Archive for January, 2013

January 26, 2013

RootsMagic iPhone/iPad App — #Genealogy #Software #Review, #RootsTech

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

RootsMagicAppThis jester has been a big proponent of Ubiquitous Genealogy – i.e. genealogy is portable and everywhere. I have used the Ancestry App for a long while and am well satisfied. They use a concept of synching the App with  your tree and their website. Now that the kinks are worked out, I am well satisfied. There are also MyHeritage and Heredis  Apps too. These do not synch over the “air”. You need to use your iTunes application on your desktop/laptop to move files into the App’s “sandbox” via synching your iPhone/iPad with the laptop/desktop over the iPhone/iPad cable. Tethered synching is ok but a hindrance.

Ok so the new App on the block is an offering called RootsMagic.   Stanczyk likes the Roots Magic laptop application as a full blown offering for working on your genealogy and documenting the tree and finding data on the Internet and keeping track of to-do lists, publishing your tree on CD/Web and all sorts of work that you do when your research spans years (or decades) – does anyone ever finish their genealogy? Its modern and uses Universal Character sets (so us Slavic Researchers can use our slashed Ł’s  or Cyrillic  Я’s) and other features that the Internet Genealogists have grown up with.  So I was hopeful when I received an email from Roots Magic touting their iOS offerings – Its free!

The App starts with the familiar Roots Magic splash screen that you may have grown accustomed to from the laptop application. You are then presented with a list of files from their sandbox (ugh, tethered synching). Once you select a file to work with, your family tree is presented in a Pedigree form (with three generations visible on iPhone/ four generations on iPad). At the top left is a green/white button with three lines (see image)  that will allow you to pick a particular person with whom you wish to work upon. At the bottom of the screen are four buttons:

Files,   Views,   Lists,   Tools

Files – Lets you select the family tree file you want to on from your Device or from DropBox (a cloud-based file storage service). It also has HELP (files??) which tell you how to use your Device or DropBox to get a file loaded into the App. Sadly,  the RootsMagic app does not read standard gedcom (ged)  files. It only reads files with rmgc extension (i.e. created by Roots Magic laptop application). However, it does load their database extremely fast from those rmgc files.

Views – Lets you choose to view the data in a PEDIGREE tree  or a FAMILY tree or in a DESCENDENTS outline  or in the detailed FACTS (events), NOTE, direct family members of the current INDIVIDUAL. I prefer working in FAMILY (as seen in image) view mode, then switching to INDIVIDUAL view mode for any details on that person. Clicking on NOTE really gives you access to NOTE(S), SOURCE(S), and MEDIA for that individual (and a BACK button at the top to return to INDIVIDUAL view mode).

Lists – This just gives a list of your: Sources, To-Dos, Research, Media, Addresses, Repositories, Correspondences, and PLACES. I liked places (which showed that this jester really needs to make his Places (Locations) conform to some kind of standard).

Tools – Date Calculator, Relationship Calculator, Soundex Calculator, and Calendar. Unimpressive to say the least. Lest you get your hope up, the Calendar tool only displays the Calendar for a Month/Year of your choice [I did not verify the Julian/Gregorian boundary to see if it calculates a proper month calendar for dates before 1582]. It was not worth the effort as I did not see why I would want to see what day  June 3rd, 1700 would fall on (Thursday) if you are eyes are young or your glasses are a good prescription to read the day name. Otherwise, you not notice the day names on an iPhone  [perhaps a black font, instead of gray, would give better contrast]. The Soundex is only American Soundex – why not Daitsch-Mokotoff or Bieder-Morse codes too? Really, we Slavic researchers get short shrift in the software world.  Never fear, just create a desktop icon of Steve Morse’s Soundex page to see all three Soundex/Pattern Matching methods for your family names.

iPad vs iPhone

For some reason the iPad interface treats the buttons (Files, Views, Lists, Tools) differently on the iPad. That was a bit confusing until I got used to the difference. Rotating the iPad to landscape, also brings the Surnames/Search view along side whatever view you are in. The Calendar is a bit easier to see on the iPad, but I’d still like to see the day name text in black (or at least a MUCH darker gray).

