16 October 2009

Chicago: Polish translation guide

The third edition of a book which helps researchers translate 19th century Polish language civil registration documents is detailed in this article.

"A Translation Guide to 19th Century Polish Language Civil Registration Documents," by Judith R. Frazin, was available at the Philly 2009 conference, published by the Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois. The book review includes an interview with Judith, who is well-known in Jewish genealogical circles.

It also mentions Judith's two upcoming appearances - the book will be available at both programs:

-- 2pm, Sunday, October 18: "Finding Treasure in 19th Century Polish Documents," at 2 p.m. Sunday at Temple Beth Israel, Skokie. There is no charge.

-- 1.30pm, Sunday, October 25: A beginner's workshop, open to the public, Northbrook Public Library.
Northbrook resident Judith R. Frazin, an award-winning genealogist with a special knack for language, has released the newest version of a book that already is a vital tool both for Polish and Jewish history scholars and ordinary people hoping to trace their family history.
She's been working on Jewish genealogy for 39 years, served 10 years as president of the JGS of Illinois, and also served on the IAJGS board. She received the Wigilia Medal of the Polish Genealogical Society of America.

Although Judith doesn't read, write or speak Polish, she has made it easier for researchers similarly linguistically challenged with the tool she's created to unlock those records.
Frazin focuses on documents that followed the Napoleonic Code, the system of civil laws formalized in 1804. The narrative style was used only within “Russian” Poland, although Krakow, a city located in “Austrian” Poland is an exception to the rule. In the rest of “Austrian” Poland, a column-like format in German or Latin was usually used, and in areas of Poland under German control, various formats were used, though mostly in German.

Her guide is not a dictionary, since the scope of the actual documents is more limited. However, most of the Polish words in the guide were found in actual documents, which Frazin believes is an advantage since a researcher does not have to go through page after page to find what is desired.
Words in the guide are alphabetized and sub-divided into 15 topics, such as age, birth, census, death, family, illness, etc. The book's other sections include suggestions on how to locate an old Polish town on a modern map, how to find old documents and indices from Polish towns, sample records in both block and cursive script, and direction as to how to extract the data from the documents. There's a list of 19th-century given names, finding records at Polish archives, and more.

The article also offers insight into her family, with a great story about her grandmother.
“The story I was told was that my grandparents lived in the same town, Staszow, near Krakow, met and fell in love. But her father was not in favor of the marriage, though nobody seemed to know why. So my grandparents ran away, intending to elope. My grandmother's father found out, grabbed a horse and wagon, went after them and brought them back. My grandmother was ‘grounded,' but made some excuse to leave the house and went straight to my grandfather's home, where they were married. He then emigrated to the United States in 1903 and sent for her a few months later. I had known my grandmother all my life and I absolutely could not see her in this situation,” she added.
Read the complete article at the link above, which also explains how to purchase the book ($41).

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