Why is it that the book you needed a few years ago isn’t published until now? The Family Tree Polish, Czech & Slovak Genealogy Guide: How to Trace Your Family Tree in Eastern Europe by expert Lisa Alzo is more than a regional research guide; it’s an indispensable roadmap for anyone researching European ancestors.
In fact, Alzo’s new book could easily be titled “Trace Your Family Tree in Europe” because the essential background is useful for identifying and locating immigrants of many ethnic origins. After an introduction to Polish, Czech & Slovak heritage in Chapter One, the author moves on to information I can use with my Prussian and German research. For example, Chapter 2 presents a helpful graphic process map for searching for immigrant ancestors.
From “Step 1: Establish the date of arrival for your immigrant ancestor” through “Step 7: Write to archives, churches, or registrars” the author gives detailed examples for creating timelines and chronologies to help determine that elusive “date of arrival,” followed by charts and forms for analyzing information about collateral relatives and working with cluster research.
And, when you arrive at the final step and are ready to contact foreign repositories, you’ll find customizable fill-in-the-blank letters for requesting information from Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia.
Anyone researching immigrant ancestors will find useful techniques applicable to all levels of genealogical research: using research logs, citing sources, organizing data and working with name changes and name variations. Specific sections highlight record groups of interest in immigrant research, such as immigration records, naturalization records, passport applications, newspapers, and immigrant fraternal organization records.
Genealogists with Polish, Czech or Slovak ancestors will find a useful overview of each country’s history, geography, and culture. In addition, the extensive section, “Getting to Know the Old Country,” offers a broad look at Eastern European geography maps, atlases, and gazetteers, which can be puzzling for new researchers.
With over 26 years of Eastern European research experience, Lisa Alzo knows the records and what can be located online and onsite. Whether you are working with records for birth and baptism, marriage, death and burial, or the census you’ll find clear examples with callouts that explain the format and foreign language for records used in each country. Additional information on locating and understanding military records is featured in a separate chapter. And when you’re ready to travel to the Old Country, Alzo has suggestions for a successful research trip In a chapter devoted to “Heritage Travel and On-site Research.”
Seasoned Eastern European researchers will find challenges in the author’s case studies and and advanced research strategies for breaking through Polish, Czech, and Slovak brickwalls. Extensive material in the book’s appendix supplement understanding the foreign languages, and present a comprehensive listing of useful research repositories in the United States and Europe.
Author Lisa Alzo has researched her Eastern European roots for nearly three decades and published ten books and countless magazine articles about her Slovak heritage. She is a popular lecturer at national and regional conferences and webinars, contributing editor for Family Tree Magazine and teaches online courses for Family Tree University and the National Institute for Genealogical Studies.
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