Local web sources for the genealogy in Poland
English-speaking researcher often has to face the wall of the language barrier in the begging of their genealogical survey in Poland. However it is very difficult for the non-Polish speakers to search the sources available online in Poland the local institutions has provided you with a few helpful tools to search the data collected by the National Archives and other sources as well. You have to remember of course that a lot of Poles emigrated from their homeland while it was occupied by the three neighboring countries in the 19th century. It is therefore very likely for your ancestors’s documents to be written in Russian or German, and yet only a minor percentage of the whole database was digitalized. But the key thing here is that you can at least estimate what is possible to find regarding the town or region, from which your family came from.
Let us present the mentioned tools:
‘Szukaj w archiwach’ (‘Search in the archives’)
It is a projected developed by the National Digital Archives (Polish: Narodowe Archiwum Cyfrowe), a government institution. Its aim is to keep and organize all of the historical digital materials, including: scanned documents, photographs, video clips and sound recordings. As a result the whole state collection shall be available online, unfortunately the process is going to be long and currently we have got an access to the fully indexed but not yet digitalized resources. For a start you can simply type the name of your ancestors’ town in the search box and see what the sources are.
‘Baza Pradziad’ (‘The Pradziad/Greatgrandfather Database’)
A well described, fully functional search engine that gives you an access to the index of any records kept by the National Archives throughout the whole territory of Poland. It is somewhat frustrating that they require you to know the current administrative division of Poland, but of course additional sources like Wikipedia can be very helpful here. The engine links you to the seats of the concrete Archives, so you can simply give them a call once you find information about the documents they keep and ask them for the details.
The website is run by the Polish Genealogical Society and its idea was to let volunteers index the data they collected during private researches, so the others can use them as well. Be aware that the range of included records is limited to the places visited by the members of the community so far. However if you are lucky and ‘your town’ is there, they very often give you more than two search engines mentioned before – names. Yes, some people made an effort to physically type all of the names of the people listed in census books they went through during their researches, so you can for example search all of the names of the people baptized in town X in year 1900 etc.
To conclude: do not be afraid of the Polish websites, even if your knowledge of Polish limits to ‘Dzien dobry!’ and ‘Dziekuje’. Of course there is always a point in which you will need a help of a Polish-speaking friend or a local volunteer, but we will not exaggerate if we say that many genealogical adventures can start with a few simple clicks.
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