A Sweeter “Sweet Sixteen”

In August, Randy Seaver created an informative Saturday Night Genealogical Fun (SNGF) challenge to name our sixteen great-great grandparents, provide their pertinent dates and locations, and calculate one’s ethnic background.  My response to his challenge was a post called Sweet Sixteen: My Great-Great Grandparents. But I couldn’t name all sixteen.  In my post, I lamented the fact that certain branches on my family tree were little more than twigs.  In particular, my patrilineal line had three unknowns and a maybe.

Today, I know their names.

Thanks to my Piontkowski (Piątkowski) great-grandparents’ marriage record, I can add names to the first four slots of my Sweet Sixteen list, making it much, much sweeter.  They are:

  1. Stanisław Piątkowski (ahnentafel#16)
  2. Apolonia Konopka (ahnentafel#17)
  3. Jan Kiziewieter (possibly misspelled on the record; later known as Kizoweter) (ahnentafel#18)
  4. Marianna Ostał (ahnentafel#19)

More to come on the record itself and its details once I get a copy.  Many thanks to Zenon Znamirowski of Polish Origins for finding this for me!  (You’ll also be hearing more about Polish Origins™ soon when I have a special interview with Zenon – stay tuned!)



Slesin, PolandSurname – SLESINSKI or ŚLESIŃSKI

Meaning/Origin – The name SLESINSKI or ŚLESIŃSKI (hear it pronounced in Polish) is derived from the place name Ślesin, a town in central Poland near Konin founded in 1231.  The suffix -ski is usually added to a person or place name to indicate a relationship such as “son of” or “from”.  (Source: Polish Surnames: Origins and Meanings, Second Edition by William F. Hoffman)

Countries of Origin – The surnames of SLESINSKI and ŚLESIŃSKI are Polish. According to the World Names Profiler, Poland has the highest frequency per million residents with this name at 11.73 per million.  The United States comes in a distant second at 1.48.   The results are the same for either spelling.

Spelling Variations – The main Polish spelling of this name is ŚLESIŃSKI; however, because of the unique characters it is often written as SLESINSKI.  Other variations include ŚLESZYŃSKI and ŚZLESZYŃSKI.  (Source: Polish Surnames: Origins and Meanings, Second Edition by William F. Hoffman)

Surname Maps – The following maps illustrate the frequency of the ŚLESIŃSKI and SLESINSKI surnames in Poland.  According to http://www.dynastree.com/maps/detail/slesinski.html, there are about 363 people with the surname Slesinski in the United States, with the heaviest concentration in New York state.  The Polish surname map shows only 400 people with the surname ŚLESIŃSKI spread out over 78 different counties and cities.  The greatest concentration are in Grodzisk Mazowiecki with 40 residents.

Distribution of the Ślesiński surname in Poland.

Distribution of the Ślesiński surname in Poland.

SOURCE: Mojkrewni.pl “Mapa nazwisk” database, http://www.moikrewni.pl/mapa/kompletny/%25C5%259Blesi%25C5%2584ski.html, accessed October 23, 2009.

For a very different map, I entered the American spelling without the Polish letters  – SLESINSKI.  Only two people in Poland use that spelling!

Distribution of the Slesinski surname in Poland.

Distribution of the Slesinski surname in Poland.

SOURCE: Mojkrewni.pl “Mapa nazwisk” database, http://www.moikrewni.pl/mapa/kompletny/slesinski.html, accessed October 23, 2009.

Famous Individuals with the Surname – I could not find any famous folks, but there is the Kanał Ślesiński, a water channel in Poland that connects the Warta River with Lake Golplana.

My Family – This is the surname of my great-grandmother (my mother’s mother’s mother).  My Ślesiński family comes from Poland. My earliest ancestor so far with this name is Wojciech Ślesiński, born around 1750 likely in Ślesin, Poland.  My line of descent is as follows: Wojciech > Maciej (b.1786, Ślesin) > Józef (b. 1821, Ślesin) > Wincenty (b. 1851, Wilczyn) > daughter Wacława (b. 29 Aug 1880, Wilczyn).

