Archive for ‘Books’

February 27, 2014

Guide (Poradnik) for Using Metryki.GenBaza.PL — #Polish, #Archive, #Guide, #Poradnik

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk wrote about  metryki.genbaza.pl two months back and the fact they were posting online the state archives (civil) and church archives (diocese) and many people have asked me to write a guide (poradnik) on how to use  Metryki.GenBaza.pl  .

In this guide, I will be using a Macbook laptop with the Safari browser, but you should see just about the same thing with your PC or your browser. Obviously, if you are using a mobile device you user experience will be slightly different may not work if your smartphone is too small.

Œ Œ

Step By Step


Step 1

Step One

            Go to the website: Metryki.GenBaza.pl 

You should see the web site with just the GRODZISK archive shown …

01_Metryki.GenBaza_plYou will need to register for a free account in order to see of the available archives on metryki.genbaza.pl . The link to create a free account will take you back to GenPol.pl and you will need to fight your way through their poor user interface. Their interface (web app) did not indicate to me when it had created the account. But if you go back to metryki.genbaza.pl and click on the Login, you should be able to login to genbaza (using your email and your newly created password). If you are on a mobile device or a small/minimal browser window and do not see Login , then you should see a graphic button with three horizontal lines in upper right corner click on this followed by clicking on Login .

Now that you are logged in to genbaza you should see the following archives …

02_Metryki_GenBaza_pl_loggedIn

Small_2
 
Step Two — Select An Archive

            For this guide, we will be working with AD_Kielce and AP_Kielce and the parish named Biechow. From the above screen shot you can see that we will be using the 1st and the 3rd archives. So if you are following along, then click on AD_Kielce (the church archive -or- Archiwum Diocesan).

You should see …

03_Metryki_GenBaza_pl_ADKielce

Notice it gives you the feedback that you are working with the AD Kielce “Album” contents. Think of this as an iPhoto photo album. Down the left side you will see a list of all available parishes that they have scanned images for. This is NOT a complete list of all parishes in the old province (wojewodztwo or Russian Gubernia) of Kielce, but just the ones they have some subset of images from the Kielce church archive.

The blue words, Bebelno, Bejsce, Biechow … etc. are just parishes. You will need to know the parish of your ancestral village to select the appropriate parish, but that is another blog or two. Let me take one step back, I said parishes, but there are also Jewish congregations / records  too in these online images. These parishes are just sub-directories of the AD Kielce Album. If there had been an image file also, it would be listed on the right side under the Album (or sub-directory) as a set of JPG (graphic file) files that viewable in a browser.

Step 3
 
Step Three — Select A Parish (Congregation)

Let’s click on Biechow . You should see …

04_Metryki_GenBaza_pl_Biechow

You will notice that I have scrolled down a bit from the top. At the top it lets you know that you are in the Biechow Album (sub-directory). There are no files here either. But down the left we see more blue text (that are clickable). Ignore the leading number before the underscore. The middle part is a year or a year range.  The last part, when it is present, is a set of letters.

The latest birth I can get from the AD Kielce (church archive) is 1855. [see 22_1835-1855_ur]. So please excuse me while I switch over to  AP_Kielce in order to work with Biechow births (ur) for 1886.

Decoding the ‘Letters’

These letters (or suffixes if you prefer) are fairly standard (with exceptions). If you see a suffix of,  “_ur”,  that is an indication that when you click on that sub-directory you will find online scanned images of Births (urodzony). So these suffixes are Polish abbreviations for Birth (ur), Marriage (sl), Death (zg) or Alegata (al). Each describes the type images you will see. What if there is no suffix? Then you will probably see  all of the event types: Birth, Marriage, Death and possibly Alegata too.

What is an Alegata (al)? These scanned images are requests to the church for a transcription from the church book or to lookup something like a birth or death possibly or most commonly to support a person’s need to re-marry by showing that s/he is widowed. These are transcriptions copied from the actual church register, by the current pastor of a past event (birth/marriage/death). These are usually accompanied by a fee, collected via stamps on the actual page. If these are present with the other event types, then they are at the end of the images.  Alegata are almost as valuable as the actual church entry. But the alegata can substitute when you do not have the actual church register (or image) available to you.

By the way the final set of letters that I want to mention are, “_moj”. If you see “_moj” as a suffix then that directory’s scanned, online images are of Jewish denomination records. The Moj. is an abbreviation for  mojżeszowe (Mosaic denomination as in Moses),

If you are following along, then you will need to click on the following to switch to 1886 Biechow parish in AP Kielce Archive:

At the top click on “Main page” at the top, then click on AP_Kielce (on left the next page), followed by  clicking on Biechow,  and finally clicking on 1886_023. After all of those clicks you should see …

05_Metryki_GenBaza_pl_APBiechow1886

Notice the website gives you a nice trail of breadcrumbs to find your way around all of these directories.  You should see between the top level and the “Album contents”, a line of clickable text:

GenBaza | AP Kielce | Biechow | 1886_023

These are your breadcrumbs that allow you to find your way back. Keep in mind that “Main page” at the top will always bring you back to the original set of Archives to pick from.

 
 Step 4
Step Four — Working With A List of Images

            On the right side you see Album Contents: 1886_023 with a list of scanned images named like :

_k_??????.jpg — where the ?????? are replaced by some consecutive numbers. These files contain one scanned image each. Typically the set of images is a parish register, including the front and back covers, such as they may be. So in practice I seldom look at the first or the last image, because I am too busy to look at book covers.

