Director at Legacy Tree Genealogists, and I’m here with Michelle Chubenko our European research team lead, and she’s answering questions that users submitted on our website at Legacy tree.com/live. In case you haven’t noticed we’re broadcasting live from RootsTech. Drop a comment below and let us know where you’re joining us from.
Just FYI the expo hall does open up in about an hour, so we’re going to try and get to as many questions as we can in the next little bit before it gets to be a zoo in here. So we’ll get to as many questions as those that were submitted and we’ll also try and take a few live questions, if you want to drop it in the comments below, and we’ll try and take a couple of those. If we don’t get to it during the broadcast, we’ll try and follow up afterwards and respond to those comments.
In case you missed it, this is not Michelle’s first time doing a Legacy Tree Live broadcast with us, she did one about a year and a half ago. Michelle is brilliant, she’s like a walking gazetteer. So if you want to check that out, you can subscribe to our YouTube channel. We have it posted there, and I’ll drop a link to that in the comments below.
Okay so for the broadcast today, we actually have a special thank you for our live viewers, at the end of the broadcast will be sharing an exclusive offer just for you. So make sure you stick around and check that out.
Okay. Don’t waste any time ’cause we have a lot of questions you guys.
Amber: So let’s just get going while the clock is ticking.
Michelle: Mhh um.
Amber: Okay, so this first question comes from Edwin, Edwin if you’re watching, just give us a thumbs up and a like so we know you’re here. His question is, “My paternal grandfather came to the US in 1914 with his younger brother, how can I find out more details? For example, what city in Russia did he come from? What ship did he come here on? How many children did he have? And what was his wife’s maiden name?”
Michelle: Okay well that question is full of lots of avenues of research. The best way to document any immigrant ancestor is to gather records that substantiate life events for them. Their death certificate, we always work backwards so you wanna start with their death certificate, then move back to obtaining their marriage certificate to place them in specific localities, censuses whether they’re in the United States we have censuses available to us through 1940 or in Canada, you know you have censuses through 1911 available to you. So, there are other avenues to kind of place them and trace them through censuses, city directories for residents so you can document and find the proper location of the children’s births.
Additionally, immigrants may choose to become citizens of the countries they move to, so naturalization records are extremely helpful because they also add that particular detail of getting the answer to what ship did they come on and when did they get here. So naturalization records are very helpful.
If your immigrant ancestor did not naturalize both the United States and Canada did do an alien registration in 1940. So those records may be able to assist you as well.
There are many free resources for documenting arrivals, passenger list FamilySearch is one of those free account you can sign up have a free account and you know, try and locate a passenger list.
Amber: Perfect thank you Michelle, that gives you some good avenues to start your research. Okay, so here’s a good question. And I think a lot of users can relate to this one. “What are the most useful Polish genealogical websites?” So do you have a few favorites, maybe like a top three?
Michelle: I do, I do James, thanks for asking this question. I have a lot of favorites for doing Polish research.
The first and foremost the Szukajwarchiwach or Search the Archives, which is the digital portal for the Polish State Archives. Additionally a huge shout shout out to the Polish society [Polskie Towarzystwo Genealogiczne] who hosts a Geneteka. It’s an amazing volunteer effort to index all of the metrical records so that’s like my second favorite, as well as many of the regional Polish state archives that I particularly use, have their own digital portals such as Przemyśl, pronounced Per-i-mesh or Shem-esh, depending if you say it in Polish or Ukrainian,, as well as other regional ones that have their records that they’re digitizing and they’re not fully integrated with (foreign language)
Another for Polish research is FamilySearch. I would say about 99% of the records microfilm has been digitized. While I do recognize that some of the films are not available for viewing at home, they are accessible at a local family history center or right here in Salt Lake at the family history library.
Amber: Perfect, great thank you Michelle. And if you have another favorite resource that we didn’t mention feel free to drop that in the comments and we’ll kind of crowdsource that–all share our favorites.
Okay so this next question comes from Per Olaf. I hope I’m saying that right.