Wincenty did have at least one son to carry on the surname, Feliks, who was born on 24 Dec 1885.  I am not sure if Feliks survived to adulthood.  Wacława Ślesińska married Józef Zawodny in 1902 and immigrated to the U.S. (Philadelphia, PA) the same year.  Wacława’s four sisters also immigrated to the U.S. after their father’s death on 01 Jan 1919 and settled in McKeesport, PA.

My Research Challenges – Wincenty Ślesiński died in Dobrosołowo, near Wilczyn, two days after his wife died.  His wife, Stanisława Drogowska, was about 58 years old.  Wincenty was about 68 years old.  If Poland had obituaries during this time period in a town as small as Dobrosołowo, I would like to learn more about the circumstances of their deaths.  At this time, World War I was raging and their town, in the Russian Empire until Poland returned to Europe’s map, was extremely close to the German border.

It is interesting that my earliest ancestors with this name were recorded as having been from the town of Ślesin.  There are still microfilmed records available to allow me to pursue research on this line when I have the time.

Other Ślesiński Families – One site I would like to highlight is not about genealogical research, but it is about family.  Lori Ann Slesinski was 24 years old when she went missing in June, 2006, from Auburn, Alabama.  Please take a look at this site and contact the authorities listed if you have any information.

Surname Message Boards – None – please leave a comment if you find any.

Miscellaneous – The American Soundex code for Slesinski is S425 and the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex Code is 484645.  There are 159 individuals in the U.S. Social Security Death Index with the surname Pater (as far as I know, none are related to me – the Slesinski sisters all married and no longer used their maiden names).

Links to other posts about my Slesinski family can be found here.

This post is #3 of an ongoing series about surnames.  To see all posts in the series, click here.

Remembering the Dog Days of Summer

The theme to this month’s Festival of Postcards is “quadrupeds”.  Once again I have managed to find a unique example that meets the theme and also has a connection to my family history.  Here’s a great card that shows a couple of quadrupeds all decked out to celebrate the dog days of summer!

Dogs with ShadesDogs2The text of the postcard reads:

Dear Donna, As you can see from the picture, we’re not the only brother-sister team that can party Hawaiian-style!  Even if the other sisters are cool – they’re not as nice (and kind & intelligent & loving) as you!  Thanks for the CCD material – it really came in handy.  You’re in my thoughts and prayers.  I love you, Drew

As if you could not figure it out, the postcard is from my brother to me.  But the postmark didn’t quite make the card itself, and I couldn’t remember exactly when he sent it to me.  To determine the date of the card, I used the investigative techniques I’ve learned from my genealogical work as well as skills I’ve learned from others about how to date photographs and postcards.  I focused on three distinct areas to estimate the “age” of the card – clues provided by the sender/recipient, the writing or message content, the card itself, and the postage.

First, the sender and recipient – my brother and me.  There were two different times in our lives that my brother sent me letters and postcards because he was living away from home.  The first was a five-year period in the early 1980’s when he was in the United States Marine Corps.  The second was about a five-year period beginning in the late 1980’s when he was serving in a very different type of “corps” – two different seminaries.

Next, I looked at the subject of the text.  At first glance, I assumed the card was sent while he was in the seminary for two reasons – he’s rather, uh, nice and complimentary.  I’m not saying he was rude when he was a Marine, but I remember the seminarian as a kindler, gentler brother!  Also, he mentions me sending CCD material.  CCD stands for “Confraternity of Christian Doctrine” which is a Catholic religious education program for students attending public schools.  On the one hand, I figured my seminarian brother would have more of a need for CCD material than the Marine brother.  But, I was teaching CCD classes during the time my brother was in the Marines.

The next clue came from the postcard itself with a copyright of 1984.  In 1984, my brother was in the USMC and I was teaching CCD classes, so this clearly tipped the scale in favor of that time period.

