Breaking the Language Barrier


Eileen Walter was searching for her maternal great grandfather’s records. But trying to find the official records of a family in a small village in Poland isn’t exactly easy, especially when you live across the world. Online records didn’t help either, since she couldn’t speak or read the language. She had the birth and death dates of her great grandfather, Franciszek Zbydniowski, but didn’t have birth records. She knew the names of his parents, Adam Zbydniowski and Apolonia Gadowska, but didn’t know their dates of birth or death. And she knew who Franciszek married – Jozefa Rybak- but didn’t have her birth record either. So she posted a research request on AncestorCloud to get some help.

Zbigniew Stettner responded to her request for research help because of his close proximity to where the records were located. This was a great match because a number of the records were not available online and required a visit to the archives. Initially, Eileen wanted to focus on finding records for her maternal grandmother, who she knew the most information about. After consulting with Zbigniew though, they determined that their efforts would be more successful by starting on her grandfather’s line. Zbigniew put together an action plan:

I went to a state archive in Płock and found a few generations (back to 18th century) of Eileen’s families in a few different parishes as they were quite mobile. There are still earlier records available in the church archives in Plock so there is a chance for further findings. The best about this project was that I was able to solve quite complex problem (family moving between a few different parishes in 19th century) in a limited time.

Zbigniew was able to find many records for Eileen’s family in the Plock state and church archives, with some of them already indexed. Eileen was thrilled with Zbigniew’s findings; he found more than she had expected, and in a short amount of time. With her new-found knowledge, she plans to travel to Poland herself to research more of her grandmother’s family and work with her relatives there.

My relatives haven’t kept track of their family’s past history which is understandable in the circumstances under which they lived. They are only concerned about their daily lives. I am hoping the younger members of the family will start to take an interest. If I need further help in tracing my family, I will call upon Zbigniew again.

Want to find a researcher like Eileen did? Post a request to our community today!


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