UbiquitousGenealogyThe app is strictly for viewing your family tree (et. al.). There are no tools for modifying the tree for re-import into the desktop application. Shortcomings aside, it is still a very good first effort by Roots Magic. If you have the Roots Magic laptop application, then download the free app for your smartphone or tablet and go Ubiquitous. If you do not have the Roots Magic laptop application and do not have a way to get your ged converted to Roots Magic format (rmgc) then do NOT bother to download the app – you will not be able to use it.

P.S.  Do you spell  “DESCENDENT”  – as  D-E-S-C-E-N-D-E-N-T   or    D-E-S-C-E-N-D-A-N-T ?  Both spellings are correct, but I guess I use “DESCENDANT” all of the time and so the Roots Magic use startled me.

I also would love to see the REUNION app (the Mac Software vendor) make their iOS App free or low-cost – then I’d review it here too. I am a BIG Apple eco-system fan and as such have used REUNION Mac software for a very LONG time. I would be remiss not to mention that REUNION App does exist, but its cost is a bit steep relative to the other iPhone genealogy APPs in this article.

January 24, 2013

#Book #Review – The Violinist’s Thumb by Sam Kean

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

The Violinist’s Thumb by  Sam Kean -

contact:  samkean.com/contact

KeanCoversStanczyk is a BIG reader, definitely a bibliophile. My background is a computer scientist which means I am both a mathematician and computer specialist, with a school of engineering training. I have had a life-long affinity for science as well as mathematics (of which I view computers as just a branch thereof). However, in the spirit of this era’s memes, specifically, the STEM meme – we separate S.T.E.M. into constituent parts as: Science, Technology (computers no?), Engineering  and Mathematics. I had always thought of STEM as just Science & Mathematics (Ummm S&M ??) with Engineering being the School within which these topics were taught and Engineering being the rigorous discipline that is applied to various fields (Chemical Engineer, Construction Engineer, Electrical Engineer, Computer Engineer, Mechanical Engineer, etc.) and technology just an ubiquitous part. So Stanczyk considers himself a STEM knowledge worker.

Computers (Technology) often borrow concepts from other disciplines. For example, there are a whole set of “genetic” algorithms: cross-over, insertion, deletion, duplication, mutation, etc. Obviously, all branches of mathematics are represented in a wide swath of computer programs. So I have always viewed that a computer scientist would be a better professional by being well read and being able to borrow concepts from other fields to be able to bring to bear the broadest toolset to solve the great variety of challenges that a software developer is often faced with.

So now I come to this blog’s topic for today … a new book I read, The Violinist’s Thumb by  Sam Kean.

As a genealogist, I am fascinated by the thought of using genetics/DNA as another tool – however I do have some reservations (another blog post, another time). So when I saw this Kean book (published July 2012) I was intrigued. Perhaps you already know Sam Kean from his prior book, The Disappearing Spoon.

When I read a book or even before I decide to read a book, I examine a book’s “DNA” (cover, table of contents, author, etc.) to form an opinion of whether I want to invest myself in the effort. A quick scan of the book yields … the book’s organization: Introduction, Chapters (16), Epilogue, Acknowledgement, End Notes, Selected Bibliography, Index, spanning 401 pages including the index. Do not skip past the title page so quickly here. Part of the charm was the page after the title and before the table contents. It prodded my curiosity (see for yourself, I won’t ruin the surprise in this blog post, but I will email the author). Examining these parts, I linked this book in my mind to  Lewis CarrollDouglas Hofstadter and especially Stephen Jay Gould (a favorite science author of mine). So all-in-all, I decided to invest myself.

What is The Violinist’s Thumb About?

It is right there on the first page of the Introduction (which is actually page 3 – where is page 1 and 2 ??). The book is about DNA. Do not let that dissuade you. There is an interesting narrative about science and scientists and the history of DNA thought/understanding and how that understanding  evolved. The book is not bogged down in science jargon and your eyes will not gloss over with a baffling “scientific paper and statistical data” send-up. If you have read Stephen Jay Gould, then that is the tone and style of Sam Kean’s writing and it is comfortable for the non-scientist (like Stanczyk) and engaging with interesting stories and anecdotes while presenting the topic and the teaching/learning is subtle – this is not a text book nor scientific abstract, just an enjoyable read on a science topic that you may have an interest in or a curiosity about.