The images are number consecutively from front cover to last cover with all the pages in between as they are. There are a few possible arrangements of pages. Typically it is Births, then Marriage, then Deaths if the particular register you are looking at has two or more event types. I also see Marriage, then Birth, then Death. Death comes last always. In some parish registers you will also see Alegata and these come after Death if they exist.  Many times Alegata are in their own directory apart from the other vital record events.

Our goal is to avoid having to look at all pages one after another. To do that we must find the indexes that follow each vital record event. For example, after the Births, you usually find a page or two (or more) of an index of all of the births for that year — hopefully in alphabetical order. Sometimes the indexes do not exist. Sometimes the indexes have errors and sometimes a mistake is found and added at the end of the index. Always seek  out the index and look at ALL index pages for your surname(s) to catch these errors.

For this exercise I am going to click on the 27th file, named: _k_088054.jpg . I knew that this file contained the birth index scanned image. It is here that I want to say a few things about working with the scanned images. So clicking on _k_088054.jpg, you should see …

06_Metryki_GenBaza_pl_APBiechow1886IndexUR_27

OK the text is in RUSSIAN/Cyrillic handwriting. Many of you cannot read this image. But some images are in Polish and a few are in Latin. So you can usually find somebody who reads these if you cannot read them yourself. But I do urge you to get the Jonathan Shea/Fred Hoffman book, “In Their Own Words” books and learn to read these church records.

In the upper left you will see two tool pallets. The top tool is for adjusting (from top to bottom):  Contrast, Brightness and Zoom. Mostly, you will not need to adjust Contrast or Brightness, but they are there for those who know how to use them to make the scanned images more readable. I do use the Zoom adjustments all of the time. The zoom tool (the bottom pick with a ‘magnifying glass’), you can zoom in (+) or zoom out (-). Depending on the scale of the image scanned and the health of your eyes, you will need to zoom in (+) 4 – 6 times to get a comfortable level of reading. Your eyes may differ.

As you zoom in, you will notice that a gray box in the preview too pallet  gets smaller.  This gray transparent rectangle is the area of image displayed in the viewer window. You can drag this gray square to quickly navigate the viewer window to area of the page I have focused on. The other method of navigating the image is to click on the image viewer, click-and-hold-and drag the image around. So whether you drag the gray box in the preview or click-drag (common called grab) the view image around make it so you can see the Russian ‘L’ and possibly Russian M on the index screen.

NOTE: You can scroll the viewer left-right and up-down, but I would not do that as you may not realize that you have NOT reached the image’s edge and that you need to click-drag some more to move the image to see the remainder of the image that scrolling cannot show you.

Now you my dear reader of this tutorial must indulge me. I want to call your attention to the 4th ‘L’ name in the image (лещунъска  виктория) — yeah, I know cursive Cyrillic does not look much like block letter Cyrillic characters, especially pre-1918 cursive Russian, which were before Bolshevik language reforms. It says, “Leszczynska Wiktorija” 118 (akt#) / 20 (Kart #). We use the Akt # as the record number in the parish register to find this record. This record is my grandmother!

Click on the 23. Do you see where it says “First photo  << 23  24  25   26  27 …  >> Last photo”? Click on the 23, which will take us 4 images before the image we are on (the gray highlighted 27 in the middle). You should see an image with a 124 in the upper left.  If you drag the image around in the viewer (or I find dragging the gray rectangle box in the preview tool) around the page you will see a total of 6 births on this page, number 124 through 129. The image looks like two pages of a parish register (book). The left page has records (akts) 124, 125, 126 and the right page has records 127, 128, 129.

We are looking for my grandmother who is act# 118. 118 is exactly 6 records before the first birth record shown on this page. Since we six births per page, my grandmother’s birth record should be the 1st record on the previous page. So let’s click on the 22 in the: “First photo  << 19  20  21   22  23 …  >> Last photo” near the top. After clicking on 22, you should see …

07_Metryki_GenBaza_pl_APBiechow1886IndexAkt118

Do you see the Akt #118 at the upper left? We have found our record. These particular birth records list the baby’s name at the top. Do you see: Leszczynska Waleryja ? Wait a minute the index said, Wiktorija??? I said before the indexes contain errors. Waleryja Leszczynska is indeed my grandmother and I knew she was born in Biechow parish in 1886,  but it was not until GenBaza put the AP_Kielce images online that I actually could prove her birth date / place.  You can imagine my joy. Now imagine what your joy will be when you find your grandparents!

Notice there is a button at the top,  “Download photo” (Pobierz zdjęcie). The last thing you need to do is download this keepsake image you found.  On a Mac when you do this the image is downloaded to your “Downloads” folder. It also brings up a Preview of the image when the download completes. Close out of of Preview. In your browser is a new tab, “Untitled” with nothing in the window. Close this tab and you will be back in the image viewer tab.  In Windows you get a new browser window (named Untitled), your downloads  window opens and the images goes into whatever Windows directory you download into (typically called Downloads). Likewise, close the Untitled browser window and return to your previous browser window. One note, on the mac the image download is TIFF by default and in Windows it is JPG. So on the Mac when your Preview comes up … click on File menu, then Export menu item and select either PNG or JPEG to get a file format that you can use on the Internet (like on Ancestry.com) for example. The Internet browsers natively work with: JPG/JPEG, GIF or PNG (or PDF too). Keep your images in one of those formats.

