Thursday, April 05, 2007

Free Genealogy Research in Poland and Online

From the MasterPage web site: Find Friends And Family Members in Poland With Free Polish Heritage Search

Warsaw, Poland 4 April, 2007 There are now two free services that make finding Polish family members and lost friends in Poland. One is on line and the other, based in Warsaw, Poland is offline.

The offline service is a research service for people who are interested in searching their family heritage in the records from hundreds of churches and synagogues in Poland. The records are on microfilm and volunteers, acting on requests for searches, make a painstaking search of what is on microfilm.

If a search requires records on film, a volunteer goes to the church or synagogue and puts the records on microfilm.

The service is located on ul. Nowy Swiat, right in the center of Warsaw. Nowy Swiat is one of the main tourist paths for Warsaw and is very easy to find. You can see a picture of Nowy Swiat and get more information at this link for Warsaw, Poland.

The volunteers respond only to requests that they take personally from people who walk into their office. Requests for help forwarded by phone calls and email are politely ignored. They simply use this as a way of screening so that they do not waste the valuable time of their volunteers.

If you come to Warsaw, you will find them at ul. Nowy Swiat #31 in location #1. The door is on the left in the gateway to the building.

The second service is on line and is a free self help service that also depends on volunteers. This service not only allows a search for family history, it also allows one to find current phone numbers, addresses and to find lost friends.

Information is posted in a database that allows one to search for a name and to make contact with the person who made the entry. It is a spam free system because a private email system is used.

Each of the services fits a given need for those people looking for information.

You can see the latest entries for people looking for friends and family at Find Friends And Family Members

I tried searching the online database and here's what I found. First I tried each of my ancestor's villages but none appeared in the database (not even villages that are now small cities). So then I tried a search for "Lodz" which is Poland's second largest city (but not for long) and I got 10 results. This strikes me as unusually small for a database that the web site says has been around since 1996.

Next I tried searches for a half dozen of my family surnames and the results there were no more bountiful. Even a search for Adamski, which is a fairly common surname in Poland, only came up with 1 result.

So what does this mean? Well, it could mean that this database has just been a well kept secret all these years. I've been doing online Polish genealogy research since about 1997 and I've never heard of it before. That's one possibility for why I didn't see many results. Another possibility is that the success rate is high (the web site suggests this is the case) and when family is found the postings are removed from the database.

I guess the bottom line is, it doesn't really matter. What have you got to lose? If you're looking for family in Poland you might as well consider posting your request here and see what happens. Maybe you'll be contacted with information about your family. Sometimes help can come from the most unlikely places.

Do keep in mind though that it's a waste of time to request information on the Adamski's from Poland. Even giving the first names for your family members isn't going to get you any valuable information. You need to provide a city/town/village or at least the closest big city to the area where you suspect your family was from. I shake my head every time I see vague and broad requests for information on message boards. Wishful thinking, that's all those messages are.

As to the family history research office on Nowy Swiat Street in Warsaw, I can't help you there. I've never been to Poland. If you've had experience with the folks in that office or you know someone who has, I'd like to hear from you.