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 matches with Jewish sounding surnames 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. With help of Jewish genealogy sites, it turned out that my Jewish blood came from my paternal family with aristocratic roots: Polish and Lithuanian nobility. Moreover I found German, Czech, 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 Irish 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).
Ahnenblatt – great free (GEDCOM format compatible) software that supports Polish language.
FORGEN – forum genealogiczne / genealogy forum.
JRI – Searchable Database of Indexes to Jewish Records of Poland.
Parish Records in Russian – Zofia’s Fedorowicz guide on how to read them.
Polish Genealogy group on Facebook.
Polish Origins forum.
Straty.pl – Lista Prześladowanych (list of persecuted people).
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.