Genealogy  of      
        Halychyna /
              Eastern Galicia
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New Book: Ukrainian Genealogy: A Beginner's Guide by John D. Pihach
New Book: Going Home: A Guide to Polish American Family History Research by Jonathan Shea
 

Locating Vital Records
An Overview and Step-By-Step Approach

 

The first step in locating vital records is knowing your ancestral town or village.  Visit my page devoted to this important first step--finding your ancestral village.

 

The next step in finding vital records is knowing the Roman Catholic and/or Greek Catholic parish to which your village belonged.  Keep in mind that  parish borders may have changed over time and your village records may be found in more than one parish.  Of course, knowing the religious center for your ancestral home is important for Jewish, Lutheran and other religious groups, as well.  To find out this information, you must go to gazetteers.  See my page on gazetteers to learn about various Galician gazetteers.  (Or, for impatient folks, you can do a quick search of a database of parishes as found in the Gemeindelexikon der im Reichsrate vertretenen Konigreiche und Lander (Gazetteer of the Crown Lands and Territories Represented in the Imperial Council) of 1907.)

Once you've located this place, you should learn all you can about it.  This will not only help your research (including finding neighboring villages to look for "missing" relatives), it will give you a sense of how your ancestors lived and add depth to your family history.  You can learn more by using the Galician gazetteers and internet searches.

 

Once you learn the parish name, you can begin your search for records.  Search by village name and parish name in the following three possible places a vital record can be:

  1. The first place to check is the Family History Library (FHL) to see if you can view records easily right near your own home.  The records may have been microfilmed by the Family History Library and are available to be viewed through the Family History Library or your local Family History Center.  Also, check to see if any records have been digitized and available for immediate viewing!  (Note that the FHL is aggresively digitizing their entire collection of microfilmed records, however, most records are still available only in microfilm format.)

    First, search the main database of records in the Family History Library.  Proceed to my page on the Family History Library Collection for more information and link directly to the www.familysearch.org  searchable database.


  2. There are many websites with collections of online records.  Wonderful sites are consistantly appearing so it's difficult to keep up!  However, here are the most popular websites to date:


  3. The records could be housed at a repository or archive in either Ukraine or Poland, but there are no microfilms available at the Family History Library.  Proceed to Archival research in Ukraine and Poland for information and tips along with a searchable database of parish registers housed in Polish Regional State Archives.

  4. Unfortunately, a very real possibility is that the records no longer exist.  Although possible, the situation is not as bad as previously thought before the break up of the Soviet Union, when the status of such materials was not known and feared lost forever.  But still, time is not always kind to paper documents.  Natural catastrophes, such as fires and floods, did as much damage as man-made world wars, civil wars, and revolutions.  For such bad luck, the genealogist must turn to other types of sources to research a family history.

 

Once you've located records, go back to my general page on Vital Records for information on the language of the records, tips on translating, convenient tutorials and document examples.

 

Happy Hunting!

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