Welcome!

Welcome to my Polish blog! My Polish great grandpa was orphaned during the Chicago flu epidemic of 1918 & spent his life looking for all of his siblings. Some family stayed in Chicago & some returned to Poland. Some family was Catholic, & some are believed to be Jewish. I post the things I learn in efforts it may help someone else in their research. I also hope this blog helps me connect with others that know about the people I'm learning about. Digital images of records or links are put inside most postings so you can view records full screen. I encourage comments. Feel free to sign the guestbook, stating who you're looking for. Maybe we can all help each other out this way, because there are many challenges with Polish research. I hope you enjoy learning with me. And I hope to be taught more about my Polish heritage.
I have added a few languages to this blog through Google translate. I hope that it may be accurate enough with the communication of ideas.
Thanks! -Julie

Witam! (Polish translation of Welcome)

Witam w moim polskim blogu! Mój pradziadek został osierocony w czasie epidemii grypy w 1918 roku i spędził wiele lat poszukując swojego rodzeństwa. Część rodziny pozostała w Chicago a część wróciła do Polski. Część rodziny była katolikami a część, jak przypuszczam, wyznania mojżeszowego. Piszę w moim blogu o rzeczach które odkrywam i o których dowiaduję się mając nadzieję, że pomogą one wszystkim zainteresowanym w ich własnych poszukiwaniach. Wierzę, że ten blog pomoże mi w skontaktowaniu się z ludźmi którzy wiedzą coś na temat osób ktorych poszukuję. Zdjęcia cyfrowe lub linki umieszczone są w większości moich komentarzy i artykułów, można więc otworzyć je na cały ekran. Gorąco zachęcam do komentarzy. Proszę wpisać się do księgi gości i podać kogo Państwo szukacie. Może będziemy mogli pomóc sobie nawzajem, ponieważ nie jest łatwo znaleźć dane których szukamy. Mam nadzieję, że zainteresuje Państwa odkrywanie ze mną tajemnic przeszłości. Mam rówież nadzieję poznać lepiej moje polskie dziedzictwo.

Dodałam do mojego blogu automatyczne tłumaczenia poprzez Google. Ufam, że będą wystarczające w zrozumieniu o czym jest mowa w artykułach i komentarzach.

Dziękuję! - Julie

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Kliknij na flagę, aby zobaczyć w języku polskim

15 December 2014

New Holocaust Survivors database

Kurt Mathia is an expert Jewish genealogy researcher working with familysearch.org. I wanted to share the latest message he sent me, thinking this would be of interest to many researchers, and people just trying to learn more about their family post WWII. Here's the message:

13 Dec 2014:
"We visited at Yad Vashem last week. They will be adding a Holocaust Survivors database to the existing Shoah database and will want pages of testimony submitted. By the way, they need many more pages of testimony for the Shoah database. Only about 3,000,000 have been submitted according to the archivist we spoke to."

My reply back: 13 Dec 2014
That is wonderful! And truly impressive. This will be a great resource to the many Polish Catholic researchers in addition to Jewish genealogists, as many Polish Catholics were also in camps. Thanks for the info.

24 November 2014

organizing my digital genealogy and cemetery pictures

This is a copy of the post I did today for my Virginia blog. I wish I had lots of Polish family cemetery pictures! Virginia pictures are easier for me because I live in Virginia. I have been frequently asked  to explain my organizing and why. So I thought I'd do this post here too. All of it can apply to this blog too, as far as organizing digital records, except I won't have cemetery slide shows to post on this blog. 
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I've taken a lot of pictures! I've also scanned many files. I've studied how professional archivists and professional photographers organized their pictures, with 10,000+ files. One problem I found, was that the typical way of storing (and default way of my computer) is lots of folders by date. But sometimes folders get stuck inside of other folders. When I first made the goal of going as folder free as possible, I found I had over 2,000 duplicate files! If one file was stored in say Jun 2009 and the same file stored in Nov 2011, the file could be duplicated and stored twice. I've been asked by a lot of people how I organize my files. I hope this post may help.

All the effective organization systems I read about, stored files by date, without folders. I had previously stored them by surname, in surname folders. Sort of a digital way of the old paper filing system. But of course surnames can overlap, causing duplicates. I found that using Windows 7, I could easily search files, so all my files could be stored in one large folder and I could still easily find a file in seconds. I started relabeling my files, and immediately started seeing some interesting things. I love seeing things by date! I see more relationships and patterns. All the 1860's files look pretty similar, just like 1980's pictures will have a similar look to them. By seeing them in order, I could for example, point out to my grandpa, "this picture was taken when you were 15, do you remember it?" And yes, he did remember, it had just been awhile since he'd seen those people. It wasn't one of his personal pictures, but he remembered it because he could associate it with his age then.

I currently have only 5 genealogy folders. (I used to have about 200 folders.) My current folders:
1) My mother's files
2) My father's files
3) My father in law's files (I'm now caretaker of those records)
4) General gen files, info that can apply to all the files, like info about record collections, notes I took at meetings etc.
5) Me & my husband - scans of: certificates, pictures, cards etc for the family we started, more current stuff

I have one other folder on my desktop, labeled "Gen scans". That's my not completely processed working file. Until I can get it ready to be archived into my "Gen files" folder into 1 of the 5 folders sub-folders. "Gen scans" where I put stuff when I borrow a collection for a week to scan. Where I still need to relabel pictures, and lastly, tombstone pictures. As I load new files into "Gen files", from that working folder of "Gen scans", I back the files up on cloud, and an external hard drive.