There is one more thing I have yet to emphasize. I was trying to teach you that you can jump around the images by doing simple math. We were on Akt# 124 (of records 124 through 129) of six records per page. If my grandmother’s akt# had been 100 (instead of 118) then I would have had to click 4 pages left of page 23 or page 19 on the line,  “First photo  << 19  20  21   22  23 …  >> Last photo”. This little math tip can save you the time of scrolling page after page. I use this tip to navigate more than 4 pages at a time too, but I will leave that exercise for the reader to figure out.

December 30, 2013

Family Legacy …

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

BooksThe Junior Classics – 1938

As a genealogist, and many of Stanczyk’s readers are genealogists, we are of course leaving a legacy in our research. As a Polish-American, I also leave cultural legacies related to Thanksgiving or 4th of July or Easter or Christmas.

But I wanted share yet another personal legacy that I am sharing. You see those colorful books at the top of the blog? They are a series of ten books by COLLIER — The Junior Classics. It was a series of hardback books filled with stories & poems across a spectrum of genres from 1938!

My parents bought me this set as a child. I was not a good bibliophile as a child and our books became gradually marred. I kept one book (orange) of poems. The picture is of a set I was able to locate via the Internet and purchase to share with the children from  Teréza & my marriage. I wanted to share my love of reading with our children as my mother & father had done for me. So a legacy of reading, learning, and exploring and also a love for bound books … as anachronistic as that may be today or in the future. Thank God that someone else had preserved such a cultural treasure from the past — these books are 75 years old! I hope my and Tereza’s kids can maintain this legacy and the act of reading stories & funny onomapoeiatic poems to their children too.

That is a legacy that connects our generations.

P.S. – kids,  my favorite volumes were #1 & #3 and because of my father and his readings, also #10 .

December 29, 2013

Auld Lang Syne – 2013 — #HappyNewYear, #Poem, #AnnualBlog

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

AllsWell

Stanczyk is republishing his annual blog post:  Auld Lang Syne

Count your blessings my dear readers and take heart in that inventory.

So as we draw to a close this elder year 2013 AD, I take but a moments pause to wish my friends and good readers well and much happiness and wishes for a healthy and prosperous New Year.—

Verily, this jester says, “All Is Well, That Ends Well“. And 2013 has indeed ended well.

Let me endebt myself further and borrow again from the great bard to close out this year. In Shakespeare’s play, “All’s Well That Ends Well”, in the first Act, the first Scene is a quote that suits me well to use though I steal it from a woman’s lips:

That I should love a bright particular star
And think to wed it, she who is so above me:
In her bright radiance and collateral light.

My bright star is my much beloved wife, Teréza !

I love her so and our growing family and our friends too. Those who love her cannot be faulted for she is such a force of a nature and a wonder to behold. And those who fault her, do not know love. Theirs is a terrible loss indeed. Pity those fools for their jealousy and praise this jester for his steadfastness in the face of such folly. Bless my wife for her devotion made stronger and more holy for her mettle that was tempered by the trifles of miscreants.

I would like to thank my readers for another fine year. Reads of the blog are up another 15%;  This month is a record month of reads and that would not be so, without you. You, my good readers, are a part of that inventory of blessings that I have counted. Interact with me on Facebook, Twitter (@Stanczyk_), and/or LinkedIn too.

Those are my closing thoughts for 2013. Better #Genealogy in the coming year to all genealogists!

Happy New Year 2014 !

–Stanczyk

September 24, 2013

The Library of Congress & PA State Library — #Genealogy, #Archives, #Libraries

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

PAStateLib_1PAStateLib_2

The Library of Congress

(LOC) has published a finding resource listing 71 links to the 50 states, online digital collections. That is found here .

The PA State Library — Has a digital collections, very similar to the digital collections found at seekingmichigan.org [Editor: also in LOC list for MI].

From Abe Lincoln, to Ben Franklin, to Coal Mining History, to WWI there are many PA treasures here:

http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/collections/8728/digital_collections_at_the_state_library_of_pennsylvania/524375

I chose to start in their WWI Collection,  which had a few choices to pick from, so I chose the top pick (Mahanoy City):

American Red Cross. Pennsylvania Chapter. Mahanoy City. In Memoriam Of Those Who, Coming from the District within the Limits of the Mahanoy City, Red Cross Chapter, Quakake to Girardville [inclusive] Made the Supreme Sacrifice in the Great War for Democracy, known as “The World War” 1917-1919. Mahanoy City, Pa., [1920]
This is a six page memorial to the fallen veterans who lived in Mahanoy City in the anthracite coal region of northeastern Pennsylvania.

http://accesspadr.org/cdm4/document.php?CISOROOT=/sstlp-wwi&CISOPTR=411&CISOSHOW=405

In truth the PA State Library’s digital collection is large enough that this jester will need to spend some time exploring, but I thought I would share my initial impression.

So LOC, a tip of the jester’s hat  to you for compiling a very useful resource of state libraries who have online digital collections. These are historical in nature, but the obvious application to genealogy make these valuable resources to the genealogical researcher too.