Criticism

Let me state up front, that my literary criticisms are slight and should not dissuade you from reading this book nor does it invalidate any of the author’s points.

[1]  ‘*’ -> look in Notes & Errata for that chapter;

It would be much better if Kean had numbered each ‘*’ note as  1,2,3 …

[2]  Page 216 referring to chimps & gorillas as “monkeys” instead of apes

[3] Chapter 14 is not about its title at all; No answer, nary any mention of the 3Billion and does not answer the title’s question

[4] 25,947 genes was lowest guess, but the actual number was not given. Was this the actual, exact number of genes?

Chap. 14, page 312.

[5] DNA debases???? I say no. The proper analogy is DNA is a historian/scribe. However, DNA history is not flattering.

[6] It took me really until Chapter 12 to understand the book title (was a reference to Paganini and his thumb)

Things I Learned

  • Radiation can be used to create mutations on demand
  • Lack of Variety in Human Genes (compared to the great apes)
  • 1815 Tambora Eruption caused 1816 year with no summer
  • Toba super-volcano Eruption 70,000 years BCE exacerbated that Ice Age, possibly causing a dire near-extinction event of humans (that did not affect the apes as much because the apes were further inland, away from Toba).
  • Zipf distributions in languages – DNA as a human language or Musical language
  • The greater the language diversity, the greater the DNA diversity. That is language diversity and DNA diversity go hand-in-hand (i.e. 1:1 correspondence). Click languages 100 sounds, English 40+ sounds, Hawaiian  around a dozen
  • mtDNA – mutation rate: once every 3,500 years
  • Mitochondrial Eve lived 170K years ago (see Wells book for a differing estimate)
  • At the DNA level, humans are 99.9 identical. So humans have less variability than the great apes.
  • Contrary to the Book of Mormon’s theological tenets, Native Americans were NOT descended from a Jewish tribe.

Things I Liked

  • Chapter 4 – The Musical Score of DNA  – DNA as a language, music (music as DNA), distribution of amino acids
  • Chapter 4 – Palindromes, in particular,  the palindrome square (from Pompeii)
  • Chapter 14 – The Human Genome Project – Science Race and Craig Venter’s impact
  • Epilogue – Craig Venter mapping his own genome

Things That Made Me Laugh

  • Craig Venter’s surprising chimp DNA (Chapter 14, page 313)
  • Chapter 8, pages 173-174 – The “gay bomb”
  • Lewis Carroll’s Mock Turtle appearance in Chapter 4
  • Bolsheviks & Humanzees (Stalin was a very naughty boy)

Things I Was Horrified By

  • Chapter 3 and  nijyuu hibakusha (Tsutomu Yamaguchi)
  • Chapter 7 and Machiavelli Microbe – Toxo (Toxoplasma gondii)
  • 8% of human genome is not human at all. It is virus DNA !
  • Human DNA suggests widespread cannibalism in all Haplotypes – although maybe that is explained by an early occurence in Africa >100,000 years ago before the diaspora/migration of modern humans [2014: I corrected this when I thought the canabilism referred to  must have happened after Haplotype diversity for this to be STILL true]
  • Chapter 12 and Paganini’s Thumb – ah the raison d’etre

Impressions

I decided to go back and re-read Deep Ancestry by Spencer Wells in parallel with this book. I wanted to consider Haplotypes and the historical migrations as it impacted and documented the human DNA’s evolution. I wish Sam Kean had included something on this – not a criticism, just a wish. I wanted a book about the human genome, its DNA and how it evolved. For me I wanted to form in my mind the DNA that is genealogy related and what that DNA implies. Kean’s book definitely gives the reader a flavor for the Human Genome Project (HGP).

