Antoni Schneider collection at PSA Krakow (Wawel castle branch) #galicia

Russ Maurer

Antoni Schneider (1825-1880) is one of the more colorful, if obscure,
figures of Galician history. Largely self taught, he fought with the
Hungarians against the Hapsburgs in 1848 and was jailed for it. Later
he renounced revolution and joined the Hapsburg bureaucracy, working
in the road service and traveling all over Galicia. He fancied himself an
historian and became an obsessive and prolific, if indiscriminate,
collector of Galiciana. His delusional dream was to write a definitive
encyclopedia of Galicia - a project which only got as far as the "B"
volume. Although his project failed, he donated his collection of
materials to the Polish Academy of Learning in Krakow, which later
transferred it to the Polish State Archives. Today, the collection resides
at the PSA branch at Wawel Castle, Krakow. Because none of it has
been put online, not even a basic index, the collection is little known
and seldom used by genealogists. Yet it certainly contains items of
genealogical interest.

During a recent stay in Krakow, I was able to spend a couple of
half-days exploring this collection. Jakub Czuprynski, the
Krakow-based genealogist who first told me about the collection,
advised that an index was available at the archive. When I looked at
the index, I found the collection consisted of 1876 files. Many of the file
names were locales big and small, such as Aksmanice; others were
topical (Adwokaci - lawyers); still others were just an alphabetical code
or code range (Ab, or Ana-Andr). There was little or nothing to indicate
what any file might contain more specifically. I was pleasantly surprised
to see that entire files were devoted to two of my towns, Jodlowa and
Chyrow, and five files (!) were devoted to Gorlice. I also found some
material for Frysztak within the file labeled Fro-Fu.

The files themselves proved to be bundles, generally three or four
inches thick, containing hundreds, if not more, mostly loose sheets of
every variety. There was no discernible organization, one simply had
to leaf through and keep an eye open for anything interesting. As my
foreign language skills are limited, much was incomprehensible. But,
having previously worked with property lists (>from cadastral surveys),
I recognized some lists that looked rather similar. They proved to be
lists of residents eligible to vote in elections for the Sejm (Galician
parliament). I found at least one, and sometimes several, such lists in
every town file I investigated. The years were 1863-1870. I found the
names of two of my great great grandfathers in the lists for Jodlowa
and Chyrow, and - bonus - was rewarded with the house numbers
where they lived at that time. Time well-spent for me.

While there, I took many photographs, including photographs of the
entire index. I have assembled the index images into a pdf which I am
happy to make available. I hope my experience will entice others to
look at the index and consider hiring a researcher to see what's there
for you (if you can't get to Krakow yourself). The link to the index

Russ Maurer
Pepper Pike, Ohio

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