August 28, 2013

Twerk, Selfie, Bitcoin, Others Added To Oxford Dictionary As Silicon Valley, Middle Schoolers Push English Language Forward

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

OEDThe revered OED, that is the Oxford English Dictionary to you neophytes of the English Language, has added:

Twerk, MOOC, Bitcoin, geek chic, selfie, and so much more to the language (see Tech Crunch article: Twerk, Selfie, Bitcoin, Others Added To Oxford Dictionary As Silicon Valley Pushes English Language Forward ).

• See the complete list .

Stanczyk wants to know from the academes out there, do blogs and/or social media extend the English language into other modern languages as well as OED English?

Is the world becoming #MultiLingo ?

Will the growth of these cross-language words ever increase to such a degree that languages begin to converge or what percentage of overlap makes a language distinct (or the same)?

Email me !

March 27, 2013

A Guide for Using Szukajwarchiwach.PL Poradnik — #Polish, #Archive, #Guide, #Poradnik

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk has been writing for a while about Polish National Archives announcing via their National Digital Archive (NAC) that Poland would be putting 2.4 Million digital images of church / synagogue metric images from their regional archives online. So today’s blog post is a guide (poradnik) about how to use szukajwarchiwach.pl to view these images.

It is easiest if you know the regional archive you are interested in, but you do not need to know it really. I will demonstrate with the RZESZOW regional archive. This archive was in Austrian-Poland partition, so its records should be for those locales to Rzeszow. Recall from my post, Polish State Archives – Numbers (13 March 2013) where I listed the archive numbers, that Rzeszow = 59.

Œ Œ

Step By Step


Step_1Step One

            Go to the archive of interest - http://www.szukajwarchiwach.pl/59#tabInformacje

You should see the web site with the information for the Rzeszow regional Archive.

Rzeszow_Step_01_02

Notice the two links: Poprzednie archiwum  and Następne archiwum . With these two links you go through the list of regional archives. The list of archives only includes those archives for which they are presently loading images. If you hover over my two links above you will see ‘Previous Archive’ and ‘Next Archive’.

Step_2

Step Two

            Click on ‘Resource’ [see 2 in red circle] –  which brings you to the list of collections at Rzeszow. http://www.szukajwarchiwach.pl/59#tabZasoby

You should see …

Rzeszow_Step_02

Step_3

Step Three

 Click on Collection Number ‘59/20/0‘ for the civil records from the Roman Catholic parish of Błażowej - http://www.szukajwarchiwach.pl/59/20/0#tabZespol

You should see …

Rzeszow_Step_03

Step_4

Step Four

Click on ‘Units 20/20‘ in red circle - http://www.szukajwarchiwach.pl/59/20/0#tabJednostki

You should see …

Rzeszow_Step_04

Step_5

Step Five

Click on ‘Reference Code 59/20/0/-/1‘ in red circle - http://www.szukajwarchiwach.pl/59/20/0/-/1#tabJednostka

You should see …

Rzeszow_Step_05

Step_6

Step Six

Click on ‘Digital Copies 107‘ to see a table of 107 scanned images - http://www.szukajwarchiwach.pl/59/20/0/-/1#tabSkany

You should now see the scanned images …

Rzeszow_Step_06

There are 107 images [currently] and the data looks like it is in the Latin Box format. Since there is no index, you will have visit each image in turn and look at each row of boxes to see if that birth/baptism is for one of your ancestors.

So that is a visual guide for how you navigate the  szukajwarchiwach.pl website to get to the scanned images. Obviously, you will need to focus on the villages/parishes for your ancestor. That may be another Archive (besides Rzeszow) or if it is in the Rzeszow archive then you need to pay closer attention to the parishes in the Rzeszow collections and finally, you will need to select Birth/Marriage/Death (Urodziny/Małżeństwo/Zgony) for the year of interest to you.

You will still need to be able to deal with Latin or Polish or Russian or German language in the records to understand what you see in the scanned images. You will also need to be able to read the handwriting. But you can do this!

Good Luck!

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
  • 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 !

December 30, 2012

Auld Lang Syne – 2012

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

AllsWellSo as we draw to a close this elder year 2012 AD, I take but a moments pause to wish my friends and good readers well and much happiness and wishes for a healthy and prosperous New Year.

Verily, this jester says, “All Is Well, That Ends Well“. And 2012 has indeed ended well.

Let me endebt myself further and borrow again from the great bard to close out this year. In Shakespeare’s play, “All’s Well That Ends Well”, in the first Act, the first Scene is a quote that suits me well to use though I steal it from a woman’s lips:

That I should love a bright particular star
And think to wed it, she who is so above me:
In her bright radiance and collateral light.

My bright star is my much beloved wife, Teréza !

I love her so. Those who love her cannot be faulted for she is such a force of a nature and a wonder to behold. And those who fault her, do not know love. Theirs is a terrible loss indeed. Pity those fools for their jealousy and praise this jester for his steadfastness in the face of such folly. Bless my wife for her devotion made stronger and more holy for her mettle that was tempered by the trifles of miscreants.

That’s my closing thoughts for 2012. Better Genealogy in the coming year to all genealogists!

Happy New Year 2013 !

–Stanczyk

September 10, 2012

A Troika of Dystopia Tales … — #Books, #Literature, #Bibliophile

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk is an unabashed bibliophile. Perhaps I am a bibliophage — bookworm. I certainly devour books — although my wife’s voracious appetite for books puts me to shame. Today’s meme is dystopian thoughts.

