New Book – Find Your Czech and Slovak Ancestors

I’ve been busy this fall writing. I just published a new genealogy book for Czech and Slovak Genealogy Research.

This book is designed to give the researcher the tools needed to research their Czech and Slovak ancestors and find possible answers to the origins of your heritage. The book outlines a simple process that will identify where your ancestors were born and where to find their records. The book lists many up-to-date sources of information that will add to your family history; identify where your ancestors were born and where to find their Czech and Slovak records. Traditional sources are covered but it also discusses many new and exciting sources for records. The book includes many sample documents and tips that should prove useful for both the beginner and the veteran genealogist. The information in this book covers the most up-to-date collection of sources for Czech and Slovak genealogy and should prove to be invaluable when doing your research. This book is for people with roots in Bohemia (Czech), Slovakia, Moravia, or Silesia who feel the need to develop, preserve and share the genealogical, historical and cultural knowledge of their ancestors.

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NEW BOOK – My Polish Grandmother: from Tragedy in Poland to her Rose Garden in America

This book is about my grandmother. When researching her life, I found she endured many challenges that made her the strong person that I admired as I grew up around her. In writing my grandmother’s story, I wanted to go beyond the names, dates, and pictures in the photo albums. She was more than that. It is very important to ask why she did what she did.

This book asks questions about her fears when growing up, immigrating to America, and making her new life. How did she face these fears? How did she overcome them? Although I found no answers, I still found new insights about my grandmother.

Our ancestors were part of the wave of emigration that left Europe with the hope of finding work and a better life. It was not easy to immigrate to America. Our ancestors saw immigration to America as their last chance. They had to overcome obstacles getting from their village to the ships and hardships crossing the Atlantic. Then they had to prove they were worthy to be admitted to the United States. Once here, they faced challenges and discrimination to find work and make the better life they were seeking. My grandmother’s story is different because I tried to show how immigration was different for women.

Remember our ancestors made many sacrifices for us and helped build the United States. They could not appreciate what they were doing because they were working hard and surviving each day. However, what they did each day was important. I believe that our role should be to leave something that will help our children remember them. We need to capture the memories by writing our family history. This story is my attempt to preserve my grandmother’s memory.

Future Problems with Publishing my Family Histories

For the past few years I have used Createspace.com to published family histories that have been well-received by my family. These are self-published, print-on-demand, economical and private. Amazon is changing and my perfect solution for sharing my family histories just got harder to do.

Amazon owns Createspace.com for their print-on-demand books. They also own Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) which they used to publish eBooks. Today, they announced that Createspace.com production is being moved to Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). I also got a second email that informed me that all of my print books would have to be made available on Amazon. This second emailed makes it almost impossible to keep my family histories private and limited distribution to my family members. On Createspace.com I could deselect all channels of distribution which meant only I could order my family history books. This kept non-family members from order the books but now this option will disappear when all of my books are transferred to KDP.

I still recommend organizing our genealogy research into summaries and then into large Word documents. This allows me to be more efficient when doing research, makes it easier to share information with family members, and will probably be saved by family members. However, publishing in book form will increase the chances that it will be saved for future generations.

Amazon is just beginning to implement change and many details are not available. Hopefully, they will allow some way to allow for some books to be private.

Because publishing my family histories for family members is very important, I will continue to look for platforms to do this. Stay tuned for future developments.

Meaning of Genealogy

Genealogy is defined in the dictionary as the study of family histories. Genealogical researchers begin by collecting records and documents for their ancestors. This step is the easy part of genealogy. However, many researchers never get beyond this initial step.

As I began compiling the information for my ancestors, I realized that family histories are more than piles of documents and charts with names and dates. Our family histories are made up of the stories that can be found in the oral histories, the pictures and the documents. I found that I became more excited about my ancestors as I discovered that the pattern in the information. I also discovered that my initial view of my family changed quickly as the information and stories flowed from the documents. As more information was found, my family history gave me a greater closeness to my ancestors and their lives.

Identifying who, what and where that were represented in family photo albums will pass along the memories that my ancestors tried to capture in these photos. Interpreting the facts shown on the various documents and explaining their relationship in the lives of my ancestors brought my pages to life. This was important because only a few people enjoy doing the research but most family members enjoy reading the stories. Our task is to find a way to save our family history in a format that can be enjoyed by most family members.

