How to Trace Your Family Tree in Eastern Europe | The Armchair Genealogist
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How to Trace Your Family Tree in Eastern Europe

Rarely do I get excited about a genealogy reference manual, but then again rarely does one come along that speaks so specifically to a gap in genealogy research guides.

The Family Tree Polish, Czech And Slovak Genealogy Guide: How to Trace Your Family Tree in Eastern Europe is one of those exceptions that will be appreciated by Eastern European researchers.  I had the pleasure of receiving a review copy from Family Tree Books. 

The Family Tree Polish, Czech & Slovak Genealogy Guide is written by Lisa A. Alzo.  Let me be clear, I’m not just reviewing this book. I’m using it.

With Polish roots, I was excited to see what this reference guide had to offer and let me say I was not disappointed.

Fours Easy Sections

The guide is divided into four easy to follow sections. 

In part one, Lisa helps you connect your ancestors to the old country and their Eastern European hometowns. I can speak from experience that this can be a challenge in the early days of your research. Part one will come in handy for those of you just starting out.

Also, in part one, this book covers the history of Poland and the Slovak republics.  If you have ever tried to make sense of the history of Eastern Europe, you understand how overwhelming it can be. Lisa has broken it down into very simple terms. She also offers some great resources for when you are ready to take your knowledge of Poland’s complex history to the next level.

Handy Timelines

I appreciated the timelines of Poles in America and Czech and Slovaks in America. Along with those timelines, Lisa offers a nice easy to use timeline of Polish history as well as one of Czech and Slovak history. These are handy quick reference tools to help you see what was happening on both sides of the ocean during the time of your ancestor’s immigration. Combined with the maps and explanations of the all too confusing Polish Partitions, Lisa has set us up with some great groundwork for beginning your research.  In part 2, Lisa continues to expand your knowledge of the old country and the Eastern European culture with Eastern European geography, languages and naming for both given names and surnames. There are plenty of resources and links to maps in this section.

Jam-Packed with Links

Part 3 gets us into records. We are introduced to resources for vital records, census records, military records, newspapers and local histories. Part 3 is jam-packed with links. Also, if you’re lucky enough to travel to the old country, which I am hoping to do in the next year or two, Lisa shares firsthand travel experience to Eastern Europe and on-site research.

Case Studies

Part 4 is entitled Advanced Studies, and it includes several case studies to help you put it all together.

If that wasn’t enough, the appendixes are filled with helpful resources.

The section, Understanding Polish appendix is fantastic. Complete with the Polish alphabet, a pronunciation guide, key polish terms as well as numbers and genealogical terms. There is an appendix for understanding Czech, and Slovak as well. I appreciated this section as someone with no knowledge of the Polish language. It is going to be a tremendous resource for me moving forward.  Also in the appendixes lists of genealogy archives and libraries along with civil record archives in Europe, Polish, Czech and Slovak historical and genealogical societies with mailing addresses.

Worksheets and Letters

There are several worksheets, including cluster research worksheets, name variants worksheets, Polish Partition Tracker Worksheet and a Vital Records Checklist.

Finally, the icing on the cake is the sample letters written in Polish, Czech and Slovakia with English translations to use to request records. These letters are worth the price of the book alone.

You can find the guide on for an affordable $21.59. The Family Tree Polish, Czech And Slovak Genealogy Guide: How to Trace Your Family Tree in Eastern Europe is also available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.

This book is value for money, and a must have for anyone with Eastern European history.