Galicia is the given name to that partition of Poland which was occupied by the Austro-Hungarian Empire between 1772-1918. Consequently, as a foreign provincial name, imposed upon the Polish subjects of many different areas, Galicia is no longer recognized on the administrative maps of the Polish Republic as a county, province nor region. However, since the major migration to America occurred during the period of Germanic occupation, family records may often mislead the novice researcher by listing an ancestor’s place of origin as “Austria” or the elusive “Galicia”. Galicia, in particular, is recognized and referred to extensively in the Immigration Passenger Lists as Austrian Poland.
The full name of the province was “Galizien und Lodomerien” in German, or “Galicia et Lodomeria” in the Latinized form. The name is derived from two ancient duchies, Halychyna and Volhynia, which served as buffer states between the southeastern Polish frontier and the Kievan State, until their absorption by Poland in the 14th century.
The province stretched like a crescent moon from Krakow in the west, to the Romanian border in the southeast, following the northern slopes of the Carpathian Mountains. It had a population of over 7 million people in 1900, consisting mainly of Catholic Poles in the western third; Orthodox Ruthenians in the eastern third; and a mixture in the middle; and large German and Jewish communities scattered throughout. After World War I and the Russo Polish War 1920-21, the province returned to Polish administration. However, after World War II, the Soviet Union forced the annexation into the Ukraine of all but the overwhelmingly Polish areas. Many Poles were expelled, and the traditional, the mainly Polish, capital of Lwow (Lemberg) was brutally Russianized.
At the present time, there are available through Mormon branch libraries, microfilm copies of so-called Polish Civil records for Galicia. In reality, these transcripts of parish records collected in regional archives were for the purposes of military conscription. They usually commence around 1784 and continue into the 1850’s, although many of the collections are incomplete, and in other cases, no longer extant for many villages.
However, because of the previously discussed political situation the records for Galicia are grouped in two different areas. Those for the areas in the west, still within the borders of the Polish Republic, are listed under the pre-1965 provinces (Wojewodstwa) of Krakow and Rzeszow, and thereunder within the appropriate county (Powiat). Those records for areas beyond the Soviet Border, are grouped under Ukrainian Records, and thereunder within the general district.
Nevertheless, the point exemplified by the introduction to this article is that genealogical research cannot be divorced from a geographical and historical study of the area under investigation. Not only will a knowledge of the local history provide enriched backgrounds and outline the factors impacting our ancestors’ lives and fortunes, but such knowledge is a necessity in order to understand the research material relating to our genealogical investigations. To that end, the following is a general outline of the history of Galicia, which in its own way is uniquely different from the other regions of Poland. Each topic is itself worthy of an in-depth study to shed light on its effect upon our ancestral heritage.
|Pre History||Spread of Lusation Culture|
500 A D
|Development of the Wiskabue Tribe/Lugian Union|
|500- 700||Domination by Croats|
|700- 880||Expansion of the Wislanian Territorial State|
|880- 910||Overlordship by Moravia|
|966||Poland founded and converted to Christianity by Mieszko I|
|990||The Wislanie annexed to the new Polish State|
|1000-1241||Regionalism, as the Kingdom of Little Poland, and Palatinate of Sandomir. The Polish capital moved to Krakow.|
|1241-1288||Three Mongolian invasions by the armies of the Ghengis Khan and his successors|
|1288- 1330||Galicia as the Polish frontier and main area for eastward expansion|
|1330- 1370||The reign of King Casimir the Great. The annexation of Halychyna and Volhynia. Border rivalry with Lithuania.|
|1330- 1570||Jagiellonian Poland. Establishment of Galician towns and the spread of Magdeburgian town law.|
|1502- 1510||Invasion by the Turks from the East|
|1500- 1700||The imposition of serfdom|
|1600- 1650||Tartar incursions|
|1650- 1660||The Swedish Deluge|
|1700- 1702||The Northern War|
|1700- 1772||The dissolution of the State|
|1768- 1772||Confederation of Bar|
|1772||Occupation by the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the First Partition|
|1781- 1849||The struggle against serfdom|
|1786||The land Katester|
|1793- 1795||The Kosciuszko War for Independence|
|1805- 1812||Impact of Napoleonic hegemony|
|1831||Asiatic Cholera epidemic|
|1846||The Galician Peasant Uprising|
|1847||Typhus and Cholera outbreaks|
|1848- 1849||The emancipation of the Galician peasants|
|1853- 1855||The great famine. The "Great Cholera", 1854, "Little Cholera", 1873|
|1850- 1900||The struggle for democracy and overpopulation effects|
|1880- 1914||The breaking up of the estates|
|1905||Year of Strikes|
|1914- 1921||World War I. The passing of the Eastern Front through Galicia several times. The collapse of Austria. The Polish - Russian War.|