Archive for November, 2011

November 4, 2011

Joseph Conrad = Jozef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

During, October (Polish Heritage Month), when I wrote about Polish literati, I neglected to mention, Joseph Conrad. A huge oversight on my part, that I did not realize until afterwards, when I had read Donna Pointkouski’s comment with a link to her fine article on Polish authors.

I hope you can already guess the reason for my mental blunder, Joseph Conrad, was born Jozef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski. He was born 3-December-1857 in Berdichev (Polish: Berdyczów, in the Russian Gubernia, of Kiev). Donna’s article said his first language was Polish and his second language was French and that Joseph Conrad did not become fluent in English until his 20’s. I have to wonder that perhaps that there must have been some Russian nestled in between Polish and French given his birthplace and early life. At any rate, it is a marvel that he could be so literate in English and that his literary prose so remarkable, considering it was not his native language. Now he has a rather lengthy bibliography and this jester can only claim to have read, Heart of Darkness (1899).

Check out the wikipedia article from the above link. Look at the picture of Conrad. You can see the noble birth writ upon his face and his intellect is there too in his eyes. This man should have been an author – thank goodness he became one.

For Stanczyk, who came across Conrad later in life and having only read Heart of Darkness, I categorized him in with his contemporaries: Robert Louis Stevenson, Rudyard Kipling, & Sir Henry Rider Haggard (who? – author of Solomon’s Mines, creator of the “Lost World” literary genre) and their literary inheritors: Edgar Rice Burroughs (not so much Tarzan as his John Carter character) and Robert E. Howard. There may be many others, but these are the ones I have read. I am sure Ernest Hemmingway read Conrad from Hemmingway’s quotes and there are elements in Hemmingway’s works/life that bring to mind Joseph Conrad. So I guess my brain “Anglicized” this brilliant author who wrote such fluid prose in English and imbued it with his Slavic soul.

That is my mea culpa for omitting Joseph Conrad in October and I am sticking with it.

November 3, 2011

Social Security Administration (SSA) changed the Death Master File (SSDI); #Genealogy, #Sources

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

In a nice piece of Genealogical Journalism, Steve Danko (eminent Polish genealogist — see my blogroll on the right), posted about the Social Security Administration (SSA) changing its Death Master File (DMF), aka the Social Security Database or SSDI,  that we use as a major source of genealogical data. Their change, which you can read about in Steve’s blog, took place on November 1st (two days ago) without much fanfare or any fore knowledge. Now as an IT Expert for the last quarter century, I understand the SSA’s rationale — it is a data privacy / legal issue. Its impact is immediate. 4.2 Million records have been deleted from the former 89 Million records (approximately 4.72%) and have vanished because it was “Sourced” from various US States (and not updated from those States’ records). This article is not about discussing the whys and what-nots of the SSA’s decision. This post is about the ramifications of that decision for genealogy.

Two impacts are explicit. 4.2 Million source records disappeared. Going forward, 1 Million records per year will not be loaded (or is it more proper to say, will be in suspense until a source comes forward for that death). Let’s talk about the 4.2 Million records that disappeared 1-November-2011. Some percentage of those records were used in some genealogist’s family research and are documented therein. However, the source is now gone?? If you were diligent and documented the SSA’s DMF (aka SSDI) in your research and that record disappeared, then future researchers will be left wondering what happened. Is this researcher accurate? So,  I propose that everyone use their favorite DMF/SSDI and verify their source is still there (or that it is gone). Furthermore, if it is gone, then I propose a note be entered in your source documentation of this “Event” that happened 11/01/2011 and that a reference back to the state where the death took place (and/or county) be mentioned as the place to get extant documentation and that the previous source documentation was removed by the US Government pursuant to this “Event”.

Apparently, you will need to verify your DMF/SSDI source for ALL deaths from 2002 through to 11/01/2011. Before that , there are no changes that need to be verified. Use your family tree software, pull a report of deaths from 2002-2011 inclusive and work your way through the list.

I think it is still a FACT. The death is still a FACT; but the evidence to support the FACT is now missing unless you have a death certificate or other source for the death date / place. That is why I propose a note be placed into your documentation of your sources. What you know, has NOT changed. How you know of the death has effectively been changed (rug pulled out from underneath you).

There is so much more that could be discussed on this topic.  But this much is my topic and the subject of this post. Good Luck and get started.

–Stanczyk

P.S.

I guess to the litany of investigatory questions, we will now see/hear: …

“What did you know? When did you know it? Do you still know it?

November 2, 2011

Dziennik Polski, Detroit, MI – Index, Summary Update #HistoricalNewspaper

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Well Stanczyk have been busy for a few days, trying to update the Rootsweb page dedicated to the Dziennik Polski, Detroit, MI Polish Language Ethnic Newspaper.

The Index page with the names has been updated with nearly 7,000 new names / dates from 1936.  The Summary of all Dziennik Polski transcriptions now totals 48,217 of which 26,745 of those names are indexed and the summary page is here.

The Index page is alphabetical by Last Name, First Name, Date of Newspaper (when the name appeared).  Use your browser’s FIND capability (Ctrl-F in Windows, Cmd-F in Mac) to search for a name or just scroll the page.

 

November 1, 2011

#Tradition & #Holidays – All Hallows Eve, All Saint’s Day, All Souls’ Day

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

The celebration of All Saints Day (also known as All Hallows Day), for known and unknown saints, on November 1st was introduced into the Church Liturgy by Pope John XI in the year 835, while the church holiday, All Souls’ Day on November 2nd began more than 150 years later in 998, when the  Benedictine Monks began to say the mass and prayers in the intention for all the deceased.

In Polish tradition (Polskiej tradycji), especially the folk tradition, both these holidays, but All Saints’ Day in particular, are devoted to praying for the souls of the dead. In a sense this is a continuation of the ceremonies for the dead performed by their descendants (uh, us).

On All Saints’ Day all Polish cemeteries (cmentarze) are visited by many people who come to pray over the graves of their loved ones. Candles are lit on every grave  and flowers are put on them too. The custom requires us  to burn candles in colorful glass with lids specially made to help keep the candle lit for hours,  and to lay flowers interwoven with evergreen boughs. This is also done for old, unattended and forgotten graves, visited by no one.

There is also a custom of providing food on these days. So many cemeteries have little picnics in them. These days are not so sad or solemn as much as they are celebrations of those who preceded us and without whom, we would not be here today. The food is from a belief that a loved one could appear as a beggar, so food may be left behind or donated.

There is also a belief that the night between All Saints Day (November 1st) and All Souls Day (November 2nd) is when departed spirits are closest to our human vale.  Perhaps you know the night before All Saints Day – it is called All Hallows Eve, which we (in the USA) call by the contraction: Halloween.

Blessings for your holidays and May God Bless our ancestors too !

My Prayers are also that Blessed Pope John Paul II become a known saint.

–Stanczyk

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