The WZBR Book - FAQ

Search Terms

Why are no births returned when I do a surname search?

We transcribed the records as they appear in the book, and in the book the "name" column contains only the first name of the newborn. If you want to search births by surname, turn off the "subject name only" option.

There is also a list of most of the surnames in the database.

What date formats can I use?

Try anything! If the program doesn't understand your date, it will tell you when you try to search. When you enter a date, the program will guess at what you mean and if it understands it will translate your date to the format yyyy-mm-dd. (This feature won't work if you have Javascript turned off. If you have Javascript turned on, clicking here should pop up a short message, otherwise it will do nothing.)

The program always understands dates in the format yyyy-mm-dd. Note that you need to pad single digit numbers with zeroes, like so: 1867-01-09. I chose yyyy-mm-dd because it is the international standard.

Search Results

Why are the column headings so cryptic?

The column headings are cryptic to conserve space. These results are very cramped width-wise, so I didn't want to waste space if I could avoid it. For instance, the column labeled "M/F" would be better labeled "Gender" but that would force that column to be as wide as the word "Gender" even though it only contains the letters M or F. Once you've had the headings explained (see below), they should not be hard to remember.

What do the column headings like "H#" and "W?" mean?

Name is, in the case of a birth record, the name (usually only the first name) of the child born. Occasionally there is a death date written in the name column too, usually if the subject died shortly after birth. In the case of a death record, name refers to the full name of the deceased. Married/widowed women are usually listed with their birth surnames, not their husband's surname.

H# stands for house number.

Date is the date the birth, marriage or death occurred. Most (all?) birth records contain both birth and baptism dates. We didn't record the baptism dates. Usually the child was baptised a couple of days after birth. Similary, death records have both the date of death and the burial date but the burial dates are not recorded in this database.

M/F stands for Male/Female. Gender would be a better heading for this column.

Leg stands for legitimate.

W? stands for "Widow?" or "Widower?"

Father is the father of the subject. In birth records, the columns G-father and G-mother to the immediate right of the father refer to the father's parents. Fathers are (almost?) never listed for illegitimate children.

Mother is the mother of the subject. In birth records, the columns G-father and G-mother to the immediate right refer to the mother's parents.

From indicates where the event's participants lived. The priest was often a bit vague about this and tended to scribble this information in a single word that crossed two or more columns as in the example below where ex Zboiska starts in one column and ends in another.

The phrase "ex Zboiska" stretches across two columns.

Why is my grandfather named Joan?

There's a lot of guys in here with a name we couldn't make out very well, but it is Joan or Ioan, also spelled Joannes/Ioannes. They (along with Ivan/Iwan) are all variations on "John".

The birth record of Joanes, or is that Ivanus?
It is hard to tell if this is meant to be Joanes or Ivanus; fortunately they amount to the same thing.

Why does my ancestor's name have different combinations of letters on the end?

In Polish, nouns take different endings based on their usage in a sentence. Gender also comes into play. Can you tell I don't really know what I talking about? =) Anyway, a name like "Kot" can also appear as Kotowa. Don't worry about this too much; a search for "Kot" will also find "Kotowa" and other variations. In fact it is a good idea to search for just a portion of your ancestor's name as long as that doesn't result in too many false results. Searching for potions of a name reduces the chance that you'll miss a name due to a spelling variation. For instance, the name "Tynyk" also appears as "Tynik"; a search for "tyn" finds both versions.

Why does my ancestor's name vary across records?

The priest was transliterating these records from Cyrillic to a sort of Polonized Latin. He was not always consistent. For instance, my great-grandfather (who would have been called Gregory in English) appears in this book as Hreorij, Gregorii, Hrehorius and Hryc, the last one being a nickname rather than a proper name.

Why are some of these records so hard to read?

Poor photography is sometimes to blame for which the photographer offers humble apologies. Also, the priest's handwriting gets pretty shaky in the late 1870s and 1880s and he starts making more mistakes. My guess is that he was getting pretty old.

What does it mean to bookmark results?

