Polish Genealogical Society of Michigan
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1.  
NewPolish genealogy is a quest to learn about our ancestors, their culture, traditions, language and history. We build our family tree beginning with ourselves, our parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins in the United States. Speak to your oldest living relatives; ask them for their memories, pictures, letters, documents and keep a log of everything that is said and done.
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NewResearch skills are developed over time. It is still important to read books, use maps, gazetteers, visit libraries, archives, courthouses, cemeteries and attend genealogy society meetings, seminars and conferences. The internet is a vast storage space to fill in all the rest of the blanks in our family tree. Free searches are always best and Family Search is one of the best places to look for records by state and country. Subscription sites such as Ancestry and My Heritage offer even more possibilities. Webinars and podcasts are also available online.
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3.  
Maps are very important to use when doing your research. Use historical and modern maps for comparison.
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4.  
NewDevelop an organization style that is best and easiest for you to maintain. Pedigree charts, group sheets, surname binders, genealogical software and cloud storage are some options for organizing your genealogy.
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5.  
NewCite your sources and verify everything by comparing documents against each other. Is it a primary or secondary source?
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It is easier to collect all information about the first immigrant ancestor when they lived in the United States before trying to research in Poland.
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NewVisit free sites like Family Search.org to look for available records. Information is added almost daily. Subscription sites like Ancestry, Fold 3 and My Heritage contain additional resources. Libraries and Family History Centers subscribe to these pay sites.
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8.  
Investigate the libraries and archives in the place where your family lived. Search for local historical societies that might be able to help you find records. Find out when the libraries and archives are open before making the trip. Not every record that you will need is online and at some point, it will become necessary to visit these repositories.
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9.  
NewPrepare to visit your local library, archive or Family History Center. Records are kept in different locations and you have to learn these places. Death indexes, city directories, county histories, newspapers, church records and cemetery indices are just a few sources of information. Copy available records in whichever format is easiest to use, whether is is print, scanned, photographed or saved to a memory stick.
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10.  
NewVisit cemeteries often. The office staff will provide maps and locations for each person. Provide them with complete names and dates to make their work easier. Check to see if your cemetery has a website with a searchable database. Always thank them for their time.
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11.  
NewAt the cemetery, be mindful of the rules and regulations. Please do not use harsh chemicals or brushes to clean stones as it will cause the stone to deteriorate. A GPS system records the exact location of the gravesites. Photograph all the stones after the graves are cleaned. There are cemetery forms available if you choose to develop a binder.
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12.  
NewObituaries and death notices provide clues about a family. Check ethnic newspapers such as the Dziennik Polski in Detroit for obituaries in addition to other newspapers. The Library of Michigan has one of the best collections of Michigan newspapers. Since newspapers are not indexed, be prepared with dates to save search time.
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13.  
Join a society specific to your area of research. Experienced persons are always willing to help others begin the journey. Meetings are a good way to network with others, learn and share. Sometimes it is actually a good idea to join more than one society for the databases and journals.
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14.  
NewMessage boards and forums are great ways to connect with others and learn. Yahoo and Roots Web have active groups related to Polish genealogy. Facebook is free and has thousands of groups to join for genealogy, DNA and other interests. PGSM has a Facebook page and you are welcome to join us in the discussions. Search for Polish Genealogical Society of Michigan and request membership. Facebook button is on the home page of our website.
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15.  
NewLearn basic genealogy terms in English, German, Latin, Polish and Russian. Dictionaries, genealogy books and online guides supply these words and terms. Handwriting styles are different as well.
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16.  
NewThere are many Polish genealogical societies, digital libraries and archives which can be used to research your family. If you have identified the parish, check its website for Mass intentions; sometimes you will find your surname. Look for Polish cemetery websites. Find-A-Grave and Billion Graves has branched out into Poland.
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17.  
It is not true that all Polish records were destroyed during or after the war. Besides the church or metrical books, there are civil records, state and diocesan archives. Letter writing guides are available to request these records. Many churches, gmina offices and archives have e-mail addresses.
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18.  
Consider hiring a Polish researcher who will translate and intervene for you in obtaining records. Be sure to obtain references before hiring any researcher.
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19.  
Always thank the parish priest or person working in the gmina or archives office for their work. On the parish level, donations are accepted to offer prayers in the name of your family members, church maintenance or charity. The gmina or archives will not perform the research until payment has been received.
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20.  
NewOnce you have the proper documents that define your ancestral village, check the catalog at Family Search.org to see if there are microfilms or if your parish has been digitized. While microfilm distribution has been discontinued, they are still available to use at your local Family History Center.
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21.  
NewOnce you identified your ancestral villages, plan to visit. Set a goal and plan in advance to meet potential relatives, walk cemeteries, visit churches and tour the countryside. There are travel agencies who will tailor your trip abroad by arranging for a tourist guide and translator. Keep a diary of your trip and share with family.
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22.  
Photograph valuable family heirlooms and inventory special pieces.
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23.  
Use archival boxes, folders and other materials for long term storage of your valuable photos and documents.
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24.  
Make plans for your genealogical collection to be preserved in the future. Besides an interested family member, arrangements can be made in advance to donate your collection to a local library, historical or genealogical society.
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25.  
Pay it forward. Take part in an indexing project, cemetery cleanup, assist others with their genealogy or become part of the leadership of your local genealogical society.
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26.  
Celebrate your culture, heritage and traditions. Holidays are the best time to create new memories and share with the younger generation.
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27.  
Consider taking DNA tests. Family Tree DNA, 23 and Me and Ancestry offer these tests at reasonable prices. Information is available on You Tube and the website for each company which should assist you in making a decision before ordering a kit.
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28.  
NewAttend a national conference. The Federation of Genealogical Societies and the National Genealogical Society sponsor conferences around the country. Learning and networking with others is the best reason to attend one or more of these events.
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29.  
NewBack up your files regularly.
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30.  
NewWrite a family history to share with your family, genealogy society, genealogy publication or local society.
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31.  
NewCelebrate your Polish heritage every October. Learn the language, prepare a new Polish recipe, display the Polish flag, attend an ancestral parish if possible or work on your family history. Subscribe to a Polish newspaper or read a book about Polish history. Learn the Polish National anthem, the five national dances of Poland or better yet, plan a trip to Poland!
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