Mike Rosenzweig, Ph. D. has traveled extensively in Central Europe in search of his family history. His travels have taken him throughout Poland from the Baltic Sea in the north to the Tatras Mountains in the south. Since his ancestors have come from the province of Kielce, most of his research has centered in that district. Many of his predecessors lived in tiny shtetls containing two or three dozen families. His father was born in the town of Promnik which currently has less than one hundred residents and one listed phone number. His father's parents came from the even smaller towns of Snochowice and Piotrowiec. Mike's mother was born in the town of Busko-Zdroj and his mother's parents came from Chmielnik. In his extensive research of the Kielce, Pinczow, Chmielnik, Lopushno and many other Archives, Dr. Rosenzweig has found records of more than 250 relatives spanning five generations. The oldest records go back to the middle of the 18th century.
When asked what advice he would give to new genealogy researchers, Dr. Rosenzweig replied:
The most important thing is discipline. You have to stick to it no matter how frustrating things get. You can spend days searching through archives and not find a single record. The very next day might be the one in which you will find a dozen relatives. If your research take you to Poland the following recommendations would facilitate success in your work.
- Try to find out the names of the province, district, and towns that your relatives came from. In Poland there can be a half dozen towns with the same name, each from a different region of the country. Be aware that town names have changed depending upon who the current occupying power was at the time (e.g. Wroclaw was Breslaw).
- If you are planning to travel to Poland write to the National Archives Office in Warsaw to get your permit to do research in regional archives.
- Hire the best translator you can find. In this case cost is not a guarantee of quality.
- The characteristics of a good translator are: a) fluent knowledge of English, Polish and Russian (records of the years 1868-1918 were kept in Russian), b) a friendly, outgoing personality ( the clerks at the archives can be and often are uncooperative, so the charms of your translator can go a long way), c) someone who is comfortable at doing dull, tedious, and boring work, d) and is able to decipher handwriting that varies from fine penmanship to chicken scratches - there is more of the latter than the former.
- Be prepared to offer gratuities.
- Be flexible, patient, and realistic in your expectations. The conditions of the records at the archives are generally in complete disarray. The clerks have only the faintest idea of what records exist under their jurisdiction. Expect to be told that the records you desire are at another location. But they generally are not there. In truth no one really knows where they are! Luck and persistence are the greatest factors in successful searches.
Dr. Rosenzweig would be happy to answer any specific questions pertaining to the area of genealogy and is available as a consultant.
Click here to send him an email
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