In Part 1 of my interview with Zenon Znamirowski, the founder of PolishOrigins™, we learned about the company’s mission, the online forum, and the Forefathers Traces Tours. In Part 2, I asked Zenon about the site’s databases as well as what resources he uses to find living relatives.
What are some of the techniques you use to find living relatives of clients whose ancestors emigrated from Poland to America a hundred years ago?
First and foremost I encourage everyone to add the surnames of relatives they are looking for and places where their ancestors come from to our PolishOrigins Surnames & Places Databases (click here for surnames and here for places). Only a few days ago I myself experienced that it works! A gentleman from New Jersey, USA, contacted me the with information that in his family there were people with the same surname as one of my grandmother’s, and they came from from the same tiny village! We are working now on proving our relationship.
We have plans to enable Polish speaking people to take advantage of the Surnames & Places Databases. I think the Database will gain additional, significant value with their participation.
When a client wants us to try to find living relatives we follow a three-step procedure.
After we receive information about known relatives in Poland and their last known place of residence, we first check all possible sources available on line and in our databases. If we find any matches, we make phone calls and try to find relationships.
The second step is a personal visit to the area of last known residence of the relatives. From our experience it is a very effective way of finding people, especially in the country. People are very helpful and willing to talk to us. Usually everyone knows each other and if only there is in the town or neighboring villages someone who may be related to a client, the chances of finding him are really high.
If the personal visit doesn’t bring results, maybe because the family moved away from the town, we try other ways. We contact local historical societies in search of any mention in local records (not necessarily vital records but sources such as newspapers), try other sources like factory documentation, school records etc., or we contact people through popular social networking websites.
Tell us more about the Surnames and Places databases.
The goal of our Surnames and Places (S&P) Databases is to make it possible for everyone to search for people who are interested in the same surnames or places and to enable the exchange of information and findings. I mentioned about the S&P Databases in the context of sharing research information and relatives search. Now I would like to add the most important features and benefits for users:
- Privacy. We never reveal email addresses of our members to any other third party, including other members. All communication between people is done through the Private Messages system on the Forum. All you need as a registered member to contact other member is his or her ‘username’.
- Indexed content. Our Datbases have such a structure, which allows search engines to index the content. Most of known to us genealogy databases are “invisible” to search engines, they don’t exist for websites like Google.com or bing.com. This means that if you add your surnames and places to our Databases, the chances are high that someone who is looking for the same combination of surname and place through, for example Google.com will find you. In the case of a rare surnames an entry in our Database can be found by someone who enters only the surname into a search engine (try, for example, a search for ‘Anazewski’).
- Simplicity. The way of adding information into Database is very simple and user-friendly. Click here to see the registration form.
- Personal pages. Aside from adding your surnames and places you can share with others more details about your achievements and search goals in the ‘More info’ box. For example, click here for my personal page in S&P Databases.
Currently, after a year of existence, more than 1,850 surnames and 1,100 places have been added by researchers.
The newest feature to PolishOrigins™ is “Polish Genealogy Databases”, which is advertised as “In one place. In one click. In English!” Tell us more about this exciting search feature.
This is our youngest “child” in its infancy. We hope to raise it to become a strong and useful “member” of the PolishOrigins.com tools family.
The goal of the Polish Genealogy Databases or PGD tool is to allow all visitors to access the increasingly rich Polish genealogy resources that are available online and to understand the content.
By entering keywords (like surnames, places, dates) in the search box you can gain access to the content of English and Polish language genealogy sources and instantly get the results automatically translated into English all with one click!
I would emphasize the three most important features of the PGD tool:
- Automatic translation of Polish language sources into understandable English.
- Selection of the best searchable Polish genealogy websites. Very often, because of the language barrier, people are even not aware of the existence of great databases and websites.
- Continual updating of the resources that are accessed. We will be gradually developing the tool by adding addresses for the most relevant and useful new websites that appear online every month.
Just try it for yourself: http://polishorigins.com/databases/ .
Thanks for sharing your insights with What’s Past is Prologue readers, Zenon!
Donna, if you would allow me, I want to express my deep gratitude to my wife Magda, Michał our web developer and “geek”, and to Shellie, James and of course, Nancy. Without their support, ideas and active participation throughout of this adventure nothing would have been possible. I would like to also thank you, Donna, for the opportunity to discuss and to share with “What’s Past is Prologue” readers our PolishOrigins.com projects, services and plans.