FamilyTree-258x300Webinar Series 2016

The Polonica Americana Research Institute (PARI) is launching its Polish Genealogy Webinar Series.   PARI founder and genealogist, Ceil Wendt Jensen, will be periodically joined by guests from Poland. Each webinar includes the live event, a handout for each lecture, and access for replay for one month.

All proceeds support the genealogy work of The Polish Mission (501(c)3 non-profit). The lectures will be recorded live on the campus of St. Mary’s of Orchard Lake, Michigan.
The live webinars are hosted at Go To Webinar and they offer a primer for attendees:
All attendees will receive an email with the Go To Meeting link on the Monday prior to the Wednesday Webinar.

The archived webinars will be available via the Vimeo website which will host the Michigan Polish Heritage webinars after the live session. The private link will be sent to each attendee after the webinar.


1.  Intro to Polish Genealogy – March 2, 2016 – 1-2 p.m.

This session will dispel the myths that records were destroyed during the World Wars and that language barriers make research difficult. Learn about the foundation documents held in the U.S. that will lead you to your ancestral village in Poland. Practical examples and suggestions on how to use records, databases and archives to start or advance your Polish genealogical research.

2.  Advanced Polish Research – March 9, 2016 – 1-2 p.m.

This lecture will advance your research. Prerequisites for this course include identifying census records, ship manifests, and WWI Draft Registrations. We’ll cover finding your ancestors’ parish and civil registration records in Poland. Genealogist Ceil Wendt Jensen gives examples and suggestions on how to use advanced records, databases, and archives.

3.  A Guide to Genealogical Websites Based in Poland – March 16, 2016 – 1-2 p.m.
Is English your only language? Learn the tips and tricks perfected to extract useful data, maps, and genealogical matter from Polish archives, digital libraries, and regional websites. Case studies span Russian, Prussian, and German Partitions. During this session, you will learn how to find archives, libraries, museums and regional websites that contain materials relevant to your history.

4.  Now Boarding: Planning a Research Trip in Poland – March 23, 2016 – 1-2 p.m.
This session is based on over 30 years of travel experience leading overseas groups and research in Poland archives. Learn how to plan ahead, get the most for your dollar, travel light, and bring home the research you went for! This session includes examples and suggestions on how to prepare for a trip to Polish archives, parishes, and record repositories. This lecture covers techniques for finding Catholic, Lutheran, and Jewish records. Learn to write effective email to ESL speakers and how to hire a photographer, researcher and / or guide.

5.  The Polish Daily News tutorial — Dziennik Polski – April 6, 2016 – 1-2 p.m.  
First published in 1904, the Detroit-based newspaper, also known as The Polish Daily News, continues to leave its mark on Polonia. Volunteers at PARI have retrieved over 25,000 names from obituaries published in this newspaper between the years 1944-1980 (noninclusive). We are fundraising to bring the full run of the newspaper (1904-1985) available online as searchable and translatable .pdf files. Your generous gift will help us make this effort come to fruition allowing us to better focus on Polish immigration, assimilation, and cultural history not only here in metro Detroit; but state wide.

6.  This is Women’s Work – Midwifery – May 4, 2016 – 1-2 p.m.
Explore the records, traditions, and superstitions that accompanied our ancestors’ births. This session explores the role of midwives in the 19th and early 20th century in Poland and ethnic communities in America. Ledgers, licensing, and newspaper accounts document the important role of the midwives.

7.  An In-Depth Look at the Prussian Partition – May 11, 2016 – 1-2 p.m.
The Polish provinces of that make up this partition include East Prussia, known in German as Ostpreußen and West Prussia, known in German as Westpreußen. Additionally, the Province of Posen (German: Provinz Posen) will be listed in Polish documents as Prowincja Poznańska; Silesia (German: Provinz Schlesien) is Prowincja Śląska in Polish; part of the Province of Pomerania (German: Provinz Pommern) became Poland’s Województwo Pomorskie after World War II. Ancestors may have cited their place of birth as one of the larger cities such as Poznan, Września, Gniezno, Luboń, or Kalisz. They are more likely to have come from small villages or shtetls such as Tulce, Bnin, Rogalinek, or Świątniki. Join us and explore the records, maps, and history of this ancestral area.