“I have an ancestor that I believe died in Poland in the early 1600s. I have tried to go further and find who he was, where he came from, and where died with some success, but not enough.” Per Olaf then also included some additional details, and you had a chance to review that a little bit before the broadcast. There was a long page of biographical details.
-Michelle: Yes. Many of us would like to just break into the 19th century with our immigrant ancestors. Per Olaf is very lucky to to document his lineage back to the 1600s. Getting earlier than that with residents of the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth, unless they were, local nobility or even higher in the social strata, it might be difficult. Because Roman Catholic Church records, a good portion of them, do start in the 1600s, but rarely go earlier than that.
So if the family that you’re researching is local nobility, you might have more luck of documenting that using nobility records at the Polish State Archives.
Amber: Great. Okay so this question comes from David, he says “To my great surprise, upon DNA testing I learned that I was 25% Lithuanian Jew, and I can’t find anyone in two or three generations back that match. Where do I go from here?”
Michelle: Okay, well, twofold question there. A match of about 25% represents that you have Jewish grandparents. So, you need to entertain the idea of a misattributed parentage for in that generation. And then kind of look at the matches that you do have that you can associate with common Jewish ancestry to see if you can triangulate a common family in that area and kind of work from that.
It will take time to kind of do that that’s something, our genetic genealogists do all the time I was trying to, find that connection. Additionally, keep in mind that you know depending on where your family immigrated, or when they immigrated to either it’s the UK or to North America, they may have changed religions and that, descendants today don’t know that, a certain grant, grandparents couple was Jewish and then adopted a new faith when they move to take away some of the religious persecution that they learned behind.
Amber: Sure that’s a great point. That’s a great point. And David to also answer your question we have several Legacy Tree Live broadcasts that focus on DNA research, those would be a great resource.
Also our blog has a lot of free research articles and advice. You can check that out at legacytree.com/blog, and I’ll drop the link to our YouTube channel to subscribe and view those video replays on there as well.
Okay so this question comes from Susan, she says “We’ve been trying to locate our father’s family originally from Futory, Poland prior to World War Two. We live in Australia. We have been told that Premezyl archives has a 100 year Privacy Rule. This is so disappointing.”
Michelle: Okay, well you’re in my neighborhood in southeast Poland and port Krakowski province, so not to worry. Yes, I would say the hundred year Privacy Rule that applies to birth records and what you need to determine Przemyśl, depending on that’s that archive I was talking about Amber.
You know, you can look for other records that may be available to you, Bishops copies of the church records, while civil registration you know, since you didn’t give the birth year of the the person Can’t really hone in on giving more specific, but depending on the religion, you have the Archdiocese archives in Przemyśl, as well as the Polish state archives in Przemyśl and Sanok, who potentially hold records for that region, and you might be able to kind of cross over into that and don’t forget cadastral map records. They have householder lists that you might be able to use as well.
Amber: So ways to circumvent that. Check out those suggestions.
Okay, this question comes from Dave, and this is a question that we see frequently. So Dave you’re not alone in this. He says “I’m unable to trace exactly where my mother’s family came from. Every document I have found says only that they come from Austria, Hungary or Austria-Hungary. No town or city is listed.
Michelle: I feel your pain
Amber: Never ending question right?
Michelle: Never ending question. And similarly, those who are doing research and you have all the documents that say Russia, you know it’s parallel. What I would say is you need to broaden the scope of the records you’re gathering.
If you have their naturalization record, and again depending I don’t have timeframe to kind of correlate specific record sets, but naturalization records. if you don’t have them, I would gather them. Post 1906 you’re going to get a specific hometown birthplace or at least the largest city in the region that they identified with, as well as that gives you the link to the passenger list and post 1892 passenger lists have some type of town notification I’m sorry, prior to that the US government did not require that information on the passenger list. So you know we do I do understand that.
The other is church records. Regardless if you’re a Christian or Jewish, you might want to look to religious records for some type of detail on an answer through homeland, particularly for Jewish ancestors. You know the section within a cemetery may tell you the hometown because they belong to a burial society for you know that had connections relating to that geographic area.