A few weeks back (August 15th) I wrote about Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand),  a dystopian sci-fi novel (which I was not enamored of, literately but has clearly has been a sales success). It has a movie coming out soon. I’ll pass on that too.

I am looking forward to Jack Kerouac’s “On The Road“, dystopian travelogue or dystopian Beat Generation screed upon a scroll movie. Despite, its appalling morality tale stories it was an enthralling novel and to think it was written in just three weeks! I bought its 50th anniversary scroll edition in 2007 and read it in almost a single uninterrupted session — somehow I was channeling Jack’s manic writing pace.

What appealed to me about “On The Road“, was its parallel to Hemingway. Here we have some bohemian types dealing with post-World-War-II issues. This was much the same way as Hemingway and his Paris bohêmes dealt with the post-World-War-I issues. So I read it in that context. This movie too will be out this fall — I cannot wait to see it!

But it is 2012 and we now have a new dystopian sci-fi work that needs consideration. This book too, took three weeks to write. But its author despised it, in spite of its success. The work was “A Clockwork Orange” by Anthony Burgess. Well it is now the 50th anniversary of that novel’s publishing too. As a young man I was enthralled with the Nadsat (English-Russian) argot spoken by the protagonists again while appalled by the violence. I think Hollywood needs to remake this classic too. Hollywood, knock-knock, pick a director with a Slavic sensibility to capture Euro-Ruso trashy-ness of the mood. I did not care much for Stanley Kubrick’s version.

So this my Monday, Troika of Dystopia re-cast into 2012 … Hmmmm is it a coincidence that this is an election year? This election a bit dystopian too, n’est-ce pas?

Send me some Oomny messel in an email OK?

December 1, 2011

A Little Bit of Blog Bigos … #Genealogy, #History, #Birds, #Books

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Bigos – A stew, hunter’s stew rich with meats, mushrooms, sauerkraut and dried fruits.

So today my blog bigos is made up of a slew of blurbs …

From  The News.PL, a couple of days ago, they wrote about historians that uncovered a previously unknown memoir by one of the victims of a notorious WW II Nazi operation against Polish intelligentsia (called Sonderaktion Krakau of November 1939).

One of the principals, Zygmunt Starachowicz, kept a memoir of the experience with:

  • Interesting Profiles of the detainees
  • How he was a law graduate signing documents at Jagiellonian University when he was arrested with 182 academics
  • How 20 of the 183 people died in captivity
  • A memoir penned in 1941, that lay in unopened envelope for 70 years

Sadly, Zygmunt died in 1944 after being arrested by the Nazis in July 1944 [probably as a result of his activities as a member of the underground, leading clandestine lectures in law and history, and forging documents for the official “Home Army” (AK)].

November 25, 2011

Books, eBooks, and More Books – Bibliophiles/Bibliophages Beware !!! #Books

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk is very old … My portrait by Jan Matejko dates back to 1862 alone. So perhaps you can forgive me if I blog about an antiquarian notion today … BOOKS. First off, I hope everyone had a Blessed and Family/Food Filled Thanksgiving Holiday (4th Thursday in November in the USA).

As I was saying I want to write about books today. I provided a handy photo for the reference of my younger readers who may need a refresher on the concept. Before you run off … Here’s my list:

No Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble today, although they are worthy purveyors — nor will I speak of Antiquarian Books, though I reserve that topic for another day.

Google Books (books.google.com/books) – I adore to find public domain books or snippets of books under copyright that I can search and perhaps get at least a snippet view of my search topic. Google now lets you keep the public domain books on their “Cloud” (no space on your hard disk). At present, my Google eBooks include:

Historya Polska w Ameryce by Wacław Kruszka. So you can find resources that are valuable to your genealogical or history research. Although you cannot download them to your iPhone, it is still portable since it is in the “Cloud” (enough with that Internet meme). So as long you can surf the web with your iPhone (or other smartphone) your genealogical resources are portable.
Google Books will also help you locate the book in a local library (or the closest library) or help you locate it via their cadre of booksellers in case you still need that tactile sense of holding a book or where an eBook is not an option.
They also have magazines too! Feel free to browse (get some good Sumatra coffee ready).
 
The Internet Archive (http://www.archive.org/details/texts) is more than just books. It also about the Web, Moving Images, Texts (books), and Audio. All intriguing in their own right. In fact, the Web portion has the infamous Wayback Machine for viewing websites as they used to be. As I read somewhere this month, the average website changes about every 28 days. Obviously, blogs skew that average. So in a sense, the Wayback Machine backs up the Internet or should I say the “Cloud”. Oops, I did promise to stop dropping that meme today. But books are what we are about today. Obviously, they get their books from Libraries and also Project Gutenberg. Also it should be obvious that these are public domain books. They store each book in a variety of formats (HTML, PDF, and various ebook formats). So you can download a book to your laptop and import that into your iBooks App (or whatever smartphone App you use) for true portability. Classics .. check, Genealogy/History .. check, Children’s Books .. double check, and Foreign Language Books too. What eBooks are on your smartphone? Perhaps we should ask that question to the famous (instead of what music is on your iPhone). Don’t be embarrassed .. go to the Internet Archive or the Next Topic (Project Gutenberg).
 
