The Polish Genealogical Society of America
For those with Polish ancestors, there is no better place to begin your research than the Polish Genealogical Society of America (PGSA). The society was founded in 1978 and is based in Chicago. They are completely dedicated to the preservation and sharing of Polish and Polish-American ancestral history, and in helping its members to apply that information in their research. If you are researching ancestors from the old Commonwealth of Poland, the society has a plethora of books, bulletins, newsletters, workshops, and a variety of printed information that can help. This is a genuine genealogical society that perpetuates a genealogical attitude of sharing resources, leads, and communication among members.
Although the society provides information to help with research, they hold no repositories of records other than the ones published in their own books and periodicals, and in the databases of their members. The staff are all volunteers who are not able to research for you, but are only too happy to assist with pointing you in the right direction or pairing you with someone who can. Keep in mind that the society has no permanent address; they use the main offices of the Polish Roman Catholic Union of America as their mailing address and telephone contact point. There are PGSA volunteers available one day per week to answer phone calls and enquiries. The best way to contact them is via post or email.
The Rodziny is the quarterly publication produced by the PGSA. It provides a wealth of information designed to help those researching their Polish ancestors. There is an extensive amount of material covered in the publication, but its emphasis is on items not usually available to researchers and well written and researched articles. Some of those items include:
- Translations of rare materials by European experts
- An information Exchange where members can post inquiries and have them answered for free by other members or volunteers
- Book reviews on important polish genealogical publications and tips on how to get the most out of them
- Articles on specific Polish research related subjects written by professional and expert amateur genealogists
Additionally the society hosts translated historical documents on their website. One section I found most interesting and could have spent hours reading was the one regarding Polish life in the late 1800’s. There is also a searchable database of Polish troops who served in France during WWI and many links to other databases and important resources for Polish genealogical research.
The PGSA also has an online store which is used to support the efforts of the volunteers. Some of what you can purchase online from them is:
- Books and CD’s
- Research Services
- Obituary Indexes
- Military Record Indexes
- Insurance Records Index
- Instructions on Requesting Polish Records From Specific Towns
The web page of the PGSA is well maintained and updated on a regular basis. You can find information on events, workshops, research advice and instruction, Polish history, heraldry, Polish culture, and there are even some Polish songs if you’re feeling especially celebratory! The PSGA is closely affiliated with The Polish Museum of America Library, also in Chicago, which houses over 60,000 books of Polish interest, including genealogical research and reference materials. If you’d like to join the PSGA, you can fill out their online membership application.