Finally, the card has a 20-cent stamp.  I looked at The History of Postage Rates in the United States.  This site shows a 20-cent postcard rate beginning in 1995.  By then, my brother was married and not sending me mail, so this was not possible.  I know that when I send a postcard, I sometimes use a “regular” stamp if I don’t have time to go to the post office for a postcard stamp.  Looking at the normal postage rates, the 20-cent stamp was in use from November 1, 1981 to February 17, 1985.

Conclusion: The postcard has a copyright of 1984, the stamp was in issue from then until 1985 (the denomination, anyway – I could have done further research on the design of the stamp itself), I was teaching CCD during that same time period and my brother was in the USMC during that same period, therefore, the postcard was likely sent during 1984.

Even though this was a “recent” postcard and sent directly to me, I gave this example of trying to determine its date not only because I myself didn’t remember, but because it is a good example of how to proceed with following a postcard’s clues to estimate the time period in which it was sent.

More importantly, once again in finding an entry to meet the “challenge” of the Festival, I am reminded of what postcards are all about…keeping in touch with family and friends.  I was in high school when my brother was in the Marines, and it was always a special treat to get a postcard or a letter from him.  I didn’t save all of them, but I did save a few that were special.  I am sure this one made my “save” pile not only because of his loving message, but because of the humor of the card.  In fact, I think he had a Hawaiian shirt just like that one they have on!  I was about to enter my Hawaiian shirt & shades stage (I haven’t left it yet, by the way), so it was particularly fun to receive this one.

[Submitted for the 5th Festival of Postcards: Quadrupeds]


SNGF: My Family’s Increase

This week’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun (SNGF) by Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings asks

1) Pick one of your four great-grandparents – if possible, the one with the most descendants.

2) Create a descendants list for those great-grandparents either by hand or in your software program.

3) Tell us how many descendants, living or dead, are in each generation from those great-grandparents.

4) How many are still living? Of those, how many have you met and exchanged family information with? Are there any that you should make contact with ASAP? Please don’t use last names of living people for this – respect their privacy.

I seem to always use my Bergmeister Family as an example for SNGF, but that is the family in which I have not only had success in tracing ancestors backward, but also success in tracing cousins forward.  So for my example of my family’s increase, I will use my great-grandparents Joseph Bergmeister (1873-1927) and Marie Echerer Bergmeister (1875-1919).  Their descendants are:

  • 5 Children (all deceased) – I only remember meeting 2.
  • 14 Grandchildren (8 living / 6 deceased)  – I only met 3 of the living and 1 deceased.
  • 30 Great-grandchildren (28 living / 2 deceased) – I met 7 and “e-met” 6 more.
  • 48 Second great-grandchildren (all living, not counting some adopted and step-children) – I’ve met 9.
  • At least 2 Third great-grandchildren so far…

    As best I can determine, Joseph and Marie Bergmeister have 99 descendants so far – not bad for a couple that didn’t live long enough to see their youngest child reach adulthood.  Marie was just shy of 44 years old when she died.  Joseph died at age 54, but he was able to see his first 3 grandchildren before he died.

    Research on this branch has been satisfying because of all the second cousins I have come to know, mostly via email.  At least one descendant of each of the four other Bergmeister children are in contact with me, and we are beginning to discuss the possibility of a family reunion!  Stay tuned here for more details.  I still have work to do in getting to know some more of my cousins, but this is by far the branch of the family that is the most interested in our history.

    Surname Saturday: ECHERER

    Surname – ECHERER

    Meaning/Origin – I have not found a definitive answer on the origin of the ECHERER name, but it may be related to ECKER or EGGER.  According to the Dictionary of German Names, Second Edition by Hans Bahlow, these names are found frequently near Munich and they mean “from the dwelling place on the corner (uff der Egg)”.  The name may also be derived from the place name Eger or Egerer.

    Countries of Origin – The surname Echerer is German.  According to the World Names Profiler, the countries with the highest frequency per million residents are Austria with only 2.58 individuals per million, and Germany with .82.  It is not a very common name. The next highest countries (and their respective frequency per million) are the United States (.13) and Spain (.1).

