Founded and located here in Western New York, we have members from many other states and Canadian provinces. Additionally, the Polish Genealogical Society of New York State proudly supports anyone who finds us and has a specific Polish genealogy inquiry pertaining to Buffalo, Western New York counties, and New York State. Members respond to requests for research assistance from anyone, whether they are true members or not! Many of those who inquire with an out-of-area letter or are a website user become members. The “Buffalo connection” for those with Polish heritage is noteworthy.
We also have many opportunities each year to take a Polish Genealogy show "on the road" and we have an information table and helpful support staff at many local cultural and social events. Our society's monthly meetings are open to everyone during which we have guest speakers and research nights on a rotating basis.
Occasionally, someone may contact us when they find items relevant to local Polish heritage and history, at garage sales or discovered when selling a family home. Members have found marriage licenses, naturalization papers, pictures, church jubilee books, or something such as funeral prayer cards. We encourage sharing the items with the Society for review, and we index the materials for its potentially useful information.
Among our external activities, we sponsor an annual Genealogy Fair each September held at St. Gabriel’s church in Elma, now nine years running. We participate in the annual summer Polish Festival at Cheektowaga Town Park, and have a presence at the monthly Polish Happy Hours. We will eagerly send a representative to be a Guest Speaker at other genealogy and cultural or history society meetings. These events spark interest and generate new members and project volunteers.
Our Society maintains a website, www.pgsnys.org. As name lists, surname indices, or any other relevant name indices become ready for the website, we continuously add these resources to the website for anyone to search.
The Polish Genealogical Society of New York State (PGSNYS) was founded in September 1988 by (the late) Michael Drabik to help people discover their Polish family heritage and ancestors. We promote the study of Polish genealogy in the Western New York and Southern Ontario, Canada, areas and beyond. The Society became incorporated as a not-for-profit in New York State on May 11, 2015 as a 501(c)(3) Federal tax-exempt organization.
Society holds monthly business meetings, presentations and small social activities each month. We participate in special events and provide guest speakers at alternate event locations as requested. Our society has about 225 members, drawn from within and beyond the Buffalo and Western New York area. The Society publishes its newsletter, "Searchers", three times per year. "Searchers" contains information about the Society and original articles written or submitted by members relating to genealogy and Polish history. All efforts support work to create our database of unique local name indices, to grow the searchable name database that is so vital to local and regional genealogical research. Projects we manage continue, we are using volunteers to create surname lists for cemetery records, and birth, marriage and death records at the historically Polish churches in the Buffalo area. Another historic newspaper, Polak w Ameryce, will be the next project for our efforts.
All of our activities and projects supported by our members serve the following purposes:
• to provide a Society for persons interested in Polish genealogy, with a primary focus on families with a New York State connection;
• to encourage and promote interest in Polish genealogical research, history, and culture;
• to provide educational programs and publications to foster effective genealogical research skills;
• to provide education on the history and culture of Poland and Poles in America;
• to provide assistance to persons researching their specific family history;
• to collect, preserve, and share Polish and related genealogical and historical records and materials; especially for Western NY’s Polonia communities;
• to collaborate with other Polish community organizations in projects and activities that promote interest in Polish genealogical research, history, and culture.
The Polish Genealogical Society of New York State (PGSNYS) has established the Michael Drabik Memorial Library, located in the Grosvenor Room of the Buffalo & Erie County Library. This book collection was donated in 2008, consists of 300 books. We are currently reviewing the inventory and upgrading the display and shelving area in cooperation with the Grovesnor Room management.
The largest ongoing unique project of the PGSNYS is the creation of genealogical aids and our databases that index the death information in Polish newspaper, Dziennnik Dla Wszystkich. Since the Death Notice Database project was conceptualized and designed in 1999, and for the past 17 years, this is our most important goal: to complete the indexing, digitization and enabling of the completion of a searchable database of the newspaper.
The Dziennik Dla Wszystkich, also known as the Everybody’s Daily, was a newspaper published in Buffalo, New York from 1911 through 1957. The paper contains many death notices of local Polish immigrants. These notices usually contained the person’s age, place of birth, as well as names of family members. While many volunteers have been associated with this project over the years, we must acknowledge our member Ed Kornowski for his continual dedication to this database. The Society has been indexing the death notices found in the Dziennik and currently has a database of over 30,000 death notices. Please be aware that this is an ongoing project and not all years have been indexed to date. Years completed in full are 1911-1941, with the exception of four months of 1913 (September-December).
Requests for our assistance to provide the information in this newspaper arrive on a regular basis. When a death notice is found, it is sent to requesters for $3.00 per notice for PGSNYS members and $5.00 per notice for all others. All funds collected are then used to support the ongoing costs of the project. The newspaper was published in the Polish language, therefore, the PGSNYS has drafted a reference guide for assistance with translating a newspaper article.
We collaborate and refer requests among the local research centers that hold the microfilm rolls of the Dziennik newspaper. However, the microfilms are beginning to become scratched and fragile from repetitive use. Digitization of the actual newspaper is imperative for preservation of this information. We are fortunate to have microfilmed copies of the Dziennik in several libraries in Western New York.
*1911-1957 The Buffalo History Museum (formerly The Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society)
*1930-1957 Buffalo & Erie County Public Library, Grosvenor Room, Lafayette Square, Buffalo, NY
*1930-1941 SUNY @ Buffalo, North Campus, Capen Library Multimedia Center, 2nd Floor, Amherst NY
*1930-1957 Buffalo State College, E.H. Butler Library
We have created another 20+ smaller surname indices that are now available via the search feature at our website at www.pgsnys.org. These include surname lists from funeral cards and Polish cemetery gravestone name indexing projects. While much smaller than the multi-year effort for the Dziennik newspaper, they are just as valuable to identify a name for someone who is searching for an ancestor.
PGSNYS is a member of the Federation of Genealogical Societies and the Polish-American Congress.
We also provide and monitor a Facebook page.