Therefore, I needed to supplement Kean’s book with Deep Ancestry by Spencer Wells to answer my question about the parallel to Mitochondrial Eve (i.e. Y-Chromosome Adam ??). It turns out that Y-Chromosome Adam dates back to 60K years ago. Now I had to explain why Eve’s DNA goes back 40,000-110,000 more years than Adam’s DNA. So I needed the following factoids from Deep Ancestry :

  1. The Human genome contains about 30,000 genes
  2. 2.9-3.0 Billion  base-pairs (nucleotides) make up the human genome
  3. An average gene is 47.5K nucleotides in length (paired up in an helix) giving 95K on average in each gene. [derived by CME-S]
  4. Chromosomes vary in length from about 47M to 247M nucleotides
  5. There are 46 chromosomes. [derived, Ergo each Chromosome has on average nearly 62M nucleotides.]
  6. The Y chromosome (male sex indicator) does not recombine and is passed down intact (identical). [How often does mutation affect Y chromosome?]
  7. mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA, female lineage) has  16,569 nucleotides
  8. mtDNA has 37 genes (<448 nucleotides/gene)
  9. mtDNA is circular, while nuclear DNA (DNA from the cell nucleus) is linear
  10. mtDNA (DNA from the cytoplasm) is purely a copy of maternal mtDNA
  11. In nature only bacterial DNA is circular
  12. Mitochondrial Eve dates back to about 100K years ago
  13. Y-Chromosome Adam dates back to 60K years ago
  14. Modern humans date back to 200K years ago.

Actually I was dissatisfied by the rough figure of 30,000 genes in the human genome. Kean’s book had left me hanging with the winning pool guess of 25,947 genes (the lowest guess). But the actual number was not given.  So I had to go to Wikipedia, and on the Chromosome article I found the breakdown of the genes by chromosome and then I understood. Women have 31,731 genes and men have 30,339 genes (since the Y-chromosome of men is nearly 1400 less genes than a woman’s X-chromosome).

Stanczyk is an avid wrestler of numbers. Even though I am highly numerate, the numbers are at once boggling and also breathtaking to consider. How would I tackle the computer storage requirements of this science and the parallel processing requirements of analyzing the data. How do we go further with this data? How do you manage this data? How do you detect data errors and correct them?

Stanczyk also loved trying to construct a theory on the huge gap in years between Mitochondrial Eve and Y-Chromosome Adam. Modern humans date back to 200K years ago. Both male and female DNA has gone extinct and whole branches of modern humans’ family tree are gone. Modern humans left Africa about 100K years ago. So Y-Chromosome Adam (only 60K years ago) only dates back to the time after the human diaspora/migration began and Haplotype diversity had already begun. Since male DNA does not go back as far as the female DNA it must be something in men’s DNA or men’s nature that causes their more frequent DNA extinction. My theory is that warfare in tandem with consequences from wars (pestilence, violence, disruption of living standards, etc.) and any global natural disasters that preceded the wars or followed the wars to cause a “bottle-necking” of the human population to near extinction levels. Possibly this bottle-necking occurred a number of times over the 200,000 year history of the modern human species (before and after the human diaspora/migration out of Africa. The fact that female DNA goes further back may be explained, if they were taken as slaves/property to the victors of these wars, while the males (including male children) were eliminated thus extinguishing their male DNA Haplotypes. This demonstrates that some human DNA has been lost, since neither male nor female DNA goes back the full 200K years of modern humanity’s arrival. Ergo, some of the original ADAM/EVE DNA is now lost. We have become less diverse. This shows in comparing the diversity of HUMANS to the Great Apes (chimps/gorillas). Apparently, the DNA or behavior of the great apes is less warlike or by their lifestyle was less prone to extinction events in the past. None the less, the loss of diversity does not mean that humans are more likely to become extinct than the great apes. Indeed, our numbers and adaptability to more diverse habitats actually mean that now it is more likely that the great apes will become extinct before humans even though human DNA is less diverse, relatively speaking. The probability of humans out-surviving apes was not always so at various times over the last 200K years and could still change again.

Recommendation.