    Spelling Variations – As noted above, the “CH” is often noted as “GG” or “CK”. In my own family, in the earlier records the name was spelled EGER, EGGER, or EGGERER and stabilized as ECHERER in the 1700s.  My grandmother’s sister thought her mother’s name was ECKERT based on the pronunciation, and she adopted that variation as her surname.

    Surname Maps – The following maps illustrate the frequency of the ECHERER surname in Austria and Germany. According to http://www.dynastree.com/maps/detail/echerer.html, there are about 50 people with the surname in the United States, with the heaviest concentration in South Carolina.

    Distribution of the ECHERER surname in Austria.

    Distribution of the ECHERER surname in Austria.

    SOURCE: Geogen Surname Mapping database, http://christoph.stoepel.net/geogen/en/Default.aspx, accessed October 11, 2009.

    In Austria, the name was found in three different counties.

    Distribution of the ECHERER surname in Germany.

    Distribution of the ECHERER surname in Germany.

    SOURCE: Geogen Surname Mapping database, http://christoph.stoepel.net/geogen/en/Default.aspx, accessed October 11, 2009.

    In Germany, there are about 56 people in seven different counties, all located in close proximity in Bavaria.  The highlighted district to the far right is Pfaffenhofen an der Ilm, the town from which my Echerer family came.  A heavier concentration of Echerer’s is just to the left in Landkreis Aichach-Friedberg.

    Famous Individuals with the SurnameMercedes Echerer (b. 16 May 1963) is an Austrian actress and politician.  Wikipedia has a list of several famous people with the EGGER surname, a variation of ECHERER.

    My Family – My Echerer family comes from Pfaffenhofen an der Ilm in Bavaria, and it is the surname of my great-grandmother, Maria Echerer Bergmeister.  Her family history goes back for generations in the town of Pfaffenhofen.  In fact, I have not yet completed the research.  The church records begin in the 1500’s, and I am certain that I can continue to trace the family to the earliest history of the town.

    My earliest ancestor so far with this name is Leonard EGERER, a shoemaker born in the 1630’s (the spelling transitions to ECHERER in the late 1700s). My line of descent is as follows (all born and died in Pfaffenhofen a.d. Ilm): Leonard (b. 1677) > Bernhard (1721-1778) >Ignaz (1763-?) >Ignaz (1803-1874) > Karl (1846-post 1882) > Maria (1875-1919).  Maria married Joseph Bergmeister in 1897 and they immigrated to the United States.  More information on their children can be found on the Bergmeister Family Page.  Maria had at least one brother who was named Karl after his father.  Karl was born on 28 June 1878.

    My Research Challenges -My Echerer line has been one of the easiest to trace back so far, and one of the few that reaches back to the 1600s.  My challenges are 1) to continue with the research until the records end, 2) discover what happened to my great-grandmother’s brother, Karl (do his descendants still live in Pfaffenhofen?), and 3) attempt to “connect” the various Echerer families to one common ancestor (see Other Echerer Families below).

    The surname Echerer as written in German "Sütterlin" script.

    The surname Echerer as written in German "Sütterlin" script.

    To see your surname in Sütterlin script, go to Write Your Name in Suetterlin. This script was mostly used in the 20th Century, but it shows the difficulty of researching in foreign records.

    Other Echerer Families – As you can see from the maps, the name is very uncommon.  Therefore, we all must be related, right?  One possible “cousin” (at least that’s what we call each other) is the Echerer family currently located in South Carolina.  Scott Echerer has done an excellent job of documenting the various Echerer branches in the United States on his page USA Echerer Family Tree.  Scott’s ancestors immigrated to the U.S. in 1930 from Neukirchen, a town in Bavaria close to Pfaffenhofen. I have not yet taken the time to research the Neukirchen Echerer’s to see if there is any connection to the Pfaffenhofen family back in time.  Scott still has cousins in Bavaria from this line.  Scott also documents another U.S. Echerer family descended from Anton Echerer from Bohemia.

    In addition, there is the Echerer Family website run by Michael Echerer from Munich.

    Surname Message Boards – None, but there is an Egerer board.

    Miscellaneous – The American Soundex code for Echerer is E266.  There are 6 individuals in the U.S. Social Security Death Index with the surname Echerer (none are related to me).