Project Gutenberg – has been around a long time. But it has taken eBook formats, eBook readers and smartphones to bring this valuable resource to major relevance. I daresay that most smartphone Apps that have free books, probably use this website. Project Gutenberg has 36,000 books to download. Skip those Apps, use the free iBooks App that came with your iPhone, Project Gutenberg to locate the books YOU care about, download the eBook format (epub or pdf work), import the book into iTunes, find some book cover art, and synch the whole package to your iPhone/iPad for true portability and reading on the beach or in that research archive or at the museum or that archaeology dig you have been promising yourself.
 
LibraryThing (www.librarything.com) -  You must be a bibliophile or bibliophage or why else are you reading this post. Well here is a website that is a bit different. LibraryThing will allow you to upload your library (200 books for free). Now you are not uploading books, but the data about the books or possibly its cover. You can enter the data or specify the ISBN and allow the website to locate the metadata that describes the book in your collection. If that is all it did, it would be mostly useful to libraries and librarians — which it is useful for and they provide a way to bulk load their entire catalogs. But it is a kind of social-network for bibliophiles or for authors trying to sell books to readers of their genre. I like the Zeitgeist feature for understanding what is out there. I also like to compare my books to others and wonder about what others users whose books overlap with my book collection are like and what that says about me. There are also book groups and local ties to bookstores, libraries, museums and other book events. There are so many ways to use this website collaboratively.  Take a peak.
 
Enjoy the books and the other book readers too!
November 14, 2011

#ThingsIFind Whilst Looking Up Other Things … Polish Libraries in the USA

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

In one of Stanczyk’s continuing memes, Things I Find Whilst Looking Up Other Things, I was combing the Internet and was rifling through Polish Genealogical Societies. I hopped from the PGSA.org to PGSNYS.org (Polish Genealogical Society of New York State), when they mentioned, The Adam Mickiewicz Library and Dramatic Circle. Apparently, they had a Reopening of their Library on September 17, 2011. The library is located at: 612 Fillmore Ave, Buffalo, New York 14212.

That got this jester to thinking, so here is my list of Polish Libraries in the USA:

Does anyone else know of any other Polish libraries that I need to add to this list? If so, please email me.

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.

October 19, 2011

#Polish #National #Heritage Month – Continuing … James Michener “Poland”

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

James Michner's Poland 1st EditionWe always salute the famous historical heroic figures like Pulaski or Kosciusko or possibly scientists like Madame Skladowska Curie and Mikolaj Copernicus or maybe a musician like Fryderyk Chopin. But I do not want this month to go by without a listing of the literary talents and the artistic talents.

Polish Literature is richly nuanced and uniquely Slavic. If you have read this blog for a while, you will have seen a mention of Stanislaw Lem or Czeslaw Milosz and a few others. There are so many to choose from: Mikolaj Rej, Jan Kochanowski, Adam Mickiewicz, Juliusz Slowacki, Henryk Sienkiewicz, Stanislaw Wyspianski, Wladyslaw Reymont,  Stanislaw Witkiewicz, Wisława Szymborska or Slawomir Mrozek. For more information, please click on “Polish Literature” or my favorite website for Polish Lit: Staropolska .

Today’s article is on James Michener’s “Poland“. Michener may not be Polish (he never knew who his biological parents were), but he is another of those great local literary talents of my adopted hometown of Philadelphia. This book is a historic novel with some fictional literary devices utilized to stitch together a coherent  narrative around ten historical topics of Poland. These ten episodic chapters can be read straight through or sampled individually.

If you only read one chapter this month,  of this easy reading novel, then read chapter five (on Jan Sobieski and his heroic salvation of Europe at the Battle of Vienna).

They probably sung a hymn / poem from the early 14th century, called Bogurodzica (Mother of God) which is the oldest poem in the Polish Language. You can hear this fascinating hymn here . This poem has no Latin equivalent, so it roots are entirely Slavic.

By the way, you may want to read Czeslaw Milosz’s book, “The History of Polish Literature” for more background on today’s article, including Bogurodzica.

Tomorrow … A Selection of Artists.

– Stanczyk

P. S.

You may want to read Donna Pointkouski’s Top Ten More Ways To Celebrate Polish Heritage Month  for more ideas on this month of ours.

September 21, 2011

Smithsonian Institution Libraries – Books, Images Online

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Brown Tree Duck

Being a jester brings with it a lot of name calling and chief among them is “bird-brain” — which Stanczyk has taken to heart.

A Number of times, I have written about the Smithsonian Libraries & Museums or the Library of Congress. These treasures of America should be enjoyed  and are provided for the diffusion of information. Every American should make a pilgrimage to Washington D.C. and see the statues and museums — taking care not to wander too close to politicians lest you contract a serious case of lunacy.

I have lived in the Village of Audubon, the hometown of the Franco-American Naturalist, John James Audubon. My connection to my genealogy is a fascinating one. Many of the persons from my grandparent’s ancestral villages have Bird Names! Names like: Czapla, Dudek, Kruk, łuszcz, Orzeł{owski}, Ptak, Siewki(Siwiec), Sroka, Skowronek, Sokol(owski),   Szczygieł,  Wrobel, Zięba, żuraw(ski), (and even Włecial=flew) etc. Now one thing had nothing to do with the other; It was just a weird juxtaposition of my life. To couple these two things with my obsession with ducks and yea verily all manner of water fowl — well you get today’s posting. Maybe birds really are in my DNA (in more ways than one).

