Presented in October
1995 - Poland/Lithuania Seminar at Balzekas Institute
How To Approach
Your Polish Genealogical Research Problem
Research in Poland and Lithuania
is really no harder than that of any other European country. Both countries
have excellent church records and civil registration that covers nearly
100% of the population.
- Determine who was the immigrant
- Determine the specific town
the ancestor came from.
- Find the ancestral home using
gazetteers and maps.
- Determine the record keeping
- Find the records.
The Grand Duchy of Lithuania
and the Kingdom of Poland unified under the Lublin agreement of 1569
to form a single state-the Commonwealth of Poland and Lithuania.
After 1795 Poland
no longer existed as a sovereign nation. It was divided between Prussia
(Germany), Austria, and Russia. In 1805 Napoleon's Empire acquired
parts of Poland and created the Duchy of Warsaw. After the defeat of
Napoleon, the Congress of Vienna redistributed the territories of former
Poland between Russia, Austria, and Prussia and created a the Kingdom
of Poland under the jurisdiction of Russia which consisted of most
of the former duchy. Thus the records of genealogical value differ
somewhat in each of these three areas.
Find The Ancestral Home And
Record Keeping Jurisdictions
To find the records needed to
search out the genealogy of your Polish ancestor, you must know both
his religion and the town where he lived since the most useful records
were kept locally by churches and synagogues. Gazetteers can provide
information about correct spelling of towns, what county or district
they were in, and the location of the parish, synagogue, or civil registration
office responsible for record keeping. Gazetteers are listed at the
end of this paper.
Find The Records
The necessary records may be
available through the Family History Library or it may be necessary
to write for information.
Poland – The
Family History Library has microfilm copies of many Polish church
records, civil transcripts of church records, and Jewish records
from towns in all areas of Poland. Records have also been acquired
from some towns in areas of former Galicia, Austria, which are now
in Ukraine. In most cases, privacy restrictions have prevented the
microfilming of records more recent than about 1875. Available records
are listed in the Family History Library Catalog under the name of
the town where they were produced. You can search the computer version
of the catalog without knowing the province. These records are listed
in the microfiche version of the catalog under POLAND, (PROVINCE),
(TOWN) - CHURCH RECORDS or JEWISH RECORDS. Some civil registration
records from the Prussian area starting in 1874 are available through
the Family History Library but in most cases no later than about
1880. These are listed in the Family History Library Catalog under
POLAND, (PROVINCE), (TOWN) - CIVIL REGISTRATION. Many church records,
Jewish records and civil registration records have not yet been microfilmed.
Recently the library has acquired Protestant and Old Believer Orthodox
records from Lithuania. These records do not appear in the 1995 edition
of the catalog but should appear in the next edition. The process
of microfilming, processing, and cataloging can sometimes take considerable
time. Because of this, it is not possible to provide you with access
to materials that are currently being filmed or that have been recently
filmed until they appear in our catalog. The catalog is updated approximately
every six months. If the materials you need are not listed in our
current catalog, periodically check newer editions of our catalog
as they become available at your family history center.
When The Records You Need Haven't
If the records you need have
not been filmed or do not cover the years you need, you can try to
obtain information by writing to or visiting record repositories in
Poland and Lithuania. The Polish Genealogical Society of America can
provide you with a "Polish Letter Writing Guide" for writing
to Catholic churches in Poland or you can write to the Polish State
Skr. Poczt. 1005
For Lithuanian research, if the
Family History Library doesn't have the records for the locality or
religion you need, write to the Lithuanian State Historical Archives
Gerosios Vilties, 10
Join a genealogical society for
the ethnic group your ancestor belonged to. There are several genealogical
societies and organization that can help with Polish, Lithuanian and
Jewish research. You should also seriously consider sharing what you
know about your Polish or Lithuanian family as well as information
about any procedures that have proven successful for you with these
organizations. The newsletters and journals of these societies are
always seeking good information to share with their members. The following
are the national organizations. There are also numerous local Polish
and Jewish genealogical societies.
Society of America
984 North Milwaukee Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60622
of Lithuanian Culture
Immigration History and Genealogy
6500 South Pulaski Road
Chicago, Illinois 60629
Uetrecht, E., comp. Meyers
Orts und Verkehrs - Lexikon des Deutschen Reichs [Meyer's gazetteer
and directory of the German Empire]. Leipzig: Bibliographisches Institut,
1912. (Family History Library call number: European Collection Ref.
943 E5mo; also on microfilm, Film 496640 - for places A-K, Film 496641
- for places L-Z; also on Fiche 6,000,001 - 6,000029)].
Towns are listed alphabetically.
This gazetteer is written in the old Gothic script. This gazetteer
gives the 1871–1918 political jurisdictions and indicates whether the
locality had its own parish or synagogue.
