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Poznan/Posen Marriage Records Indexing

The goal of the POZNAN PROJECT is to create a database comprising the most important information extracted from the 19th century Catholic and Lutheran marriage records of the Province of Poznan (Posen). The searchable database will be publicly available at the PolishRoots server. We still need many volunteers to join this effort and index data from parishes!

 

BACKGROUND   -   AREA & TIME FRAME   -   WHAT & HOW TO INDEX   -   FAQ

 

FIRST RESULTS

The test version of the database including data so far acquired for a number of parishes (both Catholic and Lutheran) is already available!

BACKGROUND

 

As it is commonly known, immigrants from the then-Prussian (now Polish) province of Poznan (Posen in German) typically declared just 'Posen' as their place of origin. All too often this leads their descendants into believing that they were referring to the city of Posen/Poznan. In fact, their home could have been any place within the larger province. Thus, numerous families no longer know the actual place of origin of their ancestors - and their surname alone is rarely a sufficient hint.

 

Researchers have tried various strategies to pinpoint the actual town or parish of origin of their ancestors. Examining the lengthy records of parish after parish is like seeking a 'needle in a haystack', yielding a low rate of success for those willing to attempt it while discouraging others from even trying. The objective of the POZNAN PROJECT is to provide researchers with a means of locating that needle in a haystack by indexing all recorded marriages from the entire 'Posen' territory. When completed, the database will not only identify your ancestors' marriage within the province, but will also identify all Poznan parishes where the surname appeared in a marriage record.
More information on the history and genealogy of the Poznan/Posen province (Wielkopolska)

 

AREA AND TIME FRAME

 

The area covered in the POZNAN PROJECT is the former Prussian Province of Poznan (Provinz Posen), i.e. including the area of Bydgoszcz [Bromberg] which was no more part of the Polish voivodship (province) of Poznan after 1924, still the 'Posen' label obviously pertained to it in the 19th century records. Another possibility would be to define the Project's scope as Wielkopolska (Greater Poland) instead of the Prussian Provinz Posen. A logical compromise was to simply add the 5 districts of Eastern Greater Poland which were under Russian domination in the 19th century to the project. This region of Konin and Kalisz is also traditionally tightly bound with Poznan so this makes sense.

 

Hence, we ultimately have ca. 530 Catholic parishes within the Prussian part plus 140 parishes of the former Russian part. For the Lutheran confession, there were up to 200 Lutheran communities in the Prussian part (although many of them were not created until 1860) and only 16 in the Russian part. A rough estimation suggests the records may no longer exist for up to 20% Catholic parishes and 40% Lutheran communities. From the surviving records, about 4/5 are probably available on LDS microfilms, which makes the participation in the POZNAN PROJECT possible for everybody all over the world!

 

The project's time frame has been defined as 1835-1884 because this period matches the largest emigration waves from the area in question. It also increases the likelihood that at least one marriage will be found from each family, provided the records exist. The last 10 years of that time frame have the potential to be filled or expanded by the information from civil registration records which are very well preserved and provide a great deal of genealogical data.

 

An estimated half a million Catholic marriages and 150,000 Lutheran marriages (due to the greater loss of Lutheran documents) could eventually be included in this database. Statistically the yearly average of marriages in a typical Catholic parish seems to be ca. 1/100 (one per cent) of the respective number of parishioners ('souls').

 

WHAT WILL BE TRANSCRIBED

 

For each marriage, the following basic information will be extracted:
   1. Sequential number of the marriage entry within the year
   2. First and second names of spouses
   3. Ages of spouses
   4. Names of parents (if recorded).

 

It is important to provide the name of the parish, year and microfilm number before the data on individual marriages. I suggest using the .xls MS Excel format for typing the results into your computer. If this is not available on your platform, you may use any document format which supports creation of regular tables with data (e.g. MS Word or similar).

 

Here is an example Excel file with marriages transcribed according to the most preferred data format. You can delete the samples and fill the tables with the material you have acquired. The file also contains some tips on the details of the transcription.

