The Value of the Documents of the PUR
Too often, we as genealogists rely solely on vital records, the certificates
documenting birth, marriage and death. Although this part of our research is
most helpful, we sometimes neglect other types of documents. As genealogists, we
should continually search for new resources to help in our pursuit of family
history. We may need to track siblings and cousins of our direct ancestors who
remained in Poland. Sometimes church records are not available to us for certain
years, especially for the past 100 years. Perhaps we are searching for our
family members lost after years of war and political upheaval.
The post-war records of PUR can be extremely useful in such research.
And for researchers of the regions of the Eastern Lands now no longer within
Polish borders, the so-called zabużanski
region, or "region beyond the Bug River, the PUR Collection is vital to
For Polish families of the Kresy, the forced migration
due to the national border changes made after WWII was a painful and important
event. A family could have lived in a certain village or region for centuries,
only to be suddenly moved hundreds of miles to a new home in a strange land.
Suddenly changed was centuries old way of life and customs. For such families,
an entire ancestral heritage was changed. Once such families were mixed with
neighboring ethnic Ukrainians, Belarusians or Lithuanians. Now, after moving to
and spreading out in the western and northern Polish provinces, those
connections are no longer continued. While visiting my relatives in the
small village Skrzypnik, in Oława powiat, located
about 30 kilometers southeast of Wrocław, I
could still hear this connection with the language of the older people, which is
filled with Ukrainian words and colorful rhythm...evidence of close ties with neighboring
Ukrainians where they lived before WWII, in a village called Usznia, located
about 600 kilometers to the east in Ukraine (about 60 kilometers east of Lwów).
Also lost is the familial connections between ethnic Poles of
neighboring villages in the Eastern Territories, but which now found themselves
miles apart in the new western provinces. I use my own family as example. My
maternal family comes predominately from two neighboring villages, Czeremosznia
and Usznia. These villages are right next to each other about 120 kilometers
inside the Ukrainian border. After WWII, most families from the village of
Czeremosznia resettled in and around Kurznie, Popielów powiat in Opole
województwo, while most families from
Usznia settled in and around Domaniów, Oława,
powiat in Dolnośląskie
województwo. Although most of the older residents
of these villages today know about the existence of each other, there is no
longer an ancestral tradition uniting the families for the future. Once families
from these two villages in the eastern territories intertwined and intermarried.
Today, due to about a 10 kilometer distance between the two villages in
southwestern Poland, the families are no longer closely connected. This
situation is made more difficult by the fact that not everyone from one village
resettled to the same village in the western territories.
Though there may be some predominant places, families moved
and spread out all over western and northern Poland. To understand why families
relocated and where to find important records, we must first know a little