Where is a person from Russia-Poland actually from?

+17 votes
I am working on a profile for a man who initially appeared to be from Russia. I just discovered he was actually from Russia-Poland, or in other words, an area of Poland under Russian rule at the time of his birth. What do we list as his birth place in the person's profile? Thanks for clarifying this for me.
WikiTree profile: Max Marcus
in Policy and Style by Julie Mangano G2G6 (8.5k points)
retagged by Maggie N.
I'm having a similar issue. I have siblings- one from Russia-Poland and one that says German-Polish. I only have the German one on here as "Germany" because some census records simply listed Germany, and I added her before I ran across the German-Polish record. That branch one of the areas I'm focused on right now. I'm leaning toward marking them as Poland because I know the family identifies as Polish, not German or Russian.
I could see choosing Russia, due to the fact that it WAS Russia at the time, but I can also see Poland if the family considered themselves Polish, as there were resistances to Russian rule  ( see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/January_Uprising in 1863)

My branch has always considered themselves Polish, even though we don't know much ancestry before immigration to the US around 1860-1880, even though there wasn't a Polish state in the 1800's.

I'd be interested in other opinions for how to properly write it. While there can be notes in the description, differing countries may lead to duplicate profiles and missing out on an oppertunity to link to other family.

I would suggest also considering if they were Polish living in Galicia, Austro-Hungarian Empire which was predominantly Polish and Ukrainian ethnicity.  If you know the name of the village where they are from, this page can help you:.  Wikitree page for Galicia.

11 Answers

+20 votes
Best answer

Probably Congress Poland:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congress_Poland

Its boundaries included parts of modern Lithuania and Belarus. Hopefully you'll eventually narrow the birthplace down a bit.

Prussia had its own, different, part of Poland.

by Living Tardy G2G6 Pilot (776k points)
selected by Sharon Flax Waddington
Congress Poland only existed from 1815-1915. Eastern Poland had been part of the Russian Empire since 1795.
The person in the question was born about 1866.
Thanks for the star, Sharon!
+15 votes
by Robynne Lozier G2G Astronaut (1.3m points)
Prussia is not Russia-Poland. Prussia is a historically German state which was absorbed into the Soviet Union after WW2.

Poland was dissolved during the Third Partition of Poland in 1795, and it's territories split between Russia, Prussia, and Austria. Poland officially did not exist for 123 years. I suppose for the birth place of someone born during that period, we might have it as "City Name, Russian Empire"?
There should probably be the equivalent of a county and province in the location name.

The David Rumsey Map Collection might be helpful.
The rebellion in 1830 caused a brief existence of a Polish state again.  Also, I believe it existed after 1795, but just not as an independent state.  (One of my ancestors was a "cadet" in 1830 and took part in the rebellion, and fled with many other Poles after the rebellion was crushed - most went to France; my ancestor (Szarlowski Moro Phillips) went to Boston and then to New Orleans & Galveston.
+15 votes
I would note the contemporary Russian location (ie, the Russian place name), and note the modern Polish location (ie, the current Polish place name).
by George Fulton G2G6 Pilot (684k points)
+19 votes

I have added another layer to the location names in these cases, so that I can properly name the country and also indicate that it was politically part of Russia - example:

     City, County, Poland, Russian Empire

Of course, I would state this in whatever language is most likely to have been in use by the local people at the time - for some it might be Polish and for others it would have been Russian.

For an example, see my great grandfather's profile.

by Gaile Connolly G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
+10 votes
Like Gail did, it's important to pay attention to the language columns in the various U.S. census ("mother tongue, native language, "language spoken").

