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- Death Notice Translation Aid: Obituary Translation Guide
- Other PGSA Research Services
This online index is a compilation of death notices appearing for the years 1890-1929 in the Dziennik Chicagoski, Chicago’s Polish daily newspaper. It holds 105,337 entries. An additional database on the PGSA site covers the years 1930-1971, the year it ceased publication.
The Polish Genealogical Society originally published indexes for the years 1890-1929 as a series of four books. These continue to be available for sale by PGSA (go to the PGSA Store) and are found at many libraries in the United States. The online index will not include the names of all relatives mentioned in each death notice, as was done in the printed version of the death notice index.
Dziennik Chicagoski was a Polish language, Roman-Catholic newspaper. One should not expect to find death notices for persons of other ethnic groups or religions.
During these years the newspaper was in its infancy. Death notices were neither numerous nor as detailed as they would become later.
The circulation of the newspaper had more than doubled as the Polish population in Chicago rapidly grew and more and more Poles chose to have death notices printed in it.
Zmarli (also called Umarli): this was a list of Poles who had died recently. It was an “official list”, presumably from whatever agency kept vital statistics for Chicago at that time. Zmarli merely listed the name, date of death, age and address of the deceased. If a death notice entry was a Zmarli, this fact is noted in the comments column of the online index. A lack of information is noted with “–” in the appropriate index column.
If any relatives with different surnames are mentioned in a death notice, they are listed as cross-references in the comments column. The same is true if any maiden-names (nee) or aliases (aka) are mentioned.
A standard feature of the newspaper throughout this decade is the Notatki Reportera (Reporter’s Notes). Sometimes these “Notes” mention the deaths of people who never appeared in a death notice. Other times they give additional details about the circumstances surrounding the death of the person. These entries are noted as Notatki Reportera in the comments column of the online index.
If a death notice entry was a Zmarli, this fact is noted in the comments column of the online index.
Users of the printed index volumes will notice a difference in the online format from what appeared in print. In order to maintain consistency across the multiple volumes comprising the death notice index, cross-references have been standardized as “see Surname, Given” in the comments column.
One must be aware that the newspaper charged are fee to place an obituary. Not everyone had the money. Separate lists of “zmarli” appeared without details, presumably at no charge, but this practice may have been dropped in later years as they became more numerous. Furthermore, many believed that placing an obituary was unnecessary because all friends, relatives and parishioners would know of the death anyway. Some of the money that would have been spent on a local obit often might have been thought better spent on postage to inform the relations who remained in Poland.
Not finding death records can also apply at cemeteries where “pauper” funeral records may have been removed after 25 years. This seems to have been the practice at St. Adalbert Cemetery where “term” graves were re-used after 25 years. The reuse of graves remains a regular practice to this day in most European countries.
You may find The Study of Obituaries as a Source for Polish Genealogical Research, by Thomas E. Golembiewski, published in 1984 by the Polish Genealogical Society of America to be of value. It is available from the PGSA Store, which can be accessed on this site.