Thursday, December 3, 2020

Exploring Additional Resources


It is sometimes thanks to those informal connections we make with other family history researchers that we can find those tucked-away resources off the beaten path of the commercialized genealogy universe. That has certainly been the case as I have explored my Polish roots over the years.

Besides the Poznan Project I mentioned yesterday, there is one other resource I'm using. Again, it is based on transcriptions of documents, but the website also cross-links with actual scans of the documents used for the indexing project. The website is called BaSIA, or as the acronym is translated into English, the "Database of Archival Indexing System." 

For the intrepid researcher unfazed by random appearances of Polish without the reassuring accompaniment of English translations, this website provides exactly what one might need when researching the homeland records of our uprooted Polish ancestors. Though run mostly by volunteers, looking at their "about" page, one can begin to spot names listed who also play active roles in the other Polish website I've lately been using, the Poznan Project.

My task right now is to see if I can actually sort those Gramlewicz surnames from Zerkow into family groupings. I have a specific reason for this: I am grappling with not one but two marriages between Laskowskis and Gramlewiczes, and I would like some documentary determination to settle just how the two couples might be related.

Of course, despite search engine capabilities, this task still requires sifting through piles of records. So far, I've been able to sort some of those Gramlewicz surnames into two family groupings, but there are apparently more mentions of that surname without means indicated to link them back to their parental units. This is the nature of drudge work: tedious and boring, it's just a journey one must take, step by unremarkable step. Not the type of material to write home about, let alone feature in a blog post.

One bright spot, as I trudge along, was to notice the wide time span covered by the BaSIA collection. I've found mentions from the very early 1800s all the way through early 1900s. Not everything is included within that date range—I spotted gaps in the dates for a good chunk of the mid-century—but sometimes the story can be recovered by inferences, such as death records, which contain the age at passing as well as name of parents and spouse.

Sometimes, it also takes time to seek out the back story for why certain details are included in specific records. Why, for instance, are some people listed as witnesses for marriages? Or seemingly unrelated people included by mention in a death record? Knowing the reason why certain details are included in the document may help open up our understanding of how certain members of the community fit into a specific role. I've seen, for instance, one particular Gramlewicz man mentioned additionally in several of the community's documents, not just in those specifically involving his own family. Could that have signified a position of authority or respect in the community? Or maybe he was just the convenient guy to grab, who lived next door to the church or courthouse. These are questions to delve into, from the general perspective of local history, which may help reveal more about the family.

Meanwhile, I'll be back at the records, once again, from the Laskowski side of the equation, to see if there is anything else that can be gleaned to explain how the two Laskowski-Gramlewicz couples from Zerkow, Poland, might have been related.

Maybe, like they say in the South, they are just "kin."

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