Where is Galicia?

Galicia as a geopolitical entity was created in 1772 with the establishment of the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria, the Habsburg Monarchy’s (later the Austrian Empire’s) easternmost crownland. The capital of the province was Lemberg (today Lviv). A century and a half later, in 1918, Galicia was wiped from the world’s maps, with the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The borders of Galicia changed throughout the years. In 1795, in the Third Partition of Poland, West Galicia (also called New Galicia), which included the districts of Kraków, Lublin, Chełm, was created and merged with Galicia in 1803. These districts, along with a small sliver of the  original Galicia, including the district of Zamość, were annexed to the Grand Duchy of Warsaw in 1809. Later, West Galicia referred to only the territory just west of Jarosław through the territory around Kraków.

The regions of Tarnopol (Ternopil) were included in the original formation of Galicia, but in 1809 they were ceded to the Russian Empire. During the Congress of Vienna (1814–1815), Austria gained back these regions.

In 1815, Kraków gained the status of a free city (The Free City of Cracow) and remained so until after the Polish uprising of 1846, when it was incorporated into Galicia as the Grand Duchy of Cracow.

Bukovina was formally annexed to the Austrian Empire in 1775 as part of Galicia. In 1849, Bukovina became a separate Austrian crownland, with its capital at Czernowitz (Chernivtsi).

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How do I know if my Ancestor is from Galicia?

Before you can start your research in this part of today’s Poland or Ukraine, you must know what village or parish your ancestor(s) came from.

The first clue for knowing if your ancestor is from Galicia is by looking at US Census records. If the Census indicates they are “Austrian” but spoke “Polish”, there is a high probability your ancestor is from Galicia. Many Galicians that lived in today’s Ukraine may have been identified as “Ruthenian” rather than “Polish”.

You may find the village of origin on naturalization paperwork, a US church marriage record, or the passenger manifest. Additionally, you may have letters, family stories, and lore already – be sure to check each and every source.

Start Your Galician Research

Factors such as these (progressively smaller land holdings) drove people from the poor pasture and woodlands near the villages of Rabka and Jordanów and the town of Nowy Targ in Podhale in the foothills of the Carpathians. For $45-$60 they might travel as far as Minnesota. Northeast Minneapolis was their principal destination, particularly at the turn of the century.

Frank Renkiewicz, They Chose Minnesota