    Links to all posts about my Echerer family can be found here.

    This post is #2 of an ongoing series about surnames. To see all posts in the series, click here.

    High on Societies…Genealogical Societies!

    PGSA Logo

    This edition of the Carnival of Genealogy asks us to write about our favorite genealogical societies.  It is provident that the theme falls in the middle of Polish-American Heritage Month, because the only genealogical society that I am currently a member of is the Polish Genealogical Society of America, or PGSA.  I’ve been a member for nearly 20 years!  When I first got involved in genealogy, I realized that membership in a genealogical society could be useful to help me learn skills and information pertinent to my new hobby.  I wanted to join a local society that had meetings, lectures, a library, and experienced genealogists willing to help newcomers, but even though there were some local societies near me, none of them seemed to fit my genealogical path.

    All of my great-grandparents immigrated to Philadelphia, PA in the first decade of the Twentieth Century, but my local genealogical societies had a greater focus on past history rather than the relatively “recent” history of the 2oth century.  For example, the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania has a wonderful collection of records and they also offer regular lectures and tours.  But I didn’t find much of a need for Civil War records or my city’s colonial history because my ancestors were still in Poland during those times.  So I sought ought a different sort of genealogical society – one that could help me with my unique genealogical needs – and found the Polish Genealogical Society of America.

    PGSA is based in Chicago, IL and focuses on Polish and Polish-American research.  I have never been to a meeting.  I have never been to their library.  I have never been to one of their offered lectures.  But I continue to renew my membership dues.  I would love to be able to attend such things in person, but the society offers some benefits even for members that never make it to their headquarters.  I became a member to learn, and I’ve been able to do that through their publications and their library offerings.

    [Note: Full disclosure since you may see my name on some PGSA publications…from February through September of 2009 I held the position of Publications Chair for PGSA.  In that position, I was responsible for the publication of the monthly Notebook newsletter among other things.  I resigned from the Board and this position because I felt that I could not devote the amount of time to the job that it requires and deserves.  While I am no longer associated with the PGSA’s  Board of Directors or publications in any way, I am still a member and I am writing more about my member experiences in this article.]

    When I first joined PGSA, they offered two written publications – a newsletter and a longer-format journal.  Today, the only written publication is the quarterly Rodziny, edited by author William “Fred” Hoffman.  I am usually guaranteed at least one useful tidbit of information from this journal – if not more!   Fred’s wit and expertise with record translation and names makes the journal alone worth the society dues.  PGSA also issues a monthly email newsletter called the PGSA Notebook.  These publications have helped point me towards records or information of which I was previously unaware.

    PGSA’s unique collection of records has also assisted me in my research.  As I said, I have never been to their library (which is the library of the Polish Museum of America), but through their website and mail services I was able to find information from Haller’s Army records, Polish Roman Catholic Union of America records, and their collection of parish jubilee books.  These records and research requests are available to both members and non-members alike, but members receive discounts on the fees.

    Over the years I have wondered if it is beneficial to belong to a society that I cannot fully participate in by attending meetings and special events in person.  I’ve especially wondered this in the last two years after becoming a member of sorts in a very different genealogical society – Geneabloggers.  There are no dues, no meetings, and no “official” publications, but I have to consider it to be a genealogical society because of how much I have learned from my fellow bloggers.  In fact, the sense of community among these strangers, whose only bond is a love of genealogy and an inter-dependence on the internet, is stronger than my far-away participation in the PGSA.  But I’m not giving up on PGSA.  I continue to pay membership dues because I believe in the overall mission of PGSA, which is “to collect, disseminate and preserve information on Polish and Polish-American family history and to help its members use that information in their own research.”

    If you have Polish ancestry, consider joining either PGSA or one of the other localized Polish genealogical societies (the Polish Genealogical Society of Connecticut and the Northeast has a list of Polish genealogical societies here).  In fact, I encourage you to find a genealogical society specific to your ethnic background.  The wealth of knowledge among the members of these societies will impress you, and don’t be surprised if you learn something new from them!