Actually, today’s posting came from my iGoogle page (Genealogy & Libraries). I have hooked the Smithsonian Libraries blog into the iGoogle page. Today they blogged about their Gallery of Images. Now I thought this was going to be another mention of their flickr pages. But I was wrong. WARNING: do not go to the Gallery of Images if you suffer from ADD. You can easily become lost in the SIL efforts to bring these images and their information online.

The picture at the top is not from Audubon’s Birds of North America, but it is from “The Birds of North America” by Spencer Fullerton Baird, published in 1860 (Philadelphia).

[click on read more to Polish-English Bord List]                                  

August 24, 2011

#Polonia – October is Polish History Month – This Year We Celebrate …

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk notes we are six weeks from the start a whole lot of Polish Celebration. First off,  October is Polish History Month in the USA.

Next,  the second Monday in October is the Polish-Portuguese-Italian-American holiday we usually note as COLUMBUS DAY (traditionally October 12th). This year, thanks the Portuguese Historian Manuel Rosa, who has spent 20 years researching Columbus and who determined that Columbus is the son of Wladyslaw III, grandson of Wladyslaw II Jagiełło,  ( see prior article here ), we need to take our Polish Flags out on Columbus Day to the parade and celebrate with the Italian-Americans and reclaim our Polish son (or at least our share). Since Wladyslaw II Jagiełło is the first King of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, perhaps our Lithuanian brothers need to bring their flags too.

Third, the very next day in 2011 (October 12) is Casimir Pulaski Memorial Day. A Heroic Soldier of the American Revolutionary War who died for the founding of America (at the siege of Savannah).

Here is a link to Poland’s History.   Columbus Book by Rosa. Dr Rosa, when is the English Language Edition Coming (Polish Edition)?

Do Not Forget Columbus Day, Polonia  — bring the Polish Flag!

August 14, 2011

#Polish #Genealogy – Haller’s Army (aka Blue Army / Polish Army in France) [part 2]

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Gentle readers, today’s article is about the many genealogical or personal ties to the history of Haller’s Army. The focus is on what the genealogist may want to pursue to flesh out his/her family tree.

Background

The era was World War I  (1914-1918) and the world was mad with war and carnage and pestilence. There were 16.5 million deaths and 21 million wounded making it the 6th deadliest conflict (or possibly 2nd/3rd worse if you include the Flu Pandemic deaths). [See: this cheery web page on the estimate of Wars, Pandemics, Disasters,  and Genocides that caused the greatest number of deaths.] Out of this madness, was an army of diaspora Poles formed, of which over 25,0001

came from the US via a US sanctioned formation of a foreign force, which had to be constituted in Canada due to USA fears and its isolationist policies that limited President Wilson.

These brave 25,000 men were added to another contingent of 35,000 Polish men formed largely from prisoners of war from the German and Austria-Hungarian armies inside France,  who were now willing to fight against Central Powers as a part of the Allied/Central Powers.  They fought bravely in World War I,  before the USA entered the war and for nearly four more years (1918-1922) after World War I officially ended in the Polish-Bolshevik War (aka Polish-Soviet War).

Poster — from wiki

More Background can be found here (Haller’s Army website) or at the wiki page (Blue Army).

Registration Centers

The recruitment centers were in the Polish Falcons centers. The Polish Falcons were called the Związek Sokołów Polskich w Ameryce (ZSP)  and this is what you will find on Haller’s Army enlistment forms. The Polish Falcons still exist and are headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA. There are reportedly 115 Polish Falcon Nests across 15 states. Each Nest has its own history that it maintains.

PGSA Database

The Polish Genealogical Society of America (PGSA.org) maintains a database of the Haller’s Army registrations that can be searched for your ancestor(s). It is free to search and there is a modest charge to get a copy of the actual documents. The search page is here: (http://www.pgsa.org/haller.php) . These documents are archived by the Polish Museum of America in Chicago. This data is also on LDS Microfilm by region see this page for details .

There are three types of forms. These forms are in Polish. You need not worry about that as the PGSA offers example forms in English (FormA | FormC) in PDF format.  On the forms you find the following info:

  • Form A is an intention to volunteer and contains the name, address, age, and marital status.
  • Form B is a medical examination report for the volunteer.
  • Form C is the final commitment paper. It includes date and place of birth and usually the name and address of a parent or other close relative.  The Form’s family notes include close family in USA and in Poland.

Returning Soldiers

The Allies issued medals to their victorious soldiers so you may have in your family heirlooms one of these. This website has an index of the various medals (with images). Many of the websites whose links are in this article also have pictures of men in uniforms — which included their distinctive hats.

We tend to think the soldiers were all Polish men and that these men were Catholics, but our Polish-Jewish brethren also served in Haller’s Army. This page from Polish Roots is about the Jewish soldiers who served and provides a table of many of the men known to be Jewish.

