2019 Polish Genealogy Conference
Lecture Summaries

Blaine Bettinger

Blaine Bettinger

Introduction to DNA

In addition to learning about Y-DNA and mtDNA, we’ll learn about the newest tool available to genealogists, autosomal DNA.  Genealogists can use these tools together with traditional research to explore their ancient ancestry, find genetic relatives, and break through brick walls.

Phasing and Mapping Your DNA

Phasing is the process of identifying what DNA you inherited from your mother, and what DNA you inherited from your father.  Learn how to phase your DNA results, and how you can use that phased DNA. We’ll also learn how to map segments of your DNA to specific ancestors using chromosome browsers and third-party tools. By testing relatives and using known matches you can map significant pieces of DNA to your genealogical family tree!

Matthew Bielawa
Jonathan Shea

Matthew Bielawa and Jonathan Shea

Introduction to Polish and Eastern European Family History

This session will expose researchers to basic research techniques needed to assemble a Polish American family history. American records such as ship lists, vital records, cemetery inscriptions and census records will be featured.

The historical geography of Poland and map and gazetteer sources will be presented. Finally the nature and structure of high use Polish language European records will be discussed as well as their location and methods to access them.  Information on websites and digitized records will also be discussed.

M.B.B. Biskupski

Dr. Mieczylaw B. B. Biskupski

Who Created Modern Poland?

Poland, one of the oldest and largest states in Europe, was destroyed at the end of the 18th century.  For over a century, there was no Poland.

But, in 1918, the country re-appeared.  How could such an extraordinary thing happen?  Is there someone who deserves credit for this development?  But, how did he re-create Poland, or had it always been there covered by the fog of history?

Daniel Bućko

Daniel Bućko

Inaccuracies, Errors and Conflicts of Information in Polish Vital Records and How to Resolve These Problems

Vital records are undoubtedly the most important documents for conducting genealogical research. Through them we are able to link to distant relatives, find forgotten family connections and merge them together. We often expect, though, that the vital records will allow us to attach any related person to our family tree in an unambiguous, logical and indisputable way. Reality turns out to be quite different. Anyone who has come into contact with old vital records, not only from Poland, knows that there are many inaccuracies, errors and conflicting information in them.

The goal of Daniel Bućko’s presentation will be to show you some examples of the most common errors, inaccuracies and conflicting information in Polish vital records, which he has observed and collected as part of his genealogical research conducted in different regions of Poland. Then he will present the reasons for these errors and inaccuracies and explain by presenting some techniques for identification.

The Genealogical Value of Royal and Government Estate Inventories

Documents that were drawn up in the royal and governmental estates are called inventories (inwentarz/inwentarze in Polish). They are some of the most valuable documents in genealogical research. They contain not only detailed descriptions of the estates, manors and villages but what is perhaps most important for us genealogists: these documents contain lists of registered residents including entire families. In the territory of present-day Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, and Ukraine before the partitions (1795), there were huge estates belonging to the Polish king. These estates can provide invaluable records and information for genealogical research – information that can detail the lives and background of ancestors who lived there – information that is not documented in any other source.

Daniel Bućko will present different types of royal and government estate inventories from different regions of Poland and show you the wealth and diversity of information they provide.

Tom Sadauskas

Thomas Sadauskas

A History of Ellis Island – Separating the Myth from Reality and What Really Happened There

From its opening in 1892 until its closure in 1954, Ellis Island served as an entry point for nearly 20 million immigrants coming to the United States.  Over time, much has been written about the immigrant experience at Ellis Island.  This presentation attempts to separate fact from fiction/urban myth.  Topics to be covered include:

  • How Immigrants Were Processed at Ellis Island
  • Were Names Really Changed at Ellis Island?
  • What the Notations on the Ship Registers Really Mean
  • How Were Arriving Immigrants Screened
  • How the Boards of  Special Inquiry Determined Who Would be Deported
  • What Records were Created and What was Destroyed or Lost
  • Steps to Take in Finding Your Ancestors’ Records in the Ellis Island Database
  • Other Ports & Points of Entry for Immigrants Coming to America

How Your Ancestors Came to America & Finding Their Records (1890 to 1950)

Every family with immigrant ancestors has stories of how their family first arrived in America.  Many of these stories contain grains of truth as well as unsubstantiated myths.  This presentation looks at the immigration process that our ancestors went through to come here to America.  Topics to be covered include:

  • Factors Causing People to Emigrate
  • What Emigrants Had to do to “Escape” or leave their countries
  • Emigration Routes and Means of Travel to the Various European Departure Ports
  • Conditions Facing Emigrants at the Departure Ports
  • Different sailing routes and Ports of Entry including Canada & Mexico
  • What Emigrants Faced at the Various Ports of Entry
  • Dispelling the Urban Myth That Names Were Really Changed at Ellis Island
  • Findings Record Sources including Those for Displaced Persons (DPs)
  • Locating Your Ancestral Village
Maureen Taylor

Maureen Taylor

Photo Detecting 101

Learn the five basic questions to ask about a photo and how to answer them. This lecture also covers researching photographers, dating costume clues and quick ID tips. Case studies are included.

Advanced Photo Detecting: Cracking the Cold Case

Photo cold cases are those picture mysteries that resist deciphering. You’ll learn how to solve
those cases by building a research plan using the research tips in this lecture. Sometimes finding the right expert is the key. We’ll discuss how to locate the right source on and off-line. Facial recognition is helpful but can also be misleading. Success stories are included.


Private coaching sessions for identifying photos with Maureen Taylor are available at the conference for $20. per photo.  Each session lasts approximately 10 minutes.  You can sign up for a session on the day of the event.  Spaces are limited. 

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