Amber: Okay this question comes from Caroline. She says, “How can I find out if the family rumors that the Szateks?
Amber: Szateks from Poland have any royal blood? Apparently we were Szatekowskis and from Hungary, hence the “sz” initial letters.”
Michelle: Okay, well twofold we addressed nobility just a little bit before we pair all ups questioning but there are nobility records at the Regional Archives that can be accessed with onsite or they have not been microfilmed by FamilySearch. So you do need on site research to do that.
The SZ versus CH and other you know transliteration pieces that we see going from the Hungarian language to Polish and maybe to English. It’s good that you try to recognize some spellings into giving indication. Keep in mind for the Austria Hungary, the Austria Hungary or the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary, it’s a dual monarchy. So if you have family that is from Hungary, the Kingdom of Hungary, travel into the Austrian provinces, such as Galicia, for nobility may or may not have been common, but again those nobility records could assist you. And they would have you know, if they owned land in the locality, you’ve document them to, look to notarial records to gather an additional aspect of their lives in that area.
Amber: Perfect thank you. Okay let’s jump in and grab a live question real quick. This one comes from Mindy Schooner Chinworth. Hi Mindy thanks for joining us. And she says, “I’m hitting a brick wall on ancestors from 1896 Austria and 1838 in Poland. What is the best source?” Do you have any suggestions for what she can do to possibly overcome those brick walls and it doesn’t say what the brick wall is, but maybe your favorite resources for that time period and area.
Michelle: Okay, well the number one resource that we look to, to do Polish research or you know, research in Austria is the metrical records, metrical records to those in North America we are more familiar with the term sacramental registers, but the mental metrical records for births, marriages and deaths. Up until, the beginning of the 20th century, those were the civil they acted also as the civil records for the Austrian Government. So when your child was baptized, or brought to temple, your child was, that was the registration for the birth. For the civil authority. So metrical records are key.
Additionally, if you’re that far back 1838 you might want to look to the earlier cadastral Records, the land holder or house owner records, those are accessible only at the Regional Archives. So, you’re going to need an onsite person to do that.
Amber: Perfect thank you so much I appreciate it. Good luck Mindy with your research efforts. Okay we also have a live question from Diana. And she says, “Most of my family came from Ukraine, or Belorussia. What websites should I use for my research?”
Michelle: Okay, well let’s address Ukrainian first, the Ukrainian state archives, large portion of most well I should say about a third of the provinces or oblasts have been microfilmed by FamilySearch and you can get some sets of records on FamilySearch.
The same for Belarus is a much smaller subset of records. However, for Ukraine, particularly on site, as well as Belarus I apologize you’re into need on site because the records are just not digitized. They’re not available or or microfilmed. So once you identify the ancestral hometown, you can then identify the the records are held.
Now as I give my advice, records are held potentially at five different locations. You have the state historical archives, you have the oblast archive, you can have the Civil Registry Office, you can have the local church or religious organization may still hold on to records as well as local museums that metrical records have made it into private hands, they’re no longer held by the governmental entities. So you know, you do have to look in a broad sense of research to find out where records are located.
Amber: Perfect, okay let’s get back into the submitted questions but real quick, shout out to a couple of our viewers: hi Deborah from Flagstaff Arizona. Christine’s joining us. Hi Christy. We see Jim– Hi Jim.
Okay, let’s take a question. I feel like we’re gonna run out of time. “Okay, do you have any advice?” This comes Jamie sorry. “Do you have any advice on contacting national or regional archives in Eastern Europe, if you don’t speak, read or write the language?” Well, this is a good one. “It seems like even navigating a website to determine what the process is for requesting records is a hurdle. And it is usually necessary to find someone to translate a records inquiry into the local language. Are there any other tips on proper protocol or etiquette?” Ooh, that’s good.
