Working with Old Polish Church Records

Old Polish church records are usually written in narrative paragraph form versus using a columnar form with headings. Name spellings are often altered depending on their grammatical context. It can be a challenge to determine the 'normal' forms we typically use. Some of the spelling peculiarities in old records may be due to Latin language influences. Not only have spelling patterns changed over time but so have pronunciation patterns which affect spelling. Here's a rundown of some general observations I made as I worked with old church records:

Koźmin Wielkopolski Parish Records

Photo of St. Lawrence Church in Koźmin Wielkopolski in 2001.

Déjà vu -- The Graphics File Format

By now, most of us are familiar with PDF files as a way of sharing documents over the internet. PDF files can sometimes be large and take a long time to download. The DJVU (pronounced déjà vu) file format, while not as ubiquitous as PDF, provides excellent resolution of graphics/text and smaller file sizes. On one recent project, I prepared a file as a PDF and a DJVU file. The DJVU file was only about one third the size of the PDF and looked better! Why should I know about DJVU? Many archival materials that are made available over the internet use it for the reasons cited above.

Polish Military Alliance of America

The Polish Military Alliance of America is best described in its own words beginning on page 19 of its reception and ball program booklet from January 9, 1918. I have fixed a few spelling/grammar errors and have italicized anything I added or changed. After the description I provide a link to the program booklet for downloading, a description of how this booklet was obtained and finally an alphabetical list of names in the booklet.

Eight Hundred Pound Gorillas

Question: Where does an 800 pound gorilla sit?
Answer: Anywhere it wants.

Not My Family

Family Tree is a free public collaborative genealogical source on familysearch.org which everyone should know about. Think about how many family historians who pass away each year and whose lifetime of research is lost because the family doesn't know what to do with it or doesn't care. By putting your information on Family Tree, it is preserved for future generations. And did I mention it's free? What's more, your portion of the tree can grow as others find new sources of information to add to yours.

Gostycyn, pow. Tuchola, POLAND

Film # 72032 (DGS # 007949097)
Item 1 is a baptismal register for Gostycyn, pow. Tuchola, POLAND. It begins with lists of male persons and their fathers from 1797-1808. The dates might be birth dates. I did not index these lists. Since females are not listed, I am assuming these lists were kept for army conscription purposes.

Common Indexing Errors

As someone who has indexed thousands of names and used numerous name indexes, I feel qualified to point out some of the errors one typically finds in indexed records. Experience in correctly* reading handwriting and familiarity with Polish names in general are definite assets. But too often many indexes were prepared by people who do not have much if any skill reading Polish records. There are three fundamental types of indexing errors we encounter.

Editing Census Record Indexes

Large scale Polish immigration grew after the first group of Polish immigrants arrived in Panna Maria, Texas in 1854. So Poles appear in the 1860 US Census and each one thereafter. Familysearch.org now lets you edit names in all the US census indexes. This is a fairly recent development (as of this update in July 2021) since for some census years, editing had not been allowed.

Dziennik Chicagoski Index History, etc.

This is one of those historical explanations of how the Dziennik Chicagoski death index came to be and changes it has undergone.

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