Read the Kean book. If you only have time for two chapters, then read chapter 4 and chapter 14. If you have a bit more time, also read chapter 7 too. Read the whole book. You do not need to read it sequentially, just jump in where your interest takes you. I did find reading the Introduction and the first two chapters provided me with a good starting point to jump around from. They gave me a sense of what was the author’s narrative that he was developing.

I would also recommend a quick read of  Deep Ancestry by Spencer Wells in parallel with (or before/after) reading The Violinist’s Thumb by Sean Kean.

On a lark, I also read Douglas Hofstadter’s book, Metamagical Themas. Metamagical Themas is a set of material derived from the 2.5 years that Douglas Hofstadter wrote for Scientific American (overlapping with and following after Martin Gardner (whose column Mathematical Games was anagrammed to create Hofstadter’s Metamagical Themas). In the book, Metamagical Themas, is a Chapter 27, written originally in March 1982, asking the question,  is the genetic code arbitrary (entitled, “The Genetic Code: Arbitrary?”). I found this material also extremely helpful in rounding out my knowledge of DNA. So I recommend you read all three sources:

These should whet your appetite for more and instill in you a gnawing sense of more interesting questions that still need answers.  All three sources are readable by the lay-science person or any person with an interest in science or science history.

So where did I, Stanczyk, get left at? I had read these books to learn more about evolution and science vs. religion boundaries. What I was left at is some kind of cross between those topics and a crossover with computational biology and DNA/Human Genome. Four broad topics viewed through my lenses of computers and genealogy. What an interesting Gordian Knot to unravel !

January 23, 2013

The Fourth Partition

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Duchy Of Warsaw SuperimposedA few days ago Stanczyk put forth his framework for discussing Polish genealogy, by enumerating the various eras of the many territories that had ever come under the aegis of  a Polish nation of some kind of government.  This blog tends to a focus upon “Polish” genealogy … in the greater ecumenical, greater geographic and greater ethnicity sense.  As I said, when you start upon Polish genealogy, “they” always say you need to learn about the three partitions of Poland. “They” mean the partitions imposed by the neighboring empires: Prussia, Austria, and Russia in the years, 1772,  1793, and 1795.

Over the years the phrase, “The Fourth Partition” has come to mean any annexation/occupation of Polish territories by outside nations. The years are long and getting longer still day by day. So the Fourth Partition can now be used to mean any of a good many events in history. But today I wanted to speak about Napoleon.

I have written with some fondness on the little, French, coffee drinking Emperor. What I most liked about him (besides the coffee drinking) was the suffrage and enfranchisement that he was able to bring about AND the fact that Codex Napoleon specified in detail how vital records were to be recorded and all of us genealogists benefited from his wisdom.  The Emperor had held out the hope of restoring the Polish condition, but alas, he used Poland as his pawn for his own ambitions, so Poland would languish for more than a century longer after Napoleon was ultimately defeated.

However, whilst Napoleon was having his madcap adventure upon the European continent, he inadvertently, partitioned “Poland” a fourth time. As a result of Napoleon’s early military victories, he was able to wrest wide swaths of Polish lands and fashion out a French protectorate, he named, The Duchy of Warsaw (notice he did not call it Poland). He carved this duchy out of territories on which the three Empires: Prussia, Austria, and Russia had previously partitioned three times already. So in effect, Napoleon manifested a Fourth Partition that lasted for the years 1807-1815, until the treaty of the Congress of Vienna in 1815 which broke the Duchy of Warsaw up into the Cracovian Republic and Congess Kingdom of Poland (under the hegemony of the Russian Empire). The CracovianRepublic was an independent city-state and included Krakow and some lands surrounding Krakow and this land was not returned to the Austrian Partition, called Galicia until it was folded into Austrian-Poland’s Galicia Crownland in 1846 after much upheaval in the 31 years of the CracowRepublic’s lifetime.

Stanczyk had never seen a map showing the original three partitions and then juxtaposing the Duchy of Warsaw (less the CracowRepublic) upon those areas. So I took an existing map and created a new map to see what it must have looked like. So today’s blog is about the Fourth Partition (by Napoleon) and the resulting  map. This jester would like to mention that the 8 years of the Duchy of Warsaw existence had negated the three Empires’ resolution to never have Poland reappear. Of course, after World War I Poland (2nd Republic) did reappear (and after World War II and in 1989 after throwing off the yoke of the Soviet Union, giving rise to the 3rd Republic). Enjoy the map!

