This eBook contains the first edition of this comprehensive introduction to Polish genealogy. A print version of the updated second edition is also available on this site. Since Polish-Americans (including the author) proliferate in Chicago and the U.S. Midwest, they are the focus; however, much of the advice set forth here will apply to the majority of U.S. residents of Polish Catholic origin, as well as to records in Poland themselves. (Persons of Polish Jewish/Lithuanian/Ruthenian ancestry are not covered in Mr. Kruski’s book.) Since Polish immigration to the United States began in earnest following the American Civil War, and was heaviest during the last quarter of the nineteenth and first quarter of the twentieth century, this era is the chronological focal point of the work.
Mr. Kruski’s approach is to blend traditional genealogical methods with the most contemporary tools available to the genealogist, all the while demonstrating their application for Polish-Americans. Like most how-to books, this one stresses the importance of reviewing existing family records and speaking with elderly relatives. It also devotes separate chapters to U.S. census records; birth, marriage, and death records in Chicago’s Cook County; immigration and naturalization records; military records; and cemetery and other death records. The chapter on naturalization, for example, explains that Great Chicago Fire destroyed all naturalization records prior to 1871; the records that postdate the fire have survived, though there is little information on the records from 1871-1906. After 1906 more information–such as the person’s exact birthplace, physical description, and names of children–is given, and the records from the late 1920s-1940 contain even more detail. The easiest place to discover a Chicago Pole’s death record, we learn, is in the Dziennik Chicagoski database on the Polish Genealogical Society of America’s (PGSA) website.
Chapter 7, “Chicago and Midwestern Records and Resources,” discusses documents unique to the author’s geographical area, such as Chicago voter registration records, local property records, coroners’ inquest files, Indiana Polish cemeteries, the 1894 state-conducted census of Michigan, and a Wisconsin Polish newspaper indexing project. Still other chapters explain how to determine an ancestor’s Polish village of origin, the relative unimportance of being fluent in Polish when doing genealogical research, church and vital records in Poland, and how to find living Polish relatives. Each chapter contains references to key websites and/or Internet searching techniques, and the author has added an appendix on Polish Internet genealogy. There is even a chapter on DNA and Genetic Genealogy as it impinges on Polish research.
In short, this all-inclusive manual is the very thing Polish-American researchers must have to stay abreast of the current state of research in their field.