Local History used to enrich Genealogical Research
One of the things that I enjoy most about researching my ancestry is learning the local history of my ancestors. The majority of the time the history is from a place or country that is completely foreign to me. The local history can give insight to the life and times of my ancestors. The difficult part of learning this history is overcoming the language barrier. A great deal of the most valuable and insightful local history is written in a foreign language. With Polish research many of the local histories are written in Polish, German, and Russian due to the partitions. Some of the church histories can even be written in Latin.
But, to learn more about the history a person will need to become proficient in understanding the fundamentals of the language. One does not need to know everything about the language, but one needs to become efficient enough to know how to navigate through the information and/or find details that will advance their knowledge base.
From websites to books (including virtual), there are many resources available to learn about local histories from the area and time of our ancestors. Learning how to overcome the language barrier can be difficult, but can be attainable. Learning how to navigate or understand a foreign language can be achieved by using books, websites, computer programs, or even through a class. Even learning to navigate through a foreign language dictionary helps immensely.
For example, the Polish Center of Wisconsin offers Polish language classes taught by a professor from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. I was fortunate enough to have taken Polish I and II by this means. Once you have an understanding of the foreign language, you can start broadening your scope of research possibilities.
One example of searching for local histories is navigating through a Polish Diocese website. The information that can be utilized from a Diocese website includes: which parishes belong to which deaneries; which villages, towns, or cities belong to which parishes; parish and church histories; and addresses of parishes, information needed if attempting to write a pastor for family history.
In upcoming posts, I’ll share what I learned from the Pelpliń Diocese website. I will detail information regarding various parishes and deaneries. Hopefully, by my example others will see the value in learning about local histories written in foreign language.