Gemeindelexikon fur das Konigreich
Preussen [Gazetteer for the Kingdom of Prussia]. Berlin: Verlag
des Koniglichen statistischen Landesamts, 1907-1909. (Family History
Library call number: European Collection Ref. 943 E5kp; also on microfilms
- Vol 1 Ostpreussen (Film
1186701 item 3)
- Vol 2 Westpreussen (Film
1186701 item 4)
- Vol 3 Brandenburg (Film
806635 item 1)
- Vol 4 Pommern (Film
806634 item 4)
- Vol 5 Posen (Film 806635
- Vol 6 Schlesien (Film
806633 item 4)
Each volume has an index at the
end listing in alphabetical order all localities in the province. In
the index, there are two numbers given after each place name. The first
number refers to the Kreis (district) to which the locality belonged.
These numbers can be found at the top of the page in the body of the
book. The second number refers to the town. Thus 21 17 refers to the
17th town listed in district 21. The parish is given in the columns
marked as Kirchspiel; Evangelisch (Lutheran) in column 25 and Katolisch
(Catholic) in column 26. Note: If the town in question is not listed
in column two, refer to the footnotes in the gazetteer.
Russian Empire (Including
localities now in Poland and in Lithuania)
Sulimierski, Filip, ed. Slownik
geograficzny krolestwa polskiego i innych krajow slowianskich [Geographical
dictionary of the Kingdom of Poland and other Slavic countries].
15 Vol. Warsaw: Sulimierski i Walewski, 1880-1902. (Family History
Library call number: European Collection 943.8 E5c; also on microfilm.)
Film numbers are as follows:
920,957 vol. 1 Aa-Dereneczna
920,967 vol. 11 Sochaczew-Szlurbowska Wola
920,958 vol. 2 Derenek-Gzack 920,968
vol. 12 Szlurpkiszki–Warlynka
920,959 vol. 3 Haag-Kepy 920,969
vol. 13 Warmbrunn–Worowo
920,960 vol. 4 Kes-Kutno
920,970 vol. 14 Worowo–zyzyn
920,961 vol. 5
Kutowa-Malczyce 920,971 vol. 15 Ababi–Januszowo
920,962 vol. 6
920,963 vol. 7
Netreba-Perepiat 920,972 vol.15 Januszpol–Sniatyn
920,964 vol. 8
920,965 vol. 9
920,966 vol. 10
Rukszenice-Sochaczew Arranged alphabetically
with text in Polish.
Gemeindelexikon der in Reichsrate
vertretenen Konigreiche und Lander [Gazetteer of the crownlands
and territories represented in the imperial council]. Vienna: K.K.
Statistisches Zentralkommission, 1903-1908. (Family History Library
call number: European Collection Ref Q 943.6 E5g; also on microfilm).
Film numbers are as follows:
- 1187927 item 2 Vol 11 Schlesien
- 1187928 item 1 Vol 12 Galizien
- 1187928 item 2 Vol 13 Bukowina
Based on the 1900 census. The
volume for each province is arranged by district with an index to both
German and local place names. If you do not find the town on the page
listed in the index check the footnotes. The parish or synagogue location
is not listed in the main text but is given in an appendix, located
between the main text and the index of each volume. The appendix is
arranged alphabetically by district and subdistrict. The parish and
synagogue are given in the last column: Standort der rom- kath.,
gr-kath. und isr. Matrikelstellen.
Sprogis, Ivan Jakovlevich. Indeks
alpfabetyczny miejscowosci dawnego wielkiego Ksiestwa Litewskiego [Alphabetical
Index of Localities of the Former Grand Duchy of Lithuania]. Vilnius,
1929. (on set of 37 microfiche, Family History Library number 6002146)
Text in Russian and Polish.
Poland between WW1 and WW2 (Including
areas now in Lithuania)
Bystrzycki, Tadeusz. Skorowidz
miejscowosci rzecrypospolitej polskiej [Listing of Localities
of the Polish Republic]. Przemysl: Wydawnictwa ksiaznicy naukowej,
1934. (Family History Library book 943.8 E5sm; also on microfilm
This is a gazetteer of the early
republic of Poland as it existed from 1918 to 1939. Poland at that
time extended far into the east, including areas which after World
War II were ceded to the Soviet republics of Lithuania, Belorussia,
and the Ukraine. These are areas which had a substantial Jewish population.
This is the most accurate gazetteer available for that territory. It
is arranged alphabetically with information in columns. Localities
are listed alphabetically down the page in the first column. Township,
district, province (voivodship), post office, railway station, bus
station, local and regional courts, and Christian parish for the locality
are listed in successive columns to the right. The nearest synagogue
is not listed.
Spis Miejscowosci Polskiej
Rzeczypospolitej Ludowej [Gazetteer of Polish People's Republic
Localities]. Warsaw: Wydawnictwa komunikacj i lacznosci. 1968. (Family
History Library call number: European Collection Ref. 943.8 E5s;
also on microfilm 844922).
Localities are listed alphabetically
down the page in the first column. Township, district, province (voivodship),
post office, railway station and vital records office for the locality
are listed in successive columns to the right.