One of my (very many) hobbies is working my my family tree. I’ve been working on it when the mood strikes for about 15 years now. I “interviewed” my maternal grandparents as well as my mother. Since we are native Polish, my grandparents had a lot of stories of their lives during World War II, but we can leave that for another time. My mother, unfortunately, did not remember my paternal grandmother’s maiden name, so that has become my brick wall covered in cement and rebar.
Making a family tree is an exciting project that can help you learn about your family’s history and heritage. A family tree is essentially a diagram that traces your family lineage, going back as far as you can go. It starts with you and branches out downwards to your children and upwards to your parents, and their parents, and so on.
If you’re interested in tracing your family roots in Poland (since this is what my main experience is in), there are several resources you can use. Here are some steps to get you started:
- Start with what you know: Begin by creating a chart that includes yourself, your parents, and your grandparents. Try to include as much information as possible, such as their full names, birth dates, and birthplaces, but only if you know them as facts.
- Talk to relatives: Reach out to family members who may have information about your ancestors. They may be able to provide you with stories, photos, or documents that can help you piece together your family history. This is why I am so grateful to have gotten the information that I did when they were still alive!
- Check online resources: There are several online resources that can help you search for your ancestors in Poland. One such website is the Polish State Archives (http://szukajwarchiwach.pl/), which allows you to search for vital records such as birth, marriage, and death certificates. My most favorite one to use is Genetka (https://geneteka.genealodzy.pl/), which allows you to search many parish records online.
- Hire a professional researcher: If you’re having difficulty finding information on your own, consider hiring a professional researcher who specializes in Polish genealogy. They may have access to resources and databases that aren’t available to the general public.
- Visit Poland: If you have the time and resources, consider traveling to Poland to visit the places where your ancestors lived. You may be able to find additional information by visiting local archives, cemeteries, or churches. I am hoping to go back one day to visit Poland. I would love to see how my town has changed as well as to look for information that I cannot get now.
Once you have gathered as much information as possible, you can start creating your family tree. There are many tools available to help you create a visually appealing chart, including software programs, websites, and even printable templates. I use MyHeritage (www.myheritage.com) as my primary family tree. I use this one the most since there are a lot of Polish people that use it.
When creating your family tree, it’s important to include as much information as possible, such as full names, birth and death dates, and relationships between family members. You may also want to include photos or other mementos to help bring your family history to life. I have recently started adding old photos to my tree. MyHeritage has many fun photo things, like animating the photographs or fixing damage.
Making a family tree can be a rewarding and enlightening experience, especially if you have roots in other countries like Poland. Any new find is extra special because it’s a bit of a harder search and I feel like it brings me closer to my roots. I hope that you can uncover fascinating information about your family’s history and create a lasting tribute to your ancestors while working on your family tree. And if you have any ideas on how to find on my paternal grandmother and her maiden name, please let me know!