Michelle: That’s a good one and one that you know I deal with every day. Contacting the archives and such. So what I would say if you’re translating your inquiry, if you want to take a jaunt on your own, and you’re going into a language that is, if you’re going to live doing research in Lithuania Belarus, any of the old Russian Empire, countries, as well as Poland or any of them. Google Translate if you write simply, can work for you. The best if you’re doing for Ukrainian sometimes what I might do if I trying to do something on the quick is I might write out my sentence and I find that Google Translate when you go to Russian and then Russian to Ukrainian, the translation is much better instead of directly English into Ukrainian so so Google Translate has its nuances. Secondarily protocol, keep your requests simple and directed to potentially just direct ancestors to kind of get your feet wet and knowing what the processes you can also if you’re, since this is Facebook there are many Facebook groups that you can come to for advice. There’s the the Galicia family history group. There’s the Ukrainian genealogy groups. Same thing for Lithuanian, in the Jewish groups as well Tracing the Tribe is a very large one that is very busy. Our Facebook group, there are plenty of fellow researchers who can give you their quarters worth of advice as well and guidance.
Amber: Perfect. Thank you, okay this question comes from…I missed the name on this and I apologize so if this is your question, give us a like so that I know that you’re here and that we’re answering your questions. So he says that “My great grandfather was born in the mid-1800s in Kharkiv, Ukraine. I would like to try to find his birth or baptism record, but I don’t know which church or parish his family belonged to. And I’m sure there were many in such a large city. I know his parents name and I believe they were Orthodox. Do you have any recommendations on where to start from here?”
Michelle: I do actually. So Kharkiv–
Amber: So she’s the expert I just go through.
Michelle: So for the city Kharkiv, as opposed to the Kharkov, all Gubernia so pre-World War I, it was part of Imperial Russia. So you have the Gubernia on that, cover that territory. But if you believe your family is from the city, yes there were multiple Russian Orthodox churches and what the record set that will help you to determine residents are revision lists. So unfortunately Kharkiv oblast that structure today in the Family History Library catalog. The records are the popular, popularity of the records have not been made available or they didn’t finish oblast when the contract expired for onsite microfilming. So you are going to need an on site person to get to the local archives, identify the revision lists and locate the family there and then hone in on what would be the local or closest Orthodox Church to find the actual church records.
Amber: Perfect, so we do have a couple of follow up questions, specific to on site researchers.
Amber: So this comes from Terry he says, “How do we find on site researchers?” And then Chris he also said, “When you say on site researchers, is that something that Legacy Tree does?”
Michelle: Okay so to answer yes we have a network of on site researchers that we use for our projects. So I do have plenty of researchers that I reach out to constantly to get our projects completed get the records from Ukraine, Poland, Hungary, so yes. So to find on site researchers, there are many of the Facebook groups recommendations from people who have used on site researchers, there are plenty of people who give you their their buyers review, of how it goes. Two ways of having us complete the full project, do the research and assemble all the information. And present it to you or if you’re looking for one specific record, hiring individual persons to do that for you.
Amber: Perfect, and just as a follow up we’re certainly not limited to Eastern European on sites, we have on site network all over the world. So literally we can access almost any archive worldwide. So feel free to reach out to us if that’s something that you need assistance with.
Okay this next question comes from Kathy and she says, “Is Prussia considered Eastern European when it comes to ancestors origin. How does one research this?”
Michelle: Okay. That’s a yes and no question or answer for your question. So, East Prussia, which would be a northern Poland today, so part of what we would potentially consider the entire Kingdom of Prussia, a sliver of it does kind of fall in the Eastern European definition.
So again church records may be available or the metrical records at the Polish State Archives. Remember that these old empires or kingdoms the three that ruled Europe prior to World War I, the Imperial Russia, Austria Hungary and and Germany and the Prussian Empire, Prussia, Kingdom of Prussia, basically the successor states kept the records. Very few record sets were moved back to the home countries. So you know you’re going to be looking locally in the modern countries today for records.
Amber: Got it. Okay this question comes from Deborah. And it’s full of words I’m going to mess up. So I apologize in advance. She says that “my grandmother, Ewa Ciurko was born circa 1890, in Lezachow, now Poland, and was Greek Orthodox. I found out that all the local church records were destroyed in 1915. Is there any any other way of tracing her roots? I know almost nothing about my grandmother. What I do know is that she always maintained she was Ruthenian and that her father was Ignace or Ignatz, and considered a White Russian. What does that mean and is there any hope of finding out her roots?”
