A Guide to Chicago and Midwestern Polish-American Genealogy

Second Edition


Author: Kruski, Jason
Publication Date: 2018
Pages: viii 134 pp.


This is the second edition of this comprehensive guide to Polish genealogy. 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 Polish 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 revised chapter on Polish databases, for example, explains a wide variety of databases from Poland that have recently become available to Polish-American genealogists including Szukaj Archiwach, the website of the Polish State Archive system; Genealogia w Archiwach, the website of the State Archive system of Torun; and Geneteka, the website of genealogist volunteers who transcribe parish records. All of these databases and more can assist in figuring out where exactly in Poland one’s ancestry lies.

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 Wisconsin Polish newspaper records. 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 up-to-date, all-inclusive manual is the very thing Polish-American researchers must have to stay abreast of the current state of research in their field.

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