You may find it hard to believe that your family history is important to save. You should consider that all of our immigrant ancestors contributed to America’s history and their stories should be saved for our grandchildren. The farmers and the factory workers contributed their efforts to the growth of America alongside all of the names listed in the history books. Our family histories should give clues of their roles and this will help us understand our roots.

Start now to write a family history. Do not procrastinate. I also find it difficult to write. However, I got past my fear of writing by compiling the information into summaries for each ancestor that I was researching.

Don’t be afraid to begin. Concentrate on finding one story and then another by doing the research. Finding the small pieces will make the task easier and will be fun. Eventually, the small pieces will begin to fit together like a jig-saw puzzle and as the pieces are added the overall story that is your family history will eventually appear.

A family history can be a great treasure to you, your family and future generations. It can help us understand our heritage both here in the U.S. and where our ancestors came from. It lets us gain knowledge and appreciation for our ancestors and their lives.

Do it now!

 

 

Naturalization of Our Ancestors: establishing our roots in America

The naturalization of our ancestors establishes our family roots in America. They were part of the wave of emigration that left Europe with the hope of finding work and a better life. They saw immigration to America as their last chance.

Our lives would be much different if they did not endure the challenges of immigration to America. Do not underestimate their contributions. They may have left us some material wealth, but the most important contribution they left is their family and their role in the factories and farms of the United States. Their lives were building blocks in the growth of their new country. Remember that they made many sacrifices for us and their daily work helped build the United States.

I believe that our role should be to leave something that will help our children remember them.

Research and record the details of their journey to arrival and naturalization. It is an important part of your heritage. Capture the memories by writing your family history. If not you, who will do it?

Understanding our Ancestors May Help Us Understand Ourselves

Understanding our ancestors may help us understand who we are.  To gain this understanding, our genealogy research should go beyond the names, dates, family trees, and documents that are standard talking points in genealogy discussions. Review the facts and events that you find about your ancestors and ask Why? How? Where? When? You may not find the answers, but exploring their options may give you a better insight into the character of your ancestors. Review carefully the challenges that your ancestors faced and how it may have affected them.  Remember that some points of their character may have filtered down to you through the generations.

 For my grandmother, I tried to envision her early days in Poland. I sought accounts of what happened around her village during World War I. What fears and challenges did she face during her immigration to America. What did she find after she arrived to live with her brother? How did she react and overcome the challenge of an arranged marriage and making a new life in America in a town where she knew no one.

 My grandmother had a significant influence on me. When I was able to relate the challenges in her life to the points of character that I saw in her, I was able to understand how her accomplishments had silently influenced my character.

 Try this process for one of your ancestors and you may be amazed by what happens.

Social History and our Ancestors

Social history is defined as the study of our everyday lives and was an important part of the lives of our ancestors. We may think of our ancestors as unique individuals but, they were usually part of groups that reacted to the economic and political pressures that surrounded them. Researching the historical context in which our ancestors lived will add a historical background that may help answer questions and explain behaviors. Common elements in the daily lives of that can be researched include their residence, occupation, religion, local politics, local economy, family migration, military experiences and social status. Including this information and events could add important insights into our ancestors’ lives and help portray them as real people and not just names on a chart.

When adding social history as a background for your ancestors be sure to mention your sources and draw your conclusions after presenting evidence that leads to those conclusions. Be careful not to fictionalize their lives by forcing their lives into events that they did not take part. Avoid inserting famous historical events that are not relevant to your family history.

 I have used many sources for the social history that I have added to my histories. I used general history books and many other books that I found at my local library.  I also used the internet to find various articles and books about various topics such as the journey that immigrants endured. Other sources that may give historical references that can be used in our histories may be found in letters and diaries, favorite recipes and notes in cookbooks, biographies, histories of urban ethnic neighborhoods and county histories.

Social history has brought more life to my ancestors. However, as a general rule, I try to add as much social history as I can but these events must affect the lives of my ancestors. As an example, a brief history of the railroad shops in Bloomington, Illinois will help explain why my family was in Bloomington seeking jobs. However, explaining the workings of all of the various departments in the shops is overkill.

As I stated earlier, our genealogy research should be more than collecting documents. Your genealogy research can generate a family history that will be a wonderful treasure for many future generations of your family.