Your search terms are reflected in the URL of the search results, so returning to that URL will produce the same results over and over. This has several practical benefits. One is that you can save a search in order to review the results later. Another is that you can copy the text from the address bar and email that link to someone else. When the recipient clicks on the link, she'll see the same results. For instance, if you copy and paste the URL below into your browser's address bar and hit enter, you will see the search results for everything that went on in my grandfather's house, number 33:

Users of Internet Explorer might know "bookmarking" as "adding to favorites".

Why is my ancestor's marriage recorded twice?

Good question. Only the priest knows, and he ain't talking. We found that a couple of pages of marriages are duplicates of one another which is no big deal. What is bothersome is that the information differs slightly between the two versions. Here is a list of the duplicated records.

< == Duplicates ==>
Page, RecordPage, Record
076, 1 084, 1
076, 2 084, 2
076, 3 084, 3
076, 4 084, 4
076, 5 084, 5
076, 6 084, 6
085, 11 098, 2
085, 12 098, 3
085, 13 098, 4
085, 14 098, 5


Are these records accurate?

If by "accurate" you mean "perfect" then the answer is "no". The longer answer is that we (the volunteers and I) have done what is reasonable to enhance accuracy, but we hand-typed over 10,000 pieces of data and in doing so almost certainly introduced errors. In addition the priest himself entered a number of duplicate records with conflicting information. Also, I think these records are a hand-made copy of the original church book (there were usually two copies made of each original) and the priest could have introduced errors while copying. Furthermore, it's perhaps not fun to think about, but do you believe that every birth record has the true biological father recorded? I feel certain that there's a few cases where Anastasia dallied in the woodshed with Michael while she was married to Ivan and even the mother wasn't sure who the father was. And then there's the fact that people's correct true age may have not been known at the time of their death, etc.

Like all genealogical records, the information here needs to be cross checked when possible.

What should I do if I find a mistake?

By all means, let me know. I want to make this database accurate.


What does WZBR stand for?

WZBR is the acronym for the four villages covered by the book: Wolica, Zboiska, Bełchowka and Ratnawica. At the time these records were created, this villages comprised the parish of Wolica.

Where does the information in this database come from?

The civil archive in Bukowsko, Poland contains a number of church record books. In 2002 I came into possession of photographic copy of the birth, marriage and death records for the parish of Wolica (including Zboiska, Bełchowka and Ratnawica) for the years 1867 - 1884. Through the efforts of some volunteers, we transcribed these records into computer files and I turned those files into this database.

Who are the volunteers?

They are Mary Ache (who transcribed as many pages as the rest of us combined!), Carol Erlam, Debbie Greenlee, and Gloria. I would also like to thank BD for his thumbs.

Can I get a copy of this data?

Certainly, provided you don't do anything unscrupulous like trying to pass it off as your own. See the page about copying.

In what language are these records written?

Latin, with a Polish influence. Only one character specific to the Polish alphabet pops up in these records; it is the letter Ł which makes a sound like W in English. For example, the name Bryła sounds like "Breewa". It is difficult, in handwriting, to distinguish a lower case t from ł because they look like the same letter. The author of this book often distinguishes the two by putting the cross slash for ł at the very top of the vertical bar, whereas for a t the cross bar is lower. The sample to the right shows the ł in the names Bryła and Biłas. The distinction is subtle and not consistent throughout the book.

The full record shown in the picture reads as follows.
Left column: "Gregorius Bonczak f. [filius, son of] Joanis Bonczak et Katar. Bryła".
Right column: "Anna Mazur f. [filia, daughter of] Simeonis M: et Anno Biłas"

What was the priest's name?

Silvester Miejski.

What software did you use to create this?

This site was created entirely with free, open source software with the exception of using MS Word to open a half-dozen Word Perfect documents. I used OpenOffice to open and edit the documents that my volunteers emailed to me. I manipulated the files as text using Java and Ant and developed the Web site under Linux using Apache and PHP. JEdit was my editor for the Java, HTML and PHP. Mozilla is the only browser I use, but I did test a little with IE for the sake of those who linger in popup prison.

Oh come on, do you really think anyone cares what software you used?

I do.