I finally figured out what I wanted to do with my tombstone pictures dilemma. I had each cemetery in a folder, with county and date labeled. Pictures in the order I took them. I walked in rows and was careful to note family groups. So the order I took pictures was important because it showed family relationships. These are very small rural Virginia cemeteries on old farms, or tiny churches. But I also wanted to have these files be searcheable by surname and the date. In this case, not date taken, but the death date on the tombstone, (which would not hold the order of pictures taken). My recent solution to my challenge, to do both things I wanted (date and order taken): create a slide show in the order pictures were taken. In that slide show, I have started to write the place, and date pictures were taken, which the folder name had the job of doing previously. Then, after the slide show is complete, I label the cemetery pictures just like all the other files, by the date on the record and a surname, or the whole name. If say the file is muster roll, I'd list it as "1863-07-David Dunn-muster roll-death". The year, then month, then day, holds all the records in chronological order. I have several thousand files but If I type in "David Dunn", only a couple files show up, all relevant. Bonus, the search result is only a few seconds! If I only have a year, I type just the year. If my grandma says "I know that picture was between 1940 and 1946, but that's the best I can do for a date" then I label the picture "1940s-Stowe AZ" (approximate date, surname and place).

Example of my filing system
I will start posting the cemetery files here in blog posts, then if you look on the "pages" part, far right, you'll see the "cemetery slide shows" page.

PS. My family pictures are stored the same way. I have just one folder, in "my pictures" labeled "pictures archives." They are backed up on external hard drive and cloud. As my camera and computer by default add in new folders, I routinely go through them, re-label and then archive. Then delete those new folders. Just one folder with several thousand pictures (I have the archive of all the family wedding pictures etc) and its all easily searchable.

27 October 2014

Indiana records digitizing, soon available

I saw this post on "Dear Myrtle" this week. (Oct 23rd)

 http://www.indystar.com/story/news/2014/10/23/indiana-partners-ancestrycom-digitize-records/17778547/

Here's the first paragraph on that page:  "The Indiana Commission on Public Records has approved a contract with Ancestry.com to digitize more than 13 million birth certificates, death certificates, and marriage records, Gov. Mike Pence announced Thursday."

A large number of people started moving from Chicago (About WWII time period) to Indiana, to places like Gary, and LaPorte Indiana. The family of Jozef Sanetra and Rozalia Mrozek moved from Chicago to LaPorte, Indiana. Kazimierz Bazarnik and his wife Matilda Malinowski lived in Chicago, married in Gary, got their citizenship in Chicago then later moved to Gary, Indiana, I believe spending the rest of their lives there. Kazimeirz was the nephew of Alfreda Mazurkiewicz who was the second marriage of Adam Sanetra. Alfreda, Kazimierz and his mother Anna immigrated together. .

This is great news for those looking to do more research about their ancestors!

02 October 2014

Inquiries to the Red Cross, after WWII

I discovered an amazing collection of records at the Holocaust museum. Joseph Sanetra wrote to the Red Cross to find our family, and they found us in about 1961. Thousands of people wrote letters like his stating when they last saw their family member, info that could help identify a relative (like a birth date) and sometimes sent in a picture.

I was told that just after the war, the Red Cross gave the letter inquiry info to the Army, and the US Army and British Army did the searching. Stalin made mail inquiries, (such as this) stop in areas he controlled, which affected mail inquiries in other areas as well. Then after his death in 1953, mail inquiries searching for family started getting easier.

I was told the inquiries late 1950's and in 1960's, those records would be held by the Polish Red Cross. (Since the inquiries I'm looking for are Polish). The searches just after the war, investigated by British and US Army are in a database now. And the Holocaust Museum has access to this database. They looked up a few names for me during my visit, and I took home a copy of one case.

14 August 2014

The Holocaust museum is much more than exhibits

Several years now, I've questioned whether a few relatives of mine were Jewish or Catholic. I have a picture of two of them. When I show their name, or picture, or say where they lived,  whether I'm talking to currently practicing Jews or Catholics, (senior citizen age), they tell me, "oh most definitely Jewish!". But when I ask, "how do you know? Can you explain it to me?" I'm told, with a shrug of the shoulders,"You just know these things".

I talked with a Catholic priest who worked in old Catholic archives. He told me it's true that in the 1920's to 1940's the time period I was looking at, a lot of Jewish women did marry Catholic men. And when they moved to this country it was a new start, you didn't question what the husband said. So there are Jewish women buried in Catholic cemeteries in Chicago. The priest recommended I try visiting the Holocaust museum because they could help with people like mine who I believe hid behind Catholic marriages. It's more than just information about the holocaust in the museum. I spoke with another person recently who said something similar about help for my questions. The people I'm looking for are not showing up in Catholic records when the rest of the family does, and I really don't know about Jewish records, although so far I have not had luck with the Jewish genealogy online site. The museum can help me learn where to start.

This week, I called the holocaust museum. I told the guy that I didn't even know if my family was Jewish or not, but I was told by a few people they were. Could someone help me with that? To know if they are Jewish? I also told him part of my family was there during the invasion, could they help with things like that? He assured me they could help with all these things. I thought the museum/research part was just for if you already knew you were Jewish or to understand what happened to the Jews. And then of course the purpose of learning history, so it doesn't repeat. But now I realize the museum can even help people like me trying to figure out if their family was Jewish, and just overall understanding things better. The research part is open Mon-Fri. I have so many questions to ask, I can hardly wait for my visit!!
Here is a link to the website to learn more about it: http://www.ushmm.org/