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Jul 21

Employing Geospatial Genealogy to Reveal Residential and Kinship Patterns in a Pre-Holocaust Ukrainian Village


Representing Knowledge in the Digital Humanities (Saturday, September 24, 2011)
Conference Schedule


Egbert, Stephen. Department of Geography, University of Kansas; Roekard, Karen. Independent Scholar

Title: Employing Geospatial Genealogy to Reveal Residential and Kinship Patterns in a Pre-Holocaust Ukrainian Village

Abstract: By incorporating data from a variety of historical records into geographic information systems (GIS), we are conducting research into visualizing what can be learned about residential and kinship patterns in the mixed-ethnic settlements of pre-Holocaust Eastern Europe. We have termed this process – the linkage of records traditionally used for family history research with GIS –“geospatial genealogy.” Our prototype is the town of Rawa Ruska, Ukraine, located on the Rata River near the Polish border. It was founded in the mid-fifteenth century and was a “mixed” town of Jews, Poles, and Ukrainians. Over time its governance shifted among Austria-Hungary, Poland, Nazi Germany, the USSR, and now Ukraine. During WWII the Jews of Rawa Ruska were murdered in various “actions” at nearby mass gravesites or gassed at the Belzec extermination camp, 14 kilometers away. Our reconstruction, based on an 1854 cadastral map, utilizes house numbers listed on the map and cross-references them as they are used elsewhere, e.g. in vital records, tax and residence rolls, Tabula register contracts, etc. from the late 1700s to the early 1900s. Thus, they provide a key link in establishing spatial patterns. Mapping residence patterns permits, for example, the examination of clustering or dispersion over time by ethnic group and relative wealth, or the degree of clustering around focal points such as the town square or places of worship.

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