January 21, 2013

Historical Eras of Poland … For Genealogists

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk has lived much history and God willing,  will live much more of it. So across the generations, you see the changing borders of Eastern / Central Europe and how it affects us genealogists (not that I am ignoring the plight of our ancestors that had to evolve with the changing landscape). From the beginning, I was always advised to learn about “The three partitions” and determine which of the three partitions my forebears came from  — good advice, but Poland’s history is a much richer tapestry than just the three partitions (zabory).

So today’s blog is about the Eras of Poland and the names I have chosen to call them going forward so that we can all “be on the same page”. Please forgive this jester as I will limit the discussion to the eras post-Piast dynasties, starting with the Polish-LithuanianCommonwealth. This roughly matches the Papal nuncios that dictated that churches must record the vital records of the parishioners. So we find the beginnings of genealogies for all peoples and not just for the magnate families or the royals.

Let me just utter the era names I wish to use going forward when I write about genealogies or histories. Let me get the mystery out of the way and also let the debates and arguments proceed. Some of these are overlapping eras, because not only are we discussing a vast span of time, but we are also talking about vast distances and a broad swath of peoples / religions / governments.

 

ERAS

ERA Name Beg. Date End Date Synonyms / Alternate Names
POLISH-LITHUANIANCOMMONWEALTH 07/01/1569 08/04/1772 RZECZPOSPOLITA, FIRSTREPUBLIC
AUSTRIAN PARTITION 08/05/1772 07/21/1807 ZABÓR AUSTRIA, GALICIA, GALICIA AND LODOMERIA, GALICJI, GALIZIEN, LODOMERIA
PRUSSIAN PARTITION 08/05/1772 07/21/1807 ZABÓR PRUSY, GRAND DUCHY OF POSEN
RUSSIAN PARTITION 08/05/1772 07/21/1807 ZABÓR ROSYJSKI
JEWISH PALE OF SETTLEMENT 01/01/1791 3/8/1921 ЧЕРТÁ́ ОСЕДЛОСТИ, CHERTA OSEDLOSTI
DUCHY OF WARSAW 07/22/1807 06/08/1815 KSIĘSTWO WARSZAWSKIE
AUSTRIAN POLAND 06/09/1815 11/10/1918 GALICIA
CONGRESS POLAND 06/09/1815 03/06/1837 KINGDOM OF POLAND, KONGRESÓWKA
PRUSSIAN POLAND 06/09/1815 11/10/1918 Bezirks: POSEN, POMMERANIA, DANZIG (GDANSK) etc.
CRACOVIANREPUBLIC 10/01/1815 12/31/1846 CRACOWREPUBLIC, RZECZPOSPOLITA KRAKÓWSKA
KINGDOM OF POLAND 03/07/1837 12/31/1866 KONGRESÓWKA, КОРОПЕВСТВО ПОПЬСКОЕ
RUSSIAN POLAND 01/01/1867 11/10/1918 КОРОПЕВСТВО ПОПЬСКОЕ,   KINGDOM OF POLAND,   VISTULALAND,   CONGRESS POLAND,   KONGRESÓWKA,   ПРИВИСЛИНСКИЙ КРАЙ,   KRAJ PRZYWIŚLAŃSKI
POLAND 11/1/1918 9/1/1939 SECONDREPUBLIC
WWII ERA 9/2/1939 12/31/1946 Occupied Poland, General Government, German Occupied, Russian Occupied
POLAND 1/1/1945 6/30/1975 Post World War II Poland
POLAND 7/1/1975 12/31/1998 1989 is commonly referred to as the start of the THIRDREPUBLIC
POLAND 1/1/1999 Present Times THIRDREPUBLIC and beyond to the present

Some of the era names are well understood and some are controversial (for a lot of reasons). First off, I wanted to make a distinction between the PARTITION era (1772-1815) which I saw as including the Napoleonic wars and ending with Napoleon’s defeat and the Treaty of Vienna.

