Tuesday, August 5, 2014

GRIP 2014: Day 1

You can also read my introduction post on GRIP 2014 and my posts on GRIP 2012.

Polish Panorama
The official start to GRIP was Monday and the first lecture in the Polish genealogy course was on the Polish Panorama at PARI given by PARI director Ceil Wendt Jensen.  The Panorama has 106 figures representing Poles from peasants to Pope John Paul.  Each figure is 30 inches high, moves along the stage on an automated track (bottom middle and right) and was designed by Zbigniew Baran.  My favorites were the peasant woman with her baby (top left), the winged hussar (middle right) and the partitioned Poland in mourning (top right).   There is also a mural designed by Marek Żółtak showing important churches of Poland (bottom left).

We then had two lectures on the Polish language for genealogists.  It began by looking at some of the records available for genealogists, including some that you cannot easily find online, such as a "list of souls", estate and manor records and travel documents.  We then got to practice Polish pronunciation with Eugenia Gorecki, who is the in-house translator at the Polish Mission.  I'm not sure Genia was too impressed by any of us...

The last lecture of the day was on the identification and history of ancestral villages.  This was of particular interest to me, as I have not found the exact villages my Polish ancestors emigrated from.  It is important to look at as many items as possible to try to find the name of the village.  They recommend WWI draft cards, naturalization papers and ship manifests.  There are a lot of online gazetteers that can assist in finding out where that village was at the time your ancestor lived there.  Considering all of the border changes in Poland, using maps from the correct time period is of utmost importance.

In addition to the course lectures, GRIP offers evening lectures, which are also free to the public, on different topics.  The first evening session was given by Polish Mission director Marcin Chumiecki on some of the projects they are currently doing.  The one that most amazed me is "Forbidden Art," an exhibit on the art prisoners produced in Auschwitz and Birkenau.  Currently on exhibit at the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Kansas, this looks both fascinating and heartbreaking.  There is a short online tour which I highly recommend (see YouTube video above) and I hope to make a trip to see this in the near future.

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