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Eastern European: Problem Solving
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Researching Eastern European ancestors can be a challenging process. Sorting out surnames, trying to identify ancestral hometowns, and deciphering old country records to connect families are just a few of the obstacles often encountered along the way. This course focuses on six of the most common Eastern European genealogy research problems and the methods to solve them. We will begin with the issue of names and the problem of spelling. Next, we will address the problems of identifying the name of the ancestral town or village and locating places those places using current borders. Then, we will review the issue of records access (especially how to acquire records that are not online) and address the challenges of reading records in unfamiliar languages. Finally, we will discuss the basics of what it means when your DNA test results indicate Eastern European ancestry.

Course Content

Module 1

Getting the Ancestor’s Name Right
Why Spelling Counts
Determining an Ancestor’s Original Name
• Surname Research Basics
• How to Overcome Name Obstacles
Three Categories of Name Changes
• Resources for Researching Names
Polish Surnames / Naming Patterns
• Top Ten Polish Surnames
Czech & Slovak Surnames / Naming Patterns
• Top Ten Czech Surnames
• Top Ten Slovak Surnames
Hungarian Surnames
• Top Last Names in Hungary
Russian Surnames
• Top 10 Russian Surnames
Ukrainian Names
• Top 10 Ukrainian Surnames
Jewish Names
Name Changes—Myths, Misconceptions & Misnomers
• Ellis Island Name Change Myth
Record Examples
Search Tips
Sample Case Study
• What’s the Point(Kouski)?
Recommended Reading & Resources

Module 2

They came from where? Problems with Perplexing Place Names
Why are place names so perplexing?
Best Sources for Finding a Town/Village Name
“Hit or Miss” Records
• Other Resources
Tracking Down Fellow Villagers
Tips to Make Sure You Have the Right Location
Sample Case Study
Recommended Reading & Resources

Module 3

Where is that? Reconciling Current & Historical Geography
General Guidance
Dealing with Multiple Places―Which One is Correct?
• Determining Name Variations
• Find Others Searching for Your Village
• Missing Villages
Shifting Borders & Ancestral Migration
• Old versus Present-day Place Names
• Old Magyar (Hungarian) Place Names
Place Name Conversion Tips
• Village Name Change Example
Sample Case Study
• JewishGen
Recommended Reading & Resources

Module 4

Why can’t I find the records?
Where are Eastern European records located?
• Find Online Records
• Use the Resources of the Family History Library
How to Get Records When They’re Not Online
• Write to Archives
• Visit the Archive
• Hire a Professional to Get What You Can’t
Missing or Incomplete Records―How to Handle Gaps & Conflicts
• Tips to Handle Gaps and Conflicts
Sample Case Study
• Finding Records of Yesterday in Today’s Eastern Europe
Recommended Reading & Resources

Module 5

What does this say? Reading Foreign Records
Overview of Languages
Paragraph vs. Columnar Records
Languages of Jewish Records
How to Dissect Key Eastern European Records (Paragraph vs. Columnar)
• Column Headers
Sample Case Study
Recommended Reading & Resources

Module 6

What to do with DNA Results
My DNA Test Results Indicate Eastern European—Now What?
• Ethnicity Estimates
Reference Panels by Company
Brief Comparison of Tests & Testing Companies
• AncestryDNA
• Family Tree DNA
• 23andMe
• MyHeritage
• Living DNA
Merging DNA Results with Your Genealogy Paper Trail
Recommended Reading & Resources


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