 

WHAT RECORDS ARE AVAILABLE FOR THE PROJECT AND HOW TO CONTRIBUTE

 

I have already compiled the complete database of both Catholic and Lutheran parishes within the Poznan Province. It also contains the description of marriage records available for the time frame 1835-1884 that will be indexed. The numbers of respective LDS microfilms are also provided

 

http://bindweed.man.poznan.pl/posen/data/mrecords.php

 

Please read also the explanations of the format.

 

 

For some localities there are no records available. In these cases, only the locality name and description can be found.

 

We encourage every genealogist researching the Poznan/Posen area to join our efforts for the common benefit. The task consists in visiting your local LDS Family History Center, ordering microfilms for a chosen parish (possibly one that you are already familiar with) and transcribe (index) the relevant information from all marriage records for the years 1835-1884.

 

We have already received a number of declarations of volunteering for indexing particular parishes. To avoid redundancy, please refer to the list of those who have declared so far, before you sign up for a parish.

 

Please notify me of your interest in a particular parish and remember to specify whether you want to transcribe the Catholic parish, the Lutheran community or both.

 

Please inform all people you think might be interested in supporting this project. Also, please post the information to newsgroups or discussion boards which deal with the Poznan genealogy. As there are so many parishes to transcribe, it is crucial that many people get involved. Please remember that transcribing a typical parish (1000 marriages entries) is a task that one person is capable of doing... As our database is already growing and first discoveries have been done thanks to it, I hope we will all become more encouraged to keep the project going on.

 

If you would like to participate in the project, please email me at bielecki@man.poznan.pl

 

It will be appreciated if you declare to 'host' an individual parish. Additionally, there are some individuals without convenient access to LDS Centers, yet willing to help indexing the material. It would be helpful to order photocopied pages with marriage records and send them to people working at home.

 

Please also email me the results of your indexing (preferably as an attached Excel datasheet or similar file).

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 

   1. Why only this basic data from the records?

 

   2. Concerns about the copyright law.

 

   3. Can I work at home?

   4. Can I submit my family information for the Project?

   5. Why only Christian marriages?

   6. I cannot transcribe records. Is there any other way to help?

If there are any more questions concerning the procedure, please ask me.

 

1. Answer: With the limited number of volunteers, it is important to concentrate on the most pertinent information for the database and give priority to indexing as many records as possible. The specific goal of the Project is indexing the marriage records which supplement data descendants have, rather than replacing the need for further genealogical research at their part. Furnished with the basic record from the index, researchers can order the respective microfilm(s) and expand upon their records to whatever extent they choose.

2. Answer: Our database only contains excerpts from actual records (another key reason for transcribing only the most crucial data) and does not reproduce a great deal of the information contained therein. Extracting information from a source and compiling it into a different form is not a violation of copyright laws.

 

3. Answer: Yes, one can e.g. order photocopies of the marriage records at the LDS Family History Centers. Please consult your nearest LDS FHC to find out how to do this.

 

4. Answer: Inserting a dozen of marriage entries into a database like ours is not very practical. Instead, we encourage people who already have experience with a particular parish to help us in the Project by indexing the Project's time frame for the entire parish. Being already acquainted with the handwriting, local names and other particularities, they are probably the best candidates for this task.

 

5. Answer: This is an issue of practicality. To be useful, a database of this kind needs to include a significant majority of the marriages which were contracted in the geographical area and time frame targeted. This objective is plausible for the Catholic or Lutheran populations, but is far less feasible for the Jewish community due to the extensive destruction of Jewish vital records. Marriage records for only a handful of Jewish communities exist in archives, and these only marginally fit the Project's time frame. We think it is better to concentrate resources on achievable goals rather than to raise the hope that Jewish families could also benefit in a meaningful way from this Project.

 

6. Answer: Sponsoring paper copies for people working at home would be an option (see #3 above). Other possibilities of supporting the Poznan Project are discussed here.

 

Author: Lukasz Bielecki

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