The ship manifests in Ellis Island record the return Haller’s Army soldiers, who returned en masse. You can see the soldiers who are listed on pages together with a note on the bottom, “Reservists”. That notation should eliminate any confusion with other possible passengers/crew members. The soldiers returning from the European theater are known to have arrived via Ellis Island on the following ships:

  • SS Antigone (from Danzig – April 18, 1920)
  • SS Princess Matoika (from Danzig – May 23, 1920)
  • SS Pocahontas (from Danzig – June 16, 1920)
  • SAT  Mercury (US Army Transport), from Danzig, June 16, 1920 / arrived in New York, June 28 1920
  • SS President Grant (from Danzig) – February 16, 1921
  • SS Latvia  - August 17, 1922

 Links to the Ship Manifests

http://bit.ly/rlVaaQ  SS Princess Matoika from Danzig in 1920 [more dates than shown above] 4253 Returning Troops

http://bit.ly/p3ViM2 SS Pocahontas from Danzig  in 1920 [please note the ship name is P-O-C-A-H-O-N-T-A-S. It was misspelled on the PGSA.org website].   4199 Returning Troops

http://bit.ly/nwYwsx SAT Mercury from Danzig June 1920.  2074 Returning Troops

http://bit.ly/n6YRot SS Antigone from Danzig April 1920. 1628 Returning Troops

http://goo.gl/F48dg5 SS President Grant from Danzig February1921. ~1900 Returning Troops3

http://bit.ly/pGwQa5 SS Latvia from Danzig  August 1922. 1517 Returning Troops

Returning passage – Payment of passage was split between the Polish and United States Governments. [see column 16] on ship manifest. It appears some soldiers returned with wives and children too [so those numbers above are not all soldiers].

One more connection. Similar to  the VFW for US veterans, there is a Polish-American organization in NYC called POLISH ARMY VETERANS ASSOCIATION2

They (PAVA  or SWAP) have genealogical data from their membership forms. According to Dr Valasek, the membership application for the association has the usual, date, place of birth, current address, and occupation; It also had something most descendants of Hallerczycy desperately want to know:  the unit in which the man fought, and his rank upon leaving the army. There is also the identification of which post the soldier joined.  Each post has its own history, as well as photos, banquet books, anniversary booklets, etc. All valuable adjuncts to your research once you identify the correct post, (or, as it’s known in Polish, placówka). There is also a question on the form, Do jakich organizacji należy? , to what organizations does he belong. More avenues for research.

Fallen Soldiers

In any war, there are casualties. Haller’s Army is no different. Stanczyk likes this Polish Genealogical Society (http://genealodzy.pl/name-Straty.phtml) named aptly, The Polish Genealogical Society. They have many databases, but they have search front-ends for two related to Haller’s Army. The one from the link above is for:  List of Casualties of the Polish Army, killed in action or died from wounds from the years 1918-1920.

With this link I was finally able to determine that one of my ancestors who was in America up through the 1910 census, but was missing from the 1920/1930 censuses, whom I had previously thought had returned to Poland — had really died while serving in Haller’s Army. I found his Haller’s Army Forms at PGSA and then from this Polish website I found a scanned image of a Polish book listing his name, date/place of death.

Soldier Benefits

Some soldiers who came to America who served in Haller’s Army, earned benefits from the new Polish nation. I have seen land grants awarded (not to my ancestors). They often had to be contacted through the Polish Consulates in America. This leads to my final recommendation — using Historical Polish Language Newspapers from that era to find out about your soldier. The newspaper may write about the returning units in a story and possibly a picture. I have also seen that the Polish Consulate took out listings in the newspaper and referred to Haller’s Army veterans they were seeking to inform them of their veteran benefits. See my Dziennik Polski (Detroit) page at the top menu-tabs for an example what these Polish Consulate ads might look like.

Let me finish today’s article by mentioning Dr. Paul S. Valasek’s book on the subject matter: Haller’s Polish Army in France http://www.amazon.com/Hallers-Polish-Army-France-Valasek/dp/0977975703 and also another book entitled: Remembrance http://www.hallersarmy.com/store/Remembrance.php. written by Charles Casimer Krawczyk.

Tomorrow … Haller’s Army in My Family Tree

–Stanczyk

Notes:

1=Polish Falcons History page . Paul Valasek says the number is above 24,000. The wikipedia says the number is 23,000.

2=PAVA,   address: 119 East 15th Street,  New York,  NY 10003   -   e-mail:  <info@pava-swap.org>,  telephone:  212-358-0306

3= The addition of the President Grant came about from a Newspaper Article mentioned by Daniel Wolinski. A picture of the article has been appended after these notes.

FortDixNJ_HallersArmy_Returnees_1921

July 25, 2011

Church Metrical Books … Embellishments, Oddities, and Notations #1

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Welcome to a new Monday and a new meme.

In the year 1647, some 364 years ago in some Polish parish somewhere,  was a priest with some free time at the end of the year  1646 or the beginning of 1647 and of course a good bit of artistic talent.

Stanczyk laughs at the priest’s macabre sense of whimsy. Forgive me that I forgot last year to capture the note of where I found this “artwork”. I am sure it was in a Digital Library or Archive and not from some microfilm I was viewing (see the red border).

Here in the USA, we have had a long tradition of viewing the New Year as a baby and the Old Year as an old man (usually with a long beard). But skeletons, one of which holds the Grim Reapers scythe??? Of course, I approve the use of an hourglass as a metaphor for the passage of time. Such embellishments and details. Perhaps he was reminiscing the old year’s (1646) significant passings :

At any rate, as I was reviewing my collection of digital pics from Church Books, it occurred to me that I have a new repeating meme: Embellishments, Oddities, and Notations found in Church Metrical Books.

I foresee discussing priestly entries (if I can find them,) such a notation about a meteorite that struck in the local parish. I also will include examples of marginalia or possibly end of year notations that a priest makes — one of which affects my family tree.

Meanwhile … it is time for some hot coffee.  Talk to you later (God Willing) …

Stanczyk

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