Jewish Records Indexing -Poland (JRI-Poland) has introduced a new tool to their web site called the Surname Distribution Mapper.
[It is] designed to help genealogy researchers graphically understand where their family names first appeared in the 19th century records and visualize how the family spread throughout Poland into the first part of the 20th century.
Using modern mapping technology provided by Google Maps, the Surname Distribution Mapper allows users to graphically display their search results using a tree icon… By running the cursor over each tree icon, a user can view a popup window displaying the number of vital record entries found in various towns in the JRI-Poland database. Clicking on the balloon brings the user to the familiar JRI-Poland search results for detailed viewing of a town’s entries.
Additionally, and especially exciting for researchers, the Surname Distribution Mapper can display results for specific decades or in a “progressive mode,” where tree icons appear successively by decade to give the researcher an idea of the movement of their family around Poland and the Western Ukraine.
After reading the press release, I realized that there was more to this than I’d originally noticed. As before, from the JRI-Poland home page (link at the top of this post), you go to “Search the Database”. Near the top of that page, click on the text below “Surname Distribution Mapper”. Type in your surname and click on “Map”. Then be a little patient; it’s not instantaneous.
The results will be a map of Poland overlaid with trees, the sizes of the trees indicating the number of records for each location. It uses the Beider-Morse Phonetic Matching. For my own Mularzewicz family, this works great, as there are a few spelling variations in the records/transcriptions. Unfortunately, my Szleper name, while focused on Kalisz correctly, also focused on L’viv and the name Szlimper, which I consider a false match.
You can zoom into the map if the trees are too condensed. Moving your mouse over each tree will show a pop-up of the city/town name and the number of records with that name, including a link to see those hits in the usual table format of the site.
The feature I hadn’t noticed before is the “Time Period” menu just below where you enter the surname. You can choose one decade at a time to see where the name first appeared and then watch it spread out over time. It beings with “All” time as the default.
There are a couple of minor limitations. This is searching the JRI-Poland database, which anyone who has used it as much as I have knows that not every vital event was recorded. If an event was recorded in a different town from where it took place, it will show up where recorded, even if the JRI-Poland listing specifies the town name. For instance, many of those Lomza hits for Mularzewicz actually took place in Rutki, but because the two locations are relatively close, the mapping information is still useful.
The search includes all of the JRI-Poland data, including any census records, books of residents, or other material, along with the vital records of birth, marriage, and death.
The Surname Distribution Mapper is a useful addition to the JRI-Poland database. Instead of searching through the results for each gubernia, or trying to find the towns on the map to determine their proximity, this new tool shows where the surname can be found on the map for you. And the additional “progressive mode” helps you track the surname over time. Before now, I had no idea the first sighting of Mularzewicz in the records was in Sniadowo.
Stanley Diamond, the Executive Director of JRI-Poland, forwarded the press release to us. Any opinions expressed in this blog post are that of the author and not the society.