Part I: How the PGSA Can Help You
The Polish Genealogical Society of America (PGSA) welcomes your recent request for information about your family. The PGSA does not have family records, and our host, the Polish Museum of America Library, does not keep genealogy records. Rather, we are an educational organization, helping people learn how to research their family's history. Although we cannot do genealogical research for you, we are happy to help guide you in this complex and exciting process.
Although there are published histories of a few families, and many people share family information, most genealogical research consists of searching a variety of sources to assemble information about your family. Many of us have been involved for years; the more we find, the more we want to know.
Here are some things we at PGSA can do for you:
- We provide general guidance on doing genealogy; please see the section following on Getting Started .
- We have volunteers who will try to respond to specific questions, such as verifying the spelling of a surname or town, or directing your search for naturalization records. Contact us at PGSAmerica@pgsa.org
- We provide an active, ever-growing website; please take time to explore www.pgsa.org ; it is a rich source of information and guidance. Skim the Directory to get an idea of what we offer; do a Google Search for very specific topics.
- We have several databases on the website that you can search; see our databases at www.pgsa.org/database.php. Read the instructions to see if we can provide copies of documents of interest, and what the service fee is.
- We encourage you to join PGSA; see www.pgsa.org/Membership/membership.php for information. Among the membership benefits are a subscription to our quarterly magazine and discounts on our services.
- PGSA publishes and sells books and CDs on Polish genealogy; see a description of our journal, Rodziny, at www.pgsa.org/Publications/publications.php. Members get discounted prices.
- On Wednesdays from 10 to 1 PGSA volunteers are available at the Polish Museum of America library (984 Milwaukee, Chicago) to help you with search procedures and tips.
- If you are in the Chicago area, you can attend PGSA's program meetings.
- We have an annual conference in the Chicago area, near O'Hare Airport.
- We have volunteer activities that can help you sharpen your genealogy skills while you support the organization and your peers. Not all activities require you to be in the Chicago area. Write PGSAmerica@pgsa.org .
Welcome to the wonderful world of genealogy!
Part II : Getting Started WITH GENEALOGY
We hope these suggestions will help you begin your research.
- Start with the present and work backward. Begin with your own memories; query family members. Collect family records, pictures, and memories.
- Begin learning how to do genealogy. Like driving a car or taking up chess, you need to know something about the process to achieve the best results.
- Any public library is likely to have a useful genealogy collection, which will help you learn more about family research. In most public libraries, look in the non-fiction section in the 929s. For Polish genealogy, we recommend Polish Roots , by Rosemary Chorzempa; supplement it with the more recent Finding Your Polish Ancestors (LaBudie-Szakall and Zalesky).
- Look for old newspapers, local history, census records, and picture files.
- Use the library's computers to access genealogy on the Internet.
- There are many lectures, courses, and seminars on how to do genealogy that will provide with a systematic approach to genealogy. Likely sources:
- Local, national, and ethnic genealogical societies. For example, the PGSA offers an annual genealogy conference.
- Community colleges and adult education institutions.
- The Family History Centers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) provide access to thousands of microfilmed records from around the world, including the U.S. and Poland. To identify local LDS Family History Centers (FHC), consult the telephone book or the LDS Website at www.familysearch.org.
- Consult available censuses (1790 through 1930).
- Many libraries and Family History Centers offer direct access to the census through Ancestry, Inc. or Heritage Quest; ask at your local libraries and FHCs.
- Census microfilms are available at the National Archives ( www.nara.gov ) and its branches. University and large public libraries may have census microfilms.
- There are many websites devoted to genealogy.
-- The PGSA Volunteers