    Earlier this year, I wrote an article about genealogical societies for the preview issue of Discovering Family History.  If you would like to read it, my article and the entire issue is available as a free download at http://www.discoveringfamilyhistory.com/DFH_OnlineFree.pdf.

    Written for the 82nd Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy: Favorite Genealogical Societies]

    Surname Saturday: PATER

    Surname – PATER

    Meaning/Origin – The name PATER comes from the Latin pater, meaning “father”.  In English, it is pronounced PAY-ter or PAH-ter.  Hear it pronounced by a Polish speaker here.

    Countries of Origin – The surname Pater can be found in several countries.  According to the World Names Profiler, the countries with the highest frequency per million residents are the Netherlands, with 176, and Poland with 115.  The next highest countries (and their respective frequency per million) are Luxembourg (43), France (8), Belgium (7), Canada (6), United States (6), and Germany (5).  Although Great Britain is not currently listed with a high frequency, in past centuries Pater was also considered to be a British name.

    Spelling Variations – The spelling does not vary in the Netherlands, but in Poland you will find a few variations, including Patera, Paterak, Paterała, Paterek, Paterkiewicz, and Paterski. (Source: Polish Surnames: Origins and Meanings, Second Edition by William F. Hoffman)

    Surname Maps – The following maps illustrate the frequency of the PATER surname in the Netherlands and Poland.  According to http://www.dynastree.com/maps/detail/pater.html, there are about 1,500 people with the surname in the United States, with the heaviest concentration in Pennsylvania.

    Distribution of the surname Pater in the Netherlands.

    Distribution of the surname Pater in the Netherlands.

    SOURCE: familienaam.nl database, http://www.familienaam.nl/, accessed October 10, 2009.

    Distribution of the Pater surname in Poland.

    Distribution of the Pater surname in Poland.

    SOURCE: Mojkrewni.pl “Mapa nazwisk” database, http://www.moikrewni.pl/mapa/kompletny/pater.html, accessed October 10, 2009.

    Famous Individuals with the SurnameWalter Horatio Pater (4 August 1839 – 30 July 1894) was an English writer and art critic (see some of his works here at Project Gutenberg).  Jean-Baptiste Pater (29 December 1695 – 25 July 1736) was a French painter.

    My Family – My Pater family comes from Poland.  My earliest ancestor so far with this name is Hilary Pater, born between 1800-1814 in Poland.  My line of descent is as follows: Jan (b. 1834, Kamieńskie Budy) > Jozef Pater (b. 21 Sep 1864, Ruda Guzowska, which later became Żyrardów) > Ludwik (Louis) (b. 24 Aug 1893, Żyrardów) > Henry (b. 25 Mar 1912, Philadelphia).  Jozef and his family immigrated to the U.S. (Philadelphia, PA) from 1905 to 1907.

    A female Pater (daughter of Jozef) may have settled in New Jersey or New York with her husband and family.  The family is rumored to have cousins in Chicago as well (possibly owners of a movie theater in the 1940’s).

    Based on information in the IGI, my great-grandfather’s cousins remained in Żyrardów – Jozef (son of Marcin, brother of my Jozef) died in 1942 at the age of 45, and his son Bronislaw died in 1943 at the age of 22.  I can only assume they died as a result of the war, but more research is needed about their lives and deaths.

    My Research Challenges – I need to find evidence of Hilary’s birth, marriage, and death in Polish records.  He was named on his son’s marriage record, but I have not yet located his own records.  I would like to trace the name as far back as possible to determine if the family immigrated to Poland from somewhere else.  In addition, I would like to track down the descendants of my grandfather’s (Henry’s) brothers, Walter Pater and Eugene Pater (Walter used the alias Walter Miller) and fill in some missing information about my great-grandfather’s sisters and their families.

    Other Pater Families – The Family Organisation Pater in the Netherlands is led by Bram Pater.  They have researched over 30,000 names in seven different Pater lines – including some in Poland (though not my own branch).  If you can read Dutch, check it out!

    Surname Message Boards – There is a rather inactive message board on Ancestry here.