8.  An In-Depth Look at Russian Poland – May 18, 2016 – 1-2 p.m.
Russian Poland was also known as Congress Poland or the Kingdom of Poland. This area of Poland was under Russian imperial rule from 1772-1918. Its population increased to 6.1 million in 1870 and 10 million in 1900. Ancestors might cite their place of birth as one of the larger cities in such as Płock, Łomża, Białystok, Warsaw, or Lublin. They are more likely to have come from shtetls or small villages such as Kuczbork, Posadów, or Ilza. Explore with us the history, maps, and records of this ancestral area.

9.  An In-Depth Look at Galicia – May 25, 2016 – 1-2 p.m.   RECORDED  SESSION  AVAILABLE
Not to be confused with a region of the same name located on the Iberian peninsula in Spain, Galicia was a historical region once part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, covering territory currently divided between southern Poland and Ukraine. The name changes slightly with regional languages: Galicja in Polish, Galizien in German, and Galytsye in Yiddish. Ethnic Polish ancestors coming from this region may be listed as “Austrian” in stateside records. Additionally, they may provide their birthplace as one of the major cities such as Lviv (Polish: Lwów, German: Lemberg), Kraków (German: Krakau, Yiddish: Kruke), or Przemyśl (Ukrainian: Peremyshl, German: Prömsel). However, in most cases, they were from outlying villages. The Polish Galician region had a varied ethnic mix: Poles, Ruthenians (Ukrainians), Germans, Armenians, Jews, Hungarians, and Romanians. Explore with us the records, maps, and history of this ancestral area.

10.  Immigration Agents – June 1, 2016 – 1-2 p.m.  CANCELLED
During the time period 1840s–1900, many states in the Union competed for immigrants and settlers. Learn how state agents, working with shipping lines, recruited future citizens both at U.S. ports and in villages and towns in Europe; and learn about the record sets they created.

11.  Locating and Deciphering Catholic Sacramental Records
Many researchers find their family line eventually leads to Catholic records. Missionaries and immigrants brought their religion from Europe to North and South America. A survey of the types of records kept and keys to extracting data. This session will highlight the rules established by the church for sacramental records. A rubric key and translation guide with a word list make the extractions manageable for family historians.

12.  Now Boarding: Planning a Research Trip in North America
Learn how to plan ahead, get the most for your dollar, travel light, and bring home the research you seek! Learn the ins and outs of making appointments with local experts and gaining access to records. This session includes examples and suggestions on how to prepare for a research trip in your own state or across the country. This lecture covers techniques for finding the archives, societies and local experts who hold the desired information and records.

13.  Understanding Polish Given Names, Surnames, and Locations
Is English your only language? Mine, too. Learn the tips and tricks I’ve perfected to extract and convert anglicized names back into the correct Polish form. Case studies for Poles from the Russian, Prussian, and German partitions. Without the correct form of your Polish ancestors’ given name and surname, not to mention location of birth, it will be extremely difficult to find their Polish vital records. This session will instruct researchers how to convert names and locations into proper Polish. A survey of the Polish alphabet and diacritics is included.

14.  The Peasants – Illustrated
Selected Polish paintings are used to illustrate Władysław Reymont’s Nobel Prize winning novel Chłopi (The Peasants) — the four part series having been written between 1904 and 1909. Have you ever wondered what life was like in your ancestor’s village? Experience it in Władysław Reymont’s Chłopi which received the Noble Prize for Literature in 1924. This lecture focuses on the novel set in the late 1890s and moves through the seasons as it highlights the life and turmoil of the Boryna family. Learn the Polish traditions, customs, and folklore of the time. The lecture showcases the works of Polish artists including Jacek Malczewski, Włodzimierz Tetmajer, Olga Boznańska, and Stanisław Witkiewicz.

