I am interested in researching my family tree. I have an unusual surname. Kaczanow. Any ideas?

+3 votes
asked in Genealogy Help by
How to start depends on your family's nationality/location. If in the US......Can start with local archives/state library if you can get to them. Online, in addition to wikitree, there are several good free sources. A few are the states genweb, familysearch.org, rootsweb, or you can google your family and sometimes find available info that has been put online.

This is just a part of what is available, but I hope it helps. If you are in another country please write reply. There are experts here in the tree who can help you.


Holly Battle
Many thanks for your reply!

I am English but live in Poland.

My grandfather was Polish and his Father was white Russian, what ever that means. My Polish family think  that he was born in Belarus, but they are old and easily confused and my Polish is terrible, so it is our best guess :-)

I know my great grandfathers name and date of birth/death/marriage and so on but we have very little infomation on him and I have no clue where to start looking! Luckily Kaczanow seems to be a very unusual name. I have doone google searches but have only come up with my existing family members :-)
"White Russia" is actually the English translation of Belarus!  So that is what that means.

Belarus is immediately to the east of present-day Poland, which until the end of WWII, had borders a couple of hundred miles east of where they are now in 2015.  Byelorussians are ethnically Slavic, and stand midway between Russians and Poles in the Slavic ethnic tree, and would also be closely-related to Ukrainians.  Byelorussia (it's self-appellation today) was not actually a political nation until 1991.  It was one of the 16 Soviet Republics of the USSR though.  The territory of this ethnicity was part of Russia until then, though the borders were moved after WWII as I mentioned.  Byelorussian is a seperate language, probably close both to Russian and to Polish.

     I think your Polish family has given you as good a start as you could get.  English sources on this area are few and far between, so you had better brush up on that Polish, and read up on the histories of the nations listed above.  You should try to establish what city or area your Belarus great-grandfather is from (by asking your Polish family), and go from there.  Good luck!

2 Answers

+2 votes
I just entered your surname into the Ancestry.com search engine & came up with many records. I would suggest using any of the methods Holly suggested as a starting point.
answered by Doug Lockwood G2G Astronaut (2.4m points)
Many thanks for you help :-)
+3 votes

Having the unusual surname might help except that there will probably be multiple spellings, look for alternate spellings that sound like your name. Use the "Soundex" searches if they are available. Also the borders of Poland changed frequently in history, so you think you're in Poland, but discover that it's Austria or Russia or somewhere else.

Look up White Russia in wikipedia for an explanation of white russian


answered by Anne B G2G Astronaut (1m points)
Many thanks for the advice :-)

I took a quick look at the mentor page.....You might want to send a note to Rhian Geleick. Her notes indicate she is expert with beginning genealogy research and European region.
Thank you Holly :-)

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