This is a lecture on researching your Polish-Jewish ancestry. The following 100 slides accompany the presentation first given at the 19th Seminar on Jewish Genealogy, New York, August 1999, by Warren Blatt.
There are many myths about tracing Jewish roots in Poland, such as “All the records were destroyed”, “They never kept any records”, “The town no longer exists”, “The town was wiped off the map”, “They changed our name at Ellis Island”, and so on.
All of these are myths. They certainly did keep records -- better than American records, in many cases. Millions of these records still exist. Yes, some records were destroyed, but the majority of records have survived. The towns still exist -- There are no Jews there today, but the towns themselves most certainly do still exist.
My four grandparents came from four different gubernias — different parts of Russian Poland. I've been able to trace the families of six of eight of my great-grandparents back to the 1700s. There is no one famous in my family -- no rabbis, no one wealthy... they were tailors, shoemakers, farmers and craftsmen... But I have found hundreds of documents regarding my family... and you can too.