So I separate AUSTRIAN PARTITION from AUSTRIAN POLAND. The distinction is subtle but I believe defensible. The three Partitions and the Duchy of Warsaw (French protectorate) are separate because during these times there was at least a scrap of Poland in existence (excepting for a decade proceeding Napoleon’s victories). The AUSTRIAN/PRUSSIAN/RUSSIAN POLANDs represent the slightly more than one century that Poland had “disappeared” from European maps. That century coincides with the Great Migration of Poles (including Jews) to the USA – a significant genealogical event for the Slavic Genealogist.

You will note the CracovianRepublic which gets a lesser amount of attention and eventually is folded into AUSTRIAN POLAND. Also there is the JEWISH PALE OF SETTLEMENT (more about that in a bit).

RUSSIAN POLAND is treated differently than I have seen it handled before. My ancestors come from this area, so you will have to forgive me if this appears a bit chauvinistic. I delineated the RUSSIAN occupation finely. So you see a Russian Partition followed by a Duchy of Warsaw followed by  Congress Poland ( a TSARIST hegemony) followed by the Kingdom of Poland and finally resulting in RUSSIAN POLAND. The nuances in the RUSSIAN Zabor (partition) follow the changes in administrative boundaries that so affect genealogical research. Genealogists also should take note that vitals records in RUSSIAN POLAND are written in Russian/Cyrillic and use Gregorian Calendar from late spring 1869 through the collapse of the Russian Empire near the end of World War I in 1917. So, Polish language records are found before and after that period of time. Similarly, for Latin/Hebrew languages for religious records (although you do find Latin, Hebrew and even some Polish records during 1869-1917 timeframe in some limited ways). Since the Russian language edict almost matches exactly the above RUSSIAN POLAND era, I did not create yet another era specifically for that era of Russian language. I merely note it here.

PaleOfSettlementMAPThe JEWISH PALE OF SETTLEMENT was created by the Russian Tsarina, Catherine the Great. She added to the PALE over the years as the Russian Empire acquired new lands. So as I refer to the JEWISH PALE OF SETTLEMENT, it is the 15 western Guberniya where Russian Empire Jews were forced to settle. In practice it also included the 10 Guberniya of the PolishKingdom (Congress Poland/Vistula Land). So Russian Jews had a total of 25 Guberniya where they could live (with some exclusions for large cities which were forbidden to most Jews) within the Russian Empire (European Portion). Most or all of the areas within the 25 Guberniya used to be a part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (1569-1772), so I thought it important to include the JEWISH PALE OF SETTLEMENT in order to speak of the 15 Guberniya that underlie that geographic area and that era of time (1791-1918) as well as some minor forays on my part into Jewish Genealogical research.  The 15 specific guberniya are (roughly North to South):

Kovno,  Vitebsk,  Vilna (Wilno),  Grodno,  Minsk,  Mogilev,  Volhynia,   Kiev,   Chernigov,  Poltava,  Podolia,  Bessarabia, Kherson,  Ekaterinoslav,  and  Taurida (the Crimean Penninsula)

The astute reader will note four POLAND eras. These cover the two decades between World War I and the up to the time of World War II began. It  also covers the Post World War II era. They also overlap the Second and Third Republics of Poland. Finally, the fine-grain view of Post World War II Poland is coincident with the redefinition of  Wojewodztwo (Provinces) and their underlying powiaty (counties). Again, the emphasis is in order to support genealogical research.

I have not mentioned the WWII era (World War II) yet. I need to do some specific research to see how Nazi / Soviet occupations affected the administrative jurisdictions and what impact if any that had on genealogy during the war. I leave that for some future blog(s).

No mention of religious hierarchies and their administrative boundaries have been addressed, but obviously, that too has an impact on genealogical research. The religious boundaries reflect the changes caused by changing national boundaries, but overall the religious boundaries were more stable until modern times necessitated re-arranging or closing religious areas.

OK, that is my blog and those are my eras. You may now proceed to critique my choices. But I have now defined my terms for future “Polish” genealogical blogs.  As usual, I look forward to your comments and emails.

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