Dear reader,

As our guests, you often ask questions on how to better understand your ancestors. What history, emotions, and dramas are standing behind their decisions and choices. 

Why they did not want to talk about the past?  Why did they build their new life in a certain way? What were the reasons for their failures and what was the price of success?

I strongly believe that the key is to have deeper knowledge about the context. You have to escape from the records, papers, numbers and dry facts and think about the historical and cultural background. 

Knowing the everyday life in Poland, its upsides and downsides, their way to settle in the new country and the hardships they endured at the beginning of building their new life.

For years, we’ve been helping you gain abetter understanding of the history of your  family’s ancestral villages, during our Genealogy Tours.

Click here to see the posts on our blog in the category "Emigration".

Today I would like to remind you that on our Blog  there is a category “Emigration”,  you will find several texts concerning these questions.

For example “Why My Ancestors Left” by Bogusz Pawiński and a four-part series “Beyond the Big Water” describing the reasons, the conditions and the way of traveling, as well as some dark sides of the emigration along with the illegal actions of agents.

Did you know that in Poland we have an excellent emigration museum? The exhibition was opened in 2015. It is presenting the history of emigration from Polish lands. The story of millions of people who left the country in search of a better life, of fulfilling their dreams and finding freedom. The  place - the Maritime Station in Gdynia. Here is the description from the museum’s website: “The narrative begins with the Great Emigration, through the Industrial Revolution, mass emigration to the United States, life in the Brazilian jungle, society in Chicago, the dramatic fate of people during and after World War Two, the difficult years of the Polish People's Republic, and ends in modern times with Poland joining the European Union. The exhibition allows you to feel and understand what it meant to emigrate, it shows us the reality of a sea crossing for 3rd class passengers - from the moment of embarkation, through the voyage itself, both on and below deck, all the way to the immigration procedures on the famous Ellis Island in the United States”. What can I add to that? This place is a must-visit! We have included it in the itinerary of our Prussian Poland Tour.

Leaving behind the hardship of leaving the homeland and enduring a long travel abroad, there is another aspect: how did they found themselves in the new world? Many of the emigrants settled in large cities such as New York, Chicago, Cleveland, and others. But there were also the farmers, who settled in small areas that could support farming. For many years, there was a debate as to which Polish settlement was the first in America. The two primary contenders were Panna Maria, Texas and Parisville, Michigan. Eventually, Panna Maria turned out to be the winner, however, Parisville was still very important because it was the first Polish settlement in Michigan.

We would like to recommend the book “Parisville. The Oldest Polish Settlement in Michigan” written by Charles -Ciechanowski- Chinoski-Chase. You can read more about the book here. Charles also contributed  a few articles on this subject to our website.  You can find them now illustrated with old photographs on our blog.  

I invite you to join a discussion and sharing your ancestors’ emigration stories. Maybe you have some unique memorabilia cherished in your family? What was their life like after the emigration?  Did they like to come back to the past and share their stories eagerly?

What was your path to understanding family history?

As always, I am looking forward to reading your messages.

Greetings from Poland,

Agnieszka Pawlus

And the whole PolishOrigins Team

P.S. We would like to share with you information about our new mini-project - PolishOrigins’ field report. We have been pondering for some time now, about the best way of sharing the adventures and emotions our guests experience on their genealogy tours. Many of them write short testimonials or longer stories later published on our blog. But we came up with another idea; a few short sentences, enriched with a picture or two, which will be shared with you.

Of course, nothing will replace the actual feeling of discovering family roots, finding family land, or meeting with newly discovered cousins. Yet, we hope that this way we will manage to give you at least a taste of what’s going on during the ancestral trips. See the first PolishOrigins’ field report: Grandfather with granddaughters in the parish office on Facebook  or on Instagram.