    Miscellaneous – The American Soundex code for Pater is P360 and the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex Code is 739000.  There are 386 individuals in the U.S. Social Security Death Index with the surname Pater (four are related to me – Elizabeth, Henry, Mae, and Eugene).

    Links to other posts about my Pater family can be found here. I also have a Pater Family page with photos and more information on my particular Pater line.

    This post is #1 of an ongoing series about surnames.

    An Honor Just to be Nominated


    Family Tree Magazine (not a magazine I have written for in the past) wants to highlight the Top 40 Genealogy Blogs in their May 2010 issue.  In addition to many of the blogs I read daily written by many people who have become good friends, What’s Past is Prologue has been included among the nominees!  You can find it in the Personal/Family category.  Other categories include All-around, Local/Regional, Cemetery, Photos/Heirlooms, Heritage, News/Resources, How-to, Genealogy Companies, and Genetic Genealogy. Footnotemaven (also a nominee) has a list with links to each and every nominee in this post.  Thanks to those who nominated my blog, and thanks in advance for your votes!  The voting period is open until November 5th. 

    Don’t forget to vote for your favorites!

    Polish-American Heritage Month

    October is Polish-American Heritage Month!  The Polish American Center describes this event as “a national celebration of Polish history, culture and pride.”  Even if you don’t have any Polish ancestry, it’s a great time to learn more about Polish history and culture.  Last year What’s Past is Prologue hosted a month-long Polish History and Culture Challenge – all contributions can be found in this post.  I’m not quite as organized this year, but I want to offer some tips on celebrating your Polish heritage with the Top Ways to Celebrate Polish-American Heritage Month:

    If you have Polish Ancestry…

    • Locate an immigrant ancestor’s place of origin ~ Ancestry magazine has a great guide to help here.
    • Find a church record for one of your ancestors ~ here are some translation aids to help once you find it.
    • Find and translate the Słownik Geograficzny entry for your ancestor’s hometown ~ here’s a guide to assist.
    • Learn the origin and meaning of one of your Polish surnames ~ read my interview with author Fred Hoffman, and then run out to buy his books on Polish surnames!
    • Join a Polish genealogical society ~ such as the Polish Genealogical Society of America.

    And even if you’re not Polish…

    • Read a book by a Polish author ~  Many are available in English translations.  Are you a science fiction fan? Try Stanisław Lem.  Enjoy non-fiction?  Try Ryszard Kapuściński.  In the mood for sweeping romantic historical epics?  Definitely try Henryk Sienkiewicz.
    • Learn about an event in Polish history ~ Several important anniversaries occurred or will occur in 2009, such as the 230th anniversary of the death of General Casimir Pulaski (father of the American Cavalry) and the 70th anniversary of the invasion of Poland and the outbreak of World War II.
    • Watch a Polish movie ~ Try Three Colours (Polish: Trzy kolory), the collective title of the trilogy directed by Krzysztof Kieślowski, Agnieszka Holland’s Europa, Europa, or Katyń, directed by Andrzej Wajda.
    • Make a recipe for some Polish food ~ who wouldn’t want some pierogi?  Did you hear about the Polish nun who has become a best-selling cookbook author?
    • Learn how to polka! ~ Sheri gave us a good intro to the polka for my Polish History and Culture Challenge!

    Polish-PrideKiss Us, We’re Polish (and Proud…)!

    As always, I encourage my readers to also check out some great blogs of my fellow Polish-American genea-bloggers:
    Steve’s Genealogy Blog ~ read about Steve’s visit to Poland, or see samples of expert translation of vital records!
    Creative Gene ~ Jasia writes about “genealogy and more” including her Polish heritage, Detroit Polonia, and Polish crafts!
    Al’s Polish-American Genealogy Research ~ Al’s blog gives you exactly what’s in the title of his blog – solid genealogy research that serves as an example to us all!

    If you have a blog about Polish genealogy, history, heritage, or culture, tell us about it in the comments!

    (Polish Pride image from the Polish Heritage Gift Shop – buy your favorite Pole an expression of pride today!)