Genealogical research is not only a way to discover the history of your family or community. There are various issues where, in order to solve the client’s current problems, it is necessary to delve into archives, databases, censuses, and records. When to use genealogical research?
Family history, property, repression
The request for genealogical research often concerns the identification of the client’s ancestors. For this purpose, a detailed interview is conducted to preliminarily determine the location of archives where the necessary documents may be found. Then, the degree of their preservation is checked, as not all records have survived to our times, and many of them were irretrievably lost during World War II. The next step involves a comprehensive archival query, during which copies of documents are made: baptismal registers, population censuses, electoral lists, and records, among others. At this stage, it sometimes turns out that field investigations are also necessary by conducting interviews with individuals who may have knowledge about the members of our family. Ultimately, the client receives a detailed description of the history of their family, enabling them to learn about its members, their degree of kinship, and places of residence. They can also find out about the property they possessed and whether they were repressed in any way (deportations, camps, prisons, etc.) and what faith they practiced.
Inheritance matters – did an ancestor own property, and do I have rights to it?
In the last 150 years, people often migrated to different countries, some voluntarily, others under duress. Many of them left property in their homelands, such as real estate, and their heirs often have no knowledge of this or possess only fragmentary information about it. Ordering genealogical research allows for the verification of the existence of the inheritance and the identification of heirs based on official documents. Sometimes, these are individuals with whom the client has lost contact, or they may not even be aware of their existence. Acquiring documents in such cases is a complex and time-consuming procedure, and merely locating them is just the first step. Subsequent steps require reaching out to heirs and conducting all necessary legal procedures, such as property sales.
Another category of cases that require genealogical research is related to the repression of ancestors, being victims of deportation, placement in labor and concentration camps. Gathered documents confirming these facts are essential when applying for various forms of rehabilitation or compensation. The same applies to matters related to the client’s acquisition of another country’s citizenship or emigration to a specific state. In such cases, it may be necessary to obtain documents confirming both the faith and nationality of the ancestors. These documents form the necessary basis for commencing legal procedures.
Regardless of the purpose of genealogical research, it is important to remember that although most documents are publicly available, this kind of “investigation” inherently requires significant time commitment, knowledge of archival matters, skills for searching scattered databases, understanding of local “nuances,” and proficiency in foreign languages (Latin, Russian). Additionally, there are legal aspects involved in analyzing the obtained documents and the contemporary consequences of their content. Moreover, some data may require interviews with witnesses, visits to cemeteries in various cities and villages, which demands both time and soft skills.
Sometimes, it is worthwhile to entrust comprehensive research to specialists who will clarify the scope of necessary actions and guide through each stage, providing legal support when needed.
Author of the text: Marcin Silwanow
Contact us if you need assistance in this area.