In your particular case of Max Marcus, I would put the Poland or the Polish village for research purposes. You want to zero in on more records in the area for his birthplace (when you find it).
by Maggie N. G2G Astronaut (1.3m points)
+11 votes
By the way, your Max Marcus was naturalized! You will find his place of birth, his actual birthday, marriage data in his petitions for naturalization records as well as the final naturalization records. You would contact the courthouse in his residential county for them. Good luck!
by Maggie N. G2G Astronaut (1.3m points)
+9 votes

Have look at the above link - it covers  a lot of  persons from Russia & surround areas who served with the Australian Forces During WW1



Cheers Ross Geissmann (Australia)
by Ross Geissmann G2G6 Mach 3 (30.6k points)
+8 votes
Great link, Ross. Thanks.
by Maggie N. G2G Astronaut (1.3m points)
+9 votes

This is a typically complicated case.   The name Max Marcus is a common kinnui (Yiddish for "secular" name).  Additional family history could establish which specific individual is involved.

However, I would note the following:  a Max Marcus, born 1867 in Grodno, Belarus arrived 2 July 1895 at New York.  Another, born the same year arrived at New York 1 October 1889 from Odessa. Among the many others was a Max Marcus who left from Hamburg on 19 August 1885 from Gilgenburg, East Prussia.

The Gilgenburg case is interesting:  it is now called Dąbrówno in Poland, but is located within the historic region of Masuria, East Prussian territory at the time.  However, this wasn't Russia Poland, it was Germany,  

Odessa was a point of departure for those from primarily Bessarabia (now Moldova).  This was Russia, not Russia Poland in the 19th century.  

However, Grodno (modern Hradna in Belarus) would be considered Russia Poland.  Called White Russia, it had a large Polish population and had been part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.  

So, one might check the Russian Revision lists if that was in fact the origin of the individual in question.   Max is simply an anglicized variant of Marcus:  in Yiddish this would most likely have been Mordtke.   As a surname, the Revision Lists have three different families named Markus registered in Grodno in 1857.  The immigrant mentioned above wouldn't appear in this record:  he was born later (1867).

Usually, we can figure out which family is involved by finding his father's name.  

That would be the procedure here.   Of course, there were many other Max Marcus' in the records from this general region, so before stipulating where he was actually from, one would first have to make a likely identification.   

In general though, immigration authorities regarded Russia Poland as "Russia" if the immigrant was Jewish, "Poland" if Polish, and "Germany" if German.   That is, for most people, ethnicity trumped political boundaries (which shifted a lot anyway).   Not so for the immigrant, however.  Traditional categories and current polities counted more.   

by Louis Lome G2G1 (1.0k points)
Interesting read, thanks Louis!
Thanks Louis. Your comment is very well written and educational.
+7 votes

Russia-Poland = Congress Poland

German-Poland or Prussia-Poland = Prussia

Austria-Poland = Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria


by Skye Sonczalla G2G6 Pilot (110k points)
+6 votes
I have this issue with the majority of my ancestors… half my ancestry is Polish, 25% is Slovenian, and about 6% is French (from the Alsace-Lorraine region, naturally!). My Polish forebears never considered themselves German or Prussian; my Slovenian forebears never considered themselves Austrian or Yugoslavian, and my French forebears never considered themselves German. All of this is true despite the vagaries of the political boundaries at the times they were living in these regions. I believe it’s of great importance, when documenting heritage, to primarily recognize the ancestor’s cultural nationality (I think I just made up that term). ;-)  While it’s important to accurately note the geographic location of the event (birth, death, etc), I feel it’s equally important (perhaps more so) to preserve their cultural identity in our documentation. So the ancestor in question is most likely a Polish person who happened to be in a place Russia was occupying at the time of said event. It’s important to not allow historical pillaging to discount or steal a person’s cultural identity. I like how some of the ship manifests list “Nationality” vs “Race or People.” That kind of sums it all up for me.
by Leslie Duszynski G2G5 (5.7k points)

Related questions

+7 votes
0 answers
+5 votes
3 answers
382 views asked Aug 27, 2019 in Genealogy Help by Krys Feyen G2G6 Mach 1 (13.5k points)
+5 votes
4 answers
5.1k views asked Nov 21, 2012 in Genealogy Help by Dan Thompson G2G6 Mach 2 (24.7k points)
+8 votes
3 answers
+2 votes
1 answer

WikiTree  ~  About  ~  Help Help  ~  Search Person Search  ~  Surname:

disclaimer - terms - copyright