Sunday, November 8, 2015

My Atttention Turns Again to AGAD

A couple of weeks ago, I received a note from Rita, a Skalat Pikholz descendant in the US. She had just seen her mother's 1912 birth record in JRI-Poland, without a link to an actual scan. She wanted to know about getting the actual record.

With that she opened a door for me which - while not exactly overgrown with shrubbery - was a bit rusty.

Stop me if I have said some of this before.

Back in the early days of the Pikholz Project, Jacob Laor and I ordered searches of the Rozdol, Skalat and Zbarazh records for anything that had to do with Pikholz. These records are held by the AGAD (Archiwum Glowne Akt Dawnych = the Central Archives of Historical Records) in Warsaw. They found quite a few birth records for us but they only reported on the records where the father was the Pikholz. We placed orders several times and eight or ten other people joined in.

Then JRI-Poland added AGAD to their records project and they began indexing records. At first they had an ordering system which worked pretty well. Then about nine years ago, a new director took over at the Polish State Archives and everything stopped - the indexing, the ordering and some of the cordiality. We were left to place our orders on our own, from the existing index.

The first time I tried that, I found the bank charges high and the process a pain in the neck. I realized that the way to do this efficiently was to offer other people the opportunity to join me. It evolved into a system where I placed three or four orders a year and I acquired a large of records for myself, but certainly not all that I wanted. At first those records came on paper, but eventually they went over to scans. The scans were generally better quality than the paper.

In the meantime, the Polish State Archives found themselves with another new director and they began the process of making newer records available. Records are transferred periodically from the Civil Records Office to the archives only after one hundred years after the newest record in that particular book. But they cannot be indexed until after they are microfilmed, fumigated and whatever else archivists do. A significant backlog developed.

AGAD also decided to link the online index to scanned records so the need to order became redundant. But here too, there was a lag. So now there are older records scanned and online, newer records scanned and online, newer records indexed online but not scanned and probably newer records that have not yet been indexed. I was not able to keep up with what records were at what stage.

On top of that, I began linking records to the Pikholz Project website but that was a tedious process and I only did a few of the smaller towns. Not yet the ones from Skalat and Rozdol, for instance.

And of course, I was so heavily into DNA research, blogging and other aspects of genealogy that I had little time for the AGAD records.

When I heard from Rita, I decided I really should start catching up. I started going through the smaller towns, downloading scans in order to prepare them for linking to the Pikholz Project site. (That's more work than you would think.)

Now I still have no idea where AGAD is holding regarding scanning and linking the records that are already indexed or how soon they might have what other records indexed or in preparation for indexing.

In the meantime, I have begun preparing an Excel file with a list of records I want to order. Maybe I'll ask if others are interested.

But in the meantime...
... I found Uncle Selig's death record. Or at least the index reference. This is the brother of my great-great-grandmother, who has played such an important role in my research. He is featured in Chapter Seven of my book "ENDOGAMY: One Family, One People" and in fact the book is dedicated to his memory. He also appears prominently in the presentation I have been giving.

The scan is not linked, but I can order it from AGAD.

My father knew that his grandfather had an Uncle Selig Pikholz and I never understood why he knew that. When we found Uncle Selig alive in 1911, I considered that he may still have been alive during my father's lifetime. But not if he died in 1913. So I still don't know why my father knew of him.

So I'll be working on AGAD records for the next few weeks and if I can get a definitive response about AGAD's plans to upload scans, I'll know how to proceed.

Other things
Tuesday is twenty years for Nana. I wrote about her family here.

I have submitted three proposals for the IAJGS Conference in Seattle this summer, but I will only go if they schedule me for the first half of the week. Meantime, their website seems to have misplaced two of the three proposals.

Melody Amsel Arieli interviewed me about the book.

I am putting together a series of presentations in the US during the winter. Details to follow.


  1. That's what I like. Fun at work!

  2. I have uploaded the 1913 Tarnopol death record of Selig Pickholz to Facebook - Jewish Genealogy Portal group. As a volunteer for JRI-Poland, I want everybody to know that it is the monetary contributions and volunteer sweat that allows these Polish public records to be available at your fingertips. Contributions pay for the indexing that costs over 30 cents per record and volunteers amend the index files with the information needed to link these records on the JRI-Poland search results. So, everybody can help for Tarnopol and the other 90 AGAD towns.

  3. Here's some good news. JRIP-PL has been active in obtaining images of all the records from many of the towns in Poland. I don't have a definitive list but from what I heard it's safe to say about 70% if not more (available years will vary).

    Now here's the bad news, until the cost of acquiring the images is recovered on a town by town basis, they won't be put up on-line. To find out if the town you're researching has images, contact the town leaders by clicking on the town name in this list

    They'll then be able to tell you in they have the images and if so, what amount constitutes a qualifying donation to obtain all the images. Even if you can't afford the qualifying donation, you make smaller donations for each records (I always recommend $10 US).

    As a town leader for Nowy Dwor, Maz. our qualifying donation is $200. I have access to surviving records right up to August 1939.

    Good luck in your research.

  4. Israel:
    There is a Fond 300 record I wish to see (it has been indexed, but is not online yet from the Archives). So, I will likely be interested if you put together an order.