Using Polish Archives for Prussian Research

Using Polish archives for Prussian research in person may seem daunting. But it’s a snap when you take a professional genealogist as skilled as Ewa Pękalska with you. As you can see in the video below, Polish is her native language. But she is also fluent in German and English (and several other languages she was too modest to tell us about). And she’s been to every single Polish regional archives doing research finding Jewish, Lutheran, and Catholic records, so the archivists there know and cooperate with her.

After doing as much research as I could from California a few years ago, I found Ewa and retained her to find some civil registrations. She found those and found inhabitants’ lists (like a German census). These are records about my German-speaking, Lutheran ancestors who lived in Prussia (now Poland). What Eva found in those historical records that are not available in the U.S. helped so much.

Using Polish Archives for Prussian Research

So it was the smartest and easiest decision to ask Ewa to accompany me and my husband on my latest ancestor quest to Poland. However, writing up the results of my week-long visit to Polish archives and ancestral villages with Ewa will have to wait til the end of August when I’m home again.

But in the meantime this video below gives a good idea of why asking Ewa to be my guide/researcher in Poland was the smartest and easiest genealogy decision I’ve ever made. That’s Ewa on the left and the archivist on the right. I still don’t know what was discussed, but I know more indexes and record volumes were brought out.

Also when we arrived at the Leszno (Lissa) regional archives, 12 years of death records Ewa had ordered were pulled and waiting for us. I realized I’d never seen a German-language civil registration record in person before (see top image and below). How cool is that?

using polish archives

Twelve years of death records for one of my ancestral towns awaited us.

Visiting Ancestral Villages

Ewa also managed to find the almost-derelict manor house of my great-great-great grandfather. It was built in 1830 in what was once Skryzpno, Prussia. I remember several hours of work to finally decipher that village name! That record found at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City several years ago became a reality when I visited in person.

Using Polish Archives

Looking shocked in front of a manor house owned by my family in what is now Poland. I guess they weren’t all peasants after all!

More on using Polish archives for Prussian research and visiting my ancestral Prussian villages when I return in a few weeks. But in the meantime, dziękuję bardzo, Ewa. I couldn’t have done this in a million years without you. 

About the Author:

Nancy Loe has an MA in American History and an MLS in Library Science and Archives. She has appeared on PBS’s American Experience, at Rootstech, SCGS Jamboree, and state and regional genealogy conferences. Her website was featured in Family Tree Magazine's “Social Media Mavericks: 40 to Follow.”

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