Galician Research

Research History Galician Research


Galician Research: Historical Perspectives

Galicia is the given name to that partition of Poland which was occupied by the Austro-Hungarian Empire between 1772-1918. Consequently, as a foreign provincial name, imposed upon the Polish subjects of many different areas, Galicia is no longer recognized on the administrative maps of the Polish Republic as a county, province nor region. However, since the major migration to America occurred during the period of Germanic occupation, family records may often mislead the novice researcher by listing an ancestor's place of origin as "Austria" or the elusive "Galicia". Galicia, in particular, is recognized and referred to extensively in the Immigration Passenger Lists as Austrian Poland.


The full name of the province was "Galizien und Lodomerien" in German, or "Galicia et Lodomeria" in the Latinized form. The name is derived from two ancient duchies, Halychyna and Volhynia, which served as buffer states between the southeastern Polish frontier and the Kievan State, until their absorption by Poland in the 14th century.


The province stretched like a crescent moon from Krakow in the west, to the Romanian border in the southeast, following the northern slopes of the Carpathian Mountains. It had a population of over 7 million people in 1900, consisting mainly of Catholic Poles in the western third; Orthodox Ruthenians in the eastern third; and a mixture in the middle; and large German and Jewish communities scattered throughout. After World War I and the Russo Polish War 1920-21, the province returned to Polish administration. However, after World War II, the Soviet Union forced the annexation into the Ukraine of all but the overwhelmingly Polish areas. Many Poles were expelled, and the traditional, the mainly Polish, capital of Lwów (Lemberg) was brutally Russianized.


At the present time, there are available through Mormon branch libraries, microfilm copies of so-called Polish Civil records for Galicia. In reality, these transcripts of parish records collected in regional archives were for the purposes of military conscription. They usually commence around 1784 and continue into the 1850's, although many of the collections are incomplete, and in other cases, no longer extant for many villages.


However, because of the previously discussed political situation the records for Galicia are grouped in two different areas. Those for the areas in the west, still within the borders of the Polish Republic, are listed under the pre-1965 provinces (Wojewodstwa) of Krakow and Rzeszow, and thereunder within the appropriate county (Powiat). Those records for areas beyond the Soviet Border, are grouped under Ukrainian Records, and there under within the general district.


Nevertheless, the point exemplified by the introduction to this article is that genealogical research cannot be divorced from a geographical and historical study of the area under investigation. Not only will a knowledge of the local history provide enriched backgrounds and outline the factors impacting our ancestors' lives and fortunes, but such knowledge is a necessity in order to understand the research material relating to our genealogical investigations. To that end, the following is a general outline of the history of Galicia, which in its own way is uniquely different from the other regions of Poland. Each topic is itself worthy of an in-depth study to shed light on its effect upon our ancestral heritage.



Pre history Spread of Lusation culture
500 A D
Development of the Wiskabue Tribe/Lugian Union
500- 700 Domination by Croats
700- 880 Expansion of the Wislanian Territorial State
880- 910 Overlordship by Moravia
966 Poland founded and converted to Christianity by Mieszko I
990 The Wislanie annexed to the new Polish State
1000- 1241 Regionalism, as the Kingdom of Little Poland, and Palatinate of Sandomir. The Polish capital moved to Krakow.
1241- 1288 Three Mongolian invasions by the armies of the Ghengis Khan and his successors
1288- 1330 Galicia as the Polish frontier and main area for eastward expansion
1330- 1370 The reign of King Casimir the Great. The annexation of Halychyna and Volhynia. Border rivalry with Lithuania.
1330- 1570 Jagiellonian Poland. Establishment of Galician towns and the spread of Magdeburgian town law.
1502- 1510 Invasion by the Turks from the East
1500- 1700 The imposition of serfdom
1600- 1650 Tartar incursions
1650- 1660 The Swedish Deluge
1700- 1702 The Northern War
1700- 1772 The dissolution of the State
1768- 1772 Confederation of Bar
1772 Occupation by the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the First Partition
1781- 1849 The struggle against serfdom
1786 The land Katester
1793- 1795 The Kosciuszko War for Independence
1805- 1812 Impact of Napoleonic hegemony
1831 Asiatic Cholera epidemic
1846 The Galician Peasant Uprising
1847 Typhus and Cholera outbreaks
1848- 1849 The emancipation of the Galician peasants
1853- 1855 The great famine. The "Great Cholera", 1854, "Little Cholera", 1873
1850- 1900 The struggle for democracy and overpopulation effects
1880- 1914 The breaking up of the estates
1905 Year of Strikes
1914- 1921 World War I. The passing of the Eastern Front through Galicia several times. The collapse of Austria. The Polish - Russian War.