Polish Genealogical Society of Michigan
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1.  
Polish genealogy is a quest to learn about our ancestors, their culture, traditions, language and history.
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2.  
We learn about conducting genealogical research by reading books, using online search engines such as Google, webinars, pod casts, websites, taking classes, joining societies and attending conferences related to Polish genealogy.
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3.  
Pedigree charts, group sheets and other forms are used to record information while performing genealogical research about our families. There are many types of forms available.
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4.  
Interviewing relatives and recording their memories give clues and insight into the lives of our families. Take photographs and always ask permission beforehand.
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5.  
Organization is key to preserving all collected information. There are software programs to purchase or some are free. Use them to organize your facts. You may choose to keep all of your information in binders. Develop a system that works for you and keep it.
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6.  
Cite your sources. It is important to record the source of information.
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7.  
Learn basic genealogy terms in English, German, Latin, Polish and Russian. Dictionaries, genealogy books and online guides supply these words and terms.
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8.  
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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9.  
Visit free sites like Family Search.org to look for available records. Information is added almost daily. There are pay sites such as Ancestry.com and Fold 3 which will have free searches that coincide withe certain occasions. Libraries have subscriptions to pay sites.
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10.  
There are many Polish genealogical societies, digital libraries and archives which can be used to research your family. Some are in English; some contain just enough English to help navigate the site. Check frequently for new records.
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11.  
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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12.  
Spend a day visiting your local library or archive and become familiar with their holdings. Death indexes, city directories, county histories and microfilmed records 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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13.  
Visit 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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14.  
At 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 systems record 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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15.  
Obituaries and death notices yield additional clues about your family. In some areas, there are ethnic newspapers to check as well as the local daily papers. Take into consideration that newspapers are not indexed.
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16.  
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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17.  
Facebook is a wonderful tool for doing your family history. It is free to register, easy to search and join specific groups. Your timeline and personal information is controlled by you with security and privacy controls in place.
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18.  
Message 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 becoming an important genealogical tool for research because answers can be instantaneous after the question is posted.There are many specialized groups to join. 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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19.  
Once you have the proper documents that define your ancestral village, check the catalog at FamilySearch.org to see if there are microfilms. This is a good time to become familiar with using Polish websites such as Google.pl. The Polish version of wiki has extra information not found on the English version. Explore Polish map sites, genealogical societies and digital libraries.
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20.  
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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21.  
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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22.  
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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23.  
Visit your ancestral villages. 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.
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24.  
Keep a diary of your trip.
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25.  
Share your success stories with others by writing an article for publication in a genealogical magazine or journal.
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26.  
Share your research with other family members.
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27.  
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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28.  
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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29.  
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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30.  
Use archival boxes, folders and other materials for long term storage of your valuable photos and documents.
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31.  
Photograph valuable family heirlooms and inventory special pieces.
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32.  
Maps are very important to use when doing your research. Use historical and modern maps for comparison.
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33.  
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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34.  
Back up your files regularly.
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35.  
Attend a national conference.
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