Michelle: Okay, so tough question. So 1915 my presumption is that that is right smack dab in the middle of World War I. So the town may have had records loss due to a military front coming through. You might, if the church records the local church records are destroyed, you might want to investigate again, remember I talked about those five different levels for the particular religions. There are Bishop copy since you mentioned that they were Orthodox. I’m not sure Lezachow if it was in Austria or the Russian partition. So you’re going to look for what’s called bishops copies or consistent real copies for them. They may not be locally but they may be at a diocesan archive depending on additionally you want to look to notarial records or cadastral house owner lists to assist you with that. And if they’re in the Russian partition you’re looking at revision lists as well. Which are sort of like a census but not exactly.
Amber: Perfect. Okay this question comes from Brian, he says, “My wife’s grandparents came from Eastern Europe at the turn of the century. Her paternal grandparents were from what is now considered South Eastern Poland, and her maternal grandparents from Slovenia. Unfortunately they are all deceased and the family has very little information about their lives before coming to America. As we attempt to put their birth information together, we’re using multiple sources, such as immigration and naturalization records, gazeteers.”
Amber: Good job forgetting all those sources.
Amber: “But we’re having a hard time determining the current name of their towns, administrative districts and other location information. Is there a good source to trace changes in the names of these locations over the past 125 years? Specifically, we’re looking at southeastern Poland former Galicia and Slovenia.”
Michelle: Okay so both are part of the Austrian Hungarian Empire particularly the Austria South East Poland would be Galicia whereas Slovenia would be one of the other crown lands of the Austrian Empire. There are gazeteers, a set of gazeteers called the Mind of Lexicon of the crown lands place name dictionary for the crown land. So identifying if you’re finding the record the town name, you can use these gazeteers to find out what district they’re in. And once you identify the district, which you can use Wikipedia in the native language. So if you’re looking for something in Poland, or Slovenian, do check out the the native language versions for them. And you can do a search of the town name, and you probably find a page that is much more populated than the English version.
In an English version, you might just get a stub, where it tells you yes it’s part of Poland. Whereas in the native language you may get more detail such as history, famous residents, picture of the church or some other notable physical location. So the local gazeteers can help you do that and basically translate it and get it to the historical the historical into the modern location of that area. Again any specific questions, post it in the comments
Michelle: And we’ll see if we can address it for you.
Amber: Absolutely and Brian just as a follow up Michelle actually wrote a blog article for us specifically about finding vital records in Galacia in Austria-Hungary, so be sure to check that and I’ll add a link to that in the comments below.
Amber: Okay this one’s nice and short and sweet. Nicola wants to know if we can research in Croatia.
Michelle: Yes we can we have done several successful projects in research in Northwestern Croatia near the Italian and Slovenian border, we’ve done it also some down in Rab Island area all of that the historic provinces of Küstenland and Dalmatia, which make up today’s Croatia or parts of Croatia was kind of sliced from that at post World War I. So now we have the records at the Croatian State Archives, as well as the microfilm records at FamilySearch and on site researchers kind of put the full picture together for us.
Amber: So we got you let us know.
Okay, traffic is starting to pick up here in the expo hall and we’re about out of time, so we’re going to go ahead and end this broadcast. But before we go, make sure you like the Legacy Tree Genealogists Facebook page and that way you can get notifications of upcoming broadcasts. You can also subscribe to our blog at legacytree.com/blog. We share research tips, articles and advice once a week from our team of genealogists. And if you’re in need of genealogy research help absolutely contact us we’re here to help you research worldwide. You can request a free quote on our website at legacytree.com. And as promised we do have an exclusive offer for our live viewers. You can receive 50 dollars off any full service research project by mentioning code LIVE50. That’s LIVE50. Thanks for joining us and we’ll see you again next time.
For more information on tracing your European ancestors, view our European Genealogy Research page.