Thanks to guest blogger, Lisa Alzo, for this article.
Is finally finding those elusive East European ancestors one of your genealogy goals or resolutions for 2013? You’ll be happy to know that with greater access to records, and a number of archival efforts in various countries, more information is coming online. Here are five places to start your search.
1. FamilySearch. With millions of records online that can be viewed for free—including many for Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and Ukraine—the FamilySearch site is a fabulous resource. Start with the FamilySearch Wiki to learn more about each country, and about FamilySearch digitized and microfilm record collections, and find links to maps, gazetteers, word lists, letter writing guides, and more!
2. Online archival sites. Many archives and organizations are digitizing records and putting them online. Some examples include: Acta Publica and Prague City Archives (Czech Republic) Estonian Historical Archives (Estonia), Geneteka (Poland) Latvian State Historical Archives (Latvia).
3. Federation of East European Family History Societies. Use the Federation of East European Family History Societies (FEEFHS) free online map library to view historic maps to help you pinpoint your ancestral town or village, and its free resource directory to follow links to country-specific genealogy resources.
4. Special collections of libraries and repositories. Public and university libraries have books, manuscripts, microfilmed records and other special collections worth searching for information you might be missing. Many have begun digitizing records and making them available online (some to the general public). If the records are not digitized, most sites have finding aids or research guides you can download to learn about both online and onsite research. A few excellent examples include Connecticut Polish American Archives at Central Connecticut State University, the Polish Room at the University of Buffalo, The Czech and Slovak Collections at the Library of Congress, and the Slavic Resources and Ukrainian Collection at the University of Toronto. You can also search WorldCat to locate other libraries and collections.
5. Google. Utilize the power of Google to search for your ancestors’ names and hometowns. You would be surprised at how many towns and villages have their own Websites. In addition, you may find a blog (Geneabloggers lists more than 3,000 genealogy and family history blogs), a Facebook page, or a Pinterest board related to surnames or places you’re researching. Don’t forget to use the advanced search feature to find pages published in a particular region (e.g. Slovakia, Hungary, etc.)
Want to learn more? Register for the free January 23, 2013 Legacy Family Tree webinar on Best Internet Resources for East European Genealogy, and check out the currently available Legacy QuickGuides™ on Czech, Slovak, and Croatian genealogy. Watch for other guides coming soon!
Even if your family history quest does not take you to Eastern Europe, you can still investigate the above resources and tailor your searches to suit your needs!
Lisa A. Alzo is a freelance writer, instructor, and lecturer who has been tracking her ancestors for over 23 years. She is a frequent presenter for the Legacy Family Tree Webinars series and can be contacted via http://www.lisaalzo.com.