Archive for January 21st, 2013

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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