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Database FAQ

Hints and Strategies 

  1. Surnames and towns with accented characters
  2. Searching Surname in a specific town
  3. Narrowing a search when there are too many results
  4. Searching data that is not specific to a geographical area


1. How do you search a surname or town that contains accented characters?

If your ancestral surname is sometimes written with accented characters, do NOT enter these accented characters in the surname or town fields. If you do try to search using accented characters, you will not get back the results you are expecting!

There are a variety of accented characters used in Polish surnames. In some cases, they sufficiently modify the pronunciation of a name to also change the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex code for that name.

For example, a vowel that contains an ogonek (a little hook) beneath it causes the vowel to be pronounced with an "n" or an "m." Example: the "e" in Ostroleka is written in Polish with an ogonek under the "e" and the town name is pronounced Ostrolenka.

If your town name or surname has an ogonek, to get best results:

  • Do NOT search by including the ogonek in the name. Instead, convert the name with the ogonek to the phonetic sound, then do a Daitch-Mokotoff soundex search.
  • Do NOT do an exact surname search.
When you do a Daitch-Mokotoff soundex search, the results will show entries for all soundex variations of the name. Therefore if you search for the town WENGROW or the surname WENGROWSKI it will provide results for:
WENGROW
WEGRÓW
WENGROWSKI
WEGROWSKI
Or if you search for PIONTEK you will get results for
PIANTEK
PIENTEK
PIATAK
PIONTEK
PIETEK
PIEMTEK
PIAMTEK
It is important to remember that the data entry was done based on what we saw or thought we saw in the index. Therefore, if the 19th century clerk did not put the ogonek in a name when he wrote it out, we did not do so either. There may be versions of the name in our database that do not contain the ogonek and are not phoneticized with an "n" or "m". Therefore it is best also to search for the name without including the ogonek in the spelling.

For example, a town search for WEGROW or surname search for WEGROWSKI will get you some listings for those names spelled without the ogonek. But it will not get you listings for WENGROW or WENGROWSKI.

The ogonek is the ONLY accented character for which one should search phonetically in the JRI-Poland database.

For example, the name JASKOLKA with a slashed L is pronounced JASKUWKA in Poland. But you should search for JASKOLKA, not the Polish phonetic JASKUWKA, even though the name contains the slashed L.

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2. How do I search for my Surname in a specific town?

There are two different methods of accomplishing this. Let's search for JASKOLKA from Lomza.

Method 1: Enter the surname JASKOLKA and then skip down to Search by Distance from Town of Registration? Central Coordinates. Enter Radius = 1 mile. Look up the latitude and longitude of Lomza, Poland using ShtetlSeeker and enter those numbers (5311, 2205). Click Start Search.

Method 2: Enter the surname JASKOLKA as the first parameter and enter the town Lomza as the second parameter. Make sure that "Match ALL of the above (logical AND)" is selected. Click Start Search.

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3. My search resulted in too many responses. How can I reduce the number of responses?

There are a few ways to narrow your search. You need to select one of the following that best matches your search.
  1. Select the Gubernia or Wojewodztwa where your target person lived. Click here for more information.
  2. Perform a radius search of 10, 20, or 30 miles from the town where your target person lived. Click here for more information.
  3. Perform a multiple parameter search using Surname and given name or surname and town. Click here for more information.
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4. I want to search the Monitor Polski, Polish Aliya Passport, and other data that is not specific to a geographical region. How do I accomplish this?

To obtain results from these projects and similar ones, you must search the entire database - do not narrow your search by geographic region or coordinates. You must search the database and ensure that Geographical Region is set to "All Regions".

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Surviving records less than 100 years old are held in the Civil Records Offices (Urzad Stanu Cywilnego) of each town.

For information on the 20th century records available for your town, visit the Routes to Roots Foundation website, CLICK ON THE 'SEARCH DATABASE' button (on the right side) and enter the town name. Look for the town name in the Repository/City column of the search results. There are typically links to lists of available births, marriage and death records for the town.

Note, however, the Routes to Roots Foundation database may indicate turn of the century records that have already been transferred to the appropriate branch of the Polish State Archives where they can be indexed for the JRI-Poland database.

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