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Polish Genealogy – Research Resources & Tips

Researching Polish genealogy can be quite daunting… websites are often only in Polish, documents in the archives are not only handwritten and damaged but often in Latin, German or Russian depending on the period in history of Poland. Tracing places can be a challenge as well due to constant border changes, your ancestors’ papers could state country of origin other than Poland, it could say: Russia, Prussia, Austria or Galicia. Additionally cities could be renamed, for instant Poznań would be Posen, Wrocław – Breslau and Warsaw – Warschau.

If you are lucky scanned records of your ancestors can be tracked down in free online archives and if you are a bit less lucky, you may need to be contacting parishes directly and asking them to find documents for you (in this case there may be service charges).

Unlike UK or US records, not many Polish documents are actually available in popular paid genealogy services such as Ancestry or MyHeritage. On the other hand Mormon church archives at Family Search include quite a few European records.

After taking my DNA test I got plenty Jewish matches which was no surprise to me. I knew that I must have some Jewish roots but I was looking at the wrong side of the family all along. It turned out that my Ashkenazi blood came from my paternal family with aristocratic roots: Polish and Lithuanian nobility. Moreover I found German, Dutch, Czech (Bohemian), Scandinavian ancestors and possibly Vlachs as well. And on my maternal side there were Volga Tatars and Belarusians. There are also some things I can’t explain yet, like the tiny percent of Irish and Papua New Guinean blood in me… I may never find out but if I will, I will make sure to post about it.

Below you can find couple of links to the websites I found handy while doing my research and if you are curious you can take a look at my EuroCaribbean Family Tree website (still under construction).

AGAD – Archiwum Główne Akt Dawnych w Warszawie (The Central Archives of Historical Records in Warsaw), their Szukaj w Archiwach – Polish archival resources and other scans online

Ahnenblatt – great free (GEDCOM format compatible) software that supports Polish language

Family Search – worldwide archives including some Polish records as well and their catalog search tool

FORGEN – forum genealogiczne / genealogy forum

Genealodzy.PL – Polish Genealogy Society and their Geneteka (online archives) and metryki (parish records)

Genealogia w Archiwach – genealogy archive

GENPOL – Genealogia Polska

IPN and their Indeks Represjonowanych (Index of Victims).

JRI – searchable Database of Indexes to Jewish Records of Poland

Metryki Wołyń – indexes not only from Volhynia, but also other places that used to belong to Russian Empire, including Tbilisi, Georgia – search tool is here

Parish Records in Russian – Zofia’s Fedorowicz guide on how to read them

Polish Genealogy group on Facebook

Polish Origins forum – Lista Prześladowanych (list of persecuted people)

Topographic Maps of Eastern Europe – maps showing territories of Galicia, Prussia etc.

Wielka Genealogia Minakowskiego – Genealogia Potomków Sejmu Wielkiego (Genealogy of The Great Sejm Descendants)

If there are any other (preferably free) online resources of Polish records we would love to hear about them! Leave a comment and we will add them to the list.

Image: © Margot Dolewska Dyer – 416 Studios

4 Responses

  1. One day I hope to start on it too. I tried to research the history of my family when I was at the uni and came across someone who has a book written about my dad’s side – I will show it to you once, it’s fascinating. I really need to find time to scan it in or type it up as many Korsaks would benefit from that research. I think for kids it is really important nowadays to know their roots.

    I also have a book from on the roots of American Korsaks – not sure if they are still doing it but they used to pull out a lot of information and send it out as a small book.

  2. I can`t wait… I would love to hear about your family history! 🙂

    You are right, it is very important for kids to know their roots and to be proud of them.
    My girls are “the whole world” as the little one is always saying and I’m glad they are aware of their roots, even if there are some I can’t explain just yet…

  3. Karusia

    Thank you for creating this resource. Both my parents are Polish and I can trace my mother’s line easily online. My father’s is proving difficult. I will check out your tips. In the meantime, do you know of records for Polish soldiers in WW2 who fought in Montecassino with General Anders?

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