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Ships of Our Ancestors

Reviewed by Thomas L. Hollowak, PGSA Fall 1985 Bulletin

By Michael J. Anuta. Published by Ships of Our Ancestors, Inc.,RA 655 Westland 577, Menominee, MI 49858-9775.@1983. Price $30.00

Ships of Our Ancestors is one of the most, if not the most, comprehensive collection of photographs and illustrations compiled of ships which carried immigrants to America. However, as the author points out in his Foreward, "Pictures of some of the ships are missing or not available especially before photography." Even so there are 880 photographs and drawings, covering the period 1820-1950, which are arranged alphabetically by the name of the vessel. Mr. Anuta has also included photographs of passengers aboard the ships, as well as advertising posters of the major steamship lines that operated between Europe and America bringing immigrants to this country. They came to the Western World in ships over the Atlantic, from ports in the Scandinavian, Russian, Danish, Belgian, Holland, German, English, Irish, Scottish, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian and Greek Ports by the thousands.

The most important part of their pilgrimage was the crossing of the Atlantic. The waters of the northern Atlantic, the shortest way between Europe and the Western world, was one of the most dangerous of all ocean passages. The voyage of each ancestor was epic, a heroic adventure.

To us of the first, second, third, fourth or even later generations, the name of the ship, the passenger list and a picture of the ship itself is one of the most positive pieces of evidence of their coming and of their courage and foresight that willed them to endure every hardship to reach their goal of a new life for themselves and those who followed them.

One of the greatest thrills for a descendant is to actually see a picture of the ship on which his or her ancestors crossed the seas. Most descendants of immigrants will be able to find the ship of their Ancestors or at least a sister ship or the ship of the period during which they made their Atlantic voyage.

The photographs and drawings were compiled from ten research centers that the author has included for those who desire more information on a particular ship or ships. The serious drawback to this book is a lack of information on the ships found within, i.e., date launched, years of service, and ports of call. However, the author does answer the criticism, " It was hoped that with the pictures of the ships, the ship departures and arrivals could be published along with some of the history of each ship. It developed that the number of ships involved limited the amount of information which could be included." It is hoped by this reviewer that Mr. Anuta will publish a second volume with the information he describes above. The two would be a formidable contribution to the field of genealogy and social history.

Bound in soft cover perfect binding, the book is available at $30, from

Michael J. Anuta, RA 655, Westland 577, Menominee, MI 49858

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Study of Obituaries as a Source for Genealogical Research, The

Reviewed by Rosalie Lindberg

By Thomas E. Golembiewski, Published by The Polish Genealogical Society 984 Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL 60642 Second Edition 2009 $10.00 plus shipping.

One way to determine the relationships of earlier ancestors is to look at obituaries. But, if you are doing Polish research the most interesting and valuable ones are old and likely written in (surprise!) Polish. About 25 years ago our Society, then known simply as the Polish Genealogical Society, published a book written by Thomas E. Golembiewski on gathering family history information from obituaries. In recent years, researchers have rediscovered what a valuable resource obituaries can be. As a result PGSA has received more and more questions about the information they contain. So as a service to our members and others interested in this unique resource, PGSA has issued the second edition of The Study of Obituaries as a Source for Genealogical Research.

In addition to succeeding to satisfy the original intent of the book which was to: provide the reader with invaluable information on how to use obituaries in research, reprinting this reference work allowed us to apply today’s technology to making the text easier to read and enlarging and improving the readability of a number of the obituaries included as examples. These examples, and the background information the author used in his own research, helps non-Polish speakers find their way around the documents—pulling data from even simple phrases.

The work includes various kinds and formats of obituaries, but since they varied little from paper to paper, they are useful no matter what newspapers are being studied. The book also addresses topics such as women’s names, societies and multiple insertions. Few researchers are familiar with this last category. These may be the result of corrections, preliminary announcements or society acknowledgements—any of which may provide new or interesting revelations.

In the years that just one Polish newspaper, Dziennik Chicagoski, was published, its issues included well over 125,000 obituaries. Considering the number of Polish immigrants that populated enclaves in cities in the United States who preferred to read the news in their native language, it is likely there are hundred of thousands of obits still to be explored.

Very few of today’s researchers speak or read the Polish language and therefore assume working with these important documents is beyond their capabilities. But the Golembiewski book on the study of obituaries may be just the tool that provides the encouragement to make the effort and find important family connections.

Notes:
1. The first review of the Golembiewski book was written by a William (Fred) Hoffman in 1984. With his permission we have incorporated some of his comments and insights in this review of the second edition.
2. The book can be purchased for $10.00 (+ shipping & handling) from the PGSA Store, at quarterly PGSA meetings or the conference.

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