The first Polish state disappeared at the hands of Austria, Prussia, and Russia in the late eighteenth century, re-emerging after the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. As a result, the vast majority of Polish-speaking people who immigrated to the United States in the late 1800s and around the turn of the century were actually residents of one of these three countries (with Prussia becoming part of Germany after German unification in 1871).
The first immigrants, the German Poles, came to the United States in search of better economic conditions, and were shortly followed by the Austrian and then the Russian Poles. They settled throughout the American Northeast and Midwest, with the highest populations concentrated in Chicago, New York, and Pittsburgh.
When searching for Polish records overseas, make sure to check in the archives of the country which was occupying Poland at the time. In addition, be aware that many Polish towns changed names due to the different occupations.
Contacts and Sources
The Polish Genealogical Society
The Polish Historical Society
For some tips on researching abroad, see the topic All about international resources.
Return to the Main Menu of the Genealogy "How-To" Guide
|© 2011 Ancestry.com|