Don’t chuck “busia” into the dumpster!
By Robert Strybel, "The Polish Answer Man" Don’t chuck “busia” into the dumpster!
“busia” into the dumpster!
By Robert Strybel, Polish/Polonian Affairs Writer
ul. Kaniowska 24
01-529 Warsaw, Poland
Often without knowing it, we come face
to face with history, our own ancestral annals, when an elderly family member
goes on to his or her reward. In addition to the property left behind by loved
ones such as homes, furnishings and cars, they often leave a legacy of family
souvenirs, keepsakes and mementoes. To some this may be little more than
useless clutter, a bunch of junk to be dumped or incinerated as soon as
possible. However, before that happens, one thing should be considered. Our
ancestor must have considered these things valuable and priceless if he or she
decided to hang on to them all these years. Doesn’t their wanton destruction
amount to chucking “busia” (granny) into the dumpster?
Unfortunately, most Polish Americans begin taking an interest in their
ancestral roots a bit too late in life when elderly family members are no
longer around to ask about things. That “junk” may therefore be one of their
last remaining links to their family history. Every effort should therefore me
made to safeguard whatever possible for posterity. These may include such
keepsakes as Old World documents (baptismal/birth certificates, marriage
certificates, passports and steamship-ticket stubs), US naturalization papers,
yellowed Old Country letters, funeral cards, Polonian jubilee publications,
newspaper cuttings, etc. If possible, an oral narration by the oldest living
family member can be recorded or written down for future reference.
Even if your younger set shows little
interest in family heritage at present, some day some grandchild or
great-grandchild may suddenly start wondering about his or her family roots.
Maybe a teacher will assign ancestral history or a family tree as an essay
topic or class project. If that occurs, the child will have something to fall
back upon. But if these keepsakes are not safeguarded, they will be lost
Other than saving family keepsakes, a
good place to start exploring your ancestral ties is your Polish name
itself. For a custom-researched analysis of the meaning and derivation of
your surname, how many people use it, where they live and whether a coat of
arms goes with it, you may send a $15 check (adding $5 for each additional
surname) to the author: Robert Strybel, ul. Kaniowska 24, 01-529 Warsaw,
Poland. To help you get
started you will also receive a contact list of genealogical leads,
institutions, organizations, websites and other resources which many
Polish-American root-tracers have found extremely helpful.
Also worth recommending is
Rosemary Chorzempa’s book “Polish Roots”. It provides a good background for
those getting started in genealogical exploration with plenty of hints,
step-by-step instructions and valuable leads to follow up on. It is
available online at www.polishartcenter.com