15.  The Peasant and the Palace: Researching Polish Manor Records
The session demonstrates how to research ancestors’ lives as workers on a manorial estate. The Manorial system was the organization of the rural economy and society throughout Europe. Records, maps and histories of the manors help family historians expand their knowledge of their ancestors. The session concludes with a survey of available Polish records and practical guidance to the repositories.

16.  Family Photos: Repair, Preserve, and Share
Photographs are a window to the past and families can easily have photos that are 100 years old. This lecture is taught by a former photo teacher and covers how to repair, share, and archive your family photographs and negatives. A survey of how to identify photos, common problems, and solutions, use of enhancing software, sharing programs, and archival products for storage.

17.  Seeking Fathers, Mothers, Sisters, and Brothers
The records of ordained priests, mother superiors and religious brothers and sisters are a neglected but rich source of genealogical information. This lecture is a survey of the types of records kept by religious orders. Tips for identifying the proper congregation and their respective archives at motherhouses, chanceries, and monasteries.

18.  Behind the Scenes at Polish Repositories
This lecture is based on interviews conducted on site with the directors of repositories in the U.S. and Poland. Learn about the unique materials held throughout Polonia, the archives in Poland, and the concentration camp museums such as Stutthof and Auschwitz-Birkenau. Researchers will learn about records, maps, and ephemera held at repositories that go beyond vital records.

19.  Mapmaking for Genealogists
But have you ever considered making maps for your family history? This session covers how to make period maps for your ancestors’ history – and your own. Learn how to use traditional art materials as well as software programs to create unique maps that illustrate your family history. Case studies from the United States and Europe are featured.

20.  How to Find the Maps You Need for Your Research
Whether it’s finding the family farm on a plat map or the changing borders of a county or country; maps are indispensable. A range of digital and archival sources, types and applications of maps will be covered. Online collections and archival holdings make it easy to access American and European maps pertinent to the time period you are researching. This session covers how to find the old, new, and digital maps you need for your family research.

21.  Displaced Persons
Genealogists who want to document their family history, which includes World War II Displaced Persons, will look at traditional as well as unique records to find answers to their family’s mysteries. While the events that forced them from their homeland took place over seventy years ago, there are survivors still searching for friends and family and documentation of this harsh period of their life. A paper trail was created, and we will explore the archives, associations, and organizations that have record sets of interest.

22.  The ABCs of School Records
School records have been kept for centuries and are a great source of information. Learn how to access public and private records spanning K-12 through university to round out your family history. Both North American and European records will be discussed. The lecture is a survey of school records and their repositories presented by a former classroom teacher. Records and yearbooks, as well as related memorabilia, will also be covered.

23.  Records Arising from Death
This session covers North American and European funerary customs and records. We will cover records from churches, undertakers, stonemasons, cemeteries, and societies that sponsor burial grounds for their members. Learn about home wakes and view photos made at graveside. The lecture includes photos of funeral cards and announcements, record books, cemeteries, tombstones, and exhumation. You will be surprised at the wealth of information available.

24.  How to Design and Self Publish a Pictorial History
Lecture outline/summary. Attendees will learn the process of researching, digitizing, designing, writing, and launching a pictorial history. Learn how to obtain images and stories – and try your hand at laying out a chapter with the supplied photos and caption prompts. The lecture is based on the author’s three pictorial history books: Detroit’s Polonia, Detroit’s Mount Elliott Cemetery and Detroit’s Mount Olivet Cemetery.

25.  Working the Line-Documenting Auto-Workers
Straight from the Motor City, the lecture Working the Line covers the recruitment, training, and employment records as well as archives maintained by automakers and unions. What was life like for an assembly line worker at the plants during the auto makers’ heyday and what types of records were generated? Hand in hand with factory life was the formation and negotiations of the unions such as the UAW, AFL-CIO. This lecture covers records and publications relevant to autoworkers and their unions.