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By Jean MaguireLibrary Director
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Polish genealogy—like any other genealogical research area—offers its own set of unique challenges. For example, tracing the place of origin for a Polish ancestor can sometimes be challenging for two reasons: 1) the changing politics of the region meant that a person’s country of origin could be listed in one of a variety of ways other than Poland (e.g., Austria, Prussia, or Russia), and 2) people from Poland often gave the nearest city as their place of origin instead of the actual village or town, or they gave a village or town name, but there is more than one place in Poland with that name. There are ways of dealing with these research challenges and there are resources that will explain these methods to you. This guide provides a listing of essential resources for anyone delving into their Polish ancestry. Many of these resources can be found or accessed at the library at NEHGS.
Going Home: A Guide to Polish-American Family History Research by Jonathan D. Shea, 5th Floor Stacks E184.P7 S54 2008
Guide to Chicago and Midwestern Polish-American Genealogy by Jason Kruski, 5th Floor Stacks F548.9.P7 K78 2012In Their Words: A Genealogist's Translation Guide to Polish, German, Latin, and Russian Documents by Jonathan D. Shea and William F. Hoffman, 7th Floor Reference CS871 .S54 2000Roman Catholic Parishes in the Polish People’s Republic in 1984 by Lidia Müllerowa, International Collection—1st Floor CS873 .M85 1995
A Translation guide to 19th-century Polish-Language Civil-Registration Documents by Judith R. Frazin, International Collection—1st Floor CS871 .F73 2009
FamilySearch.orgVarious date ranges from 1587 to 1976 for Częstochowa, Gliwice, Lublin, Radom, and Tarnow, Poland. Records are available for free. Information on how to use them can be found here.
Family History LibraryThe FHL has microfilmed the civil registration records of many towns in the former Prussian areas of Poland. They are rarely available more recently than about 1890 because the microfilming of records less than 110 years old is restricted. To find which civil registration records the Family History Library holds, search its library catalog for the keywords Poland and civil. This film can be ordered from FamilySearch.org and used at NEHGS.
Ancestry.comJewish vital records of Poland: births, 1550–1993; marriages, 1798–1939; deaths, 1808–1942. Available at NEHGS.
Biuletyn Korzenie: Newsletter of the Polish Genealogical Society of Massachusetts, 5th Floor Stacks F74.P7 B58
Pathways & Passages: Official Publication of the Polish Genealogical Society of Connecticut and the Northeast, 5th Floor Stacks F93 .P28
Rodziny: The Journal of the Polish Genealogical Society of America, International Collection—1st Floor CS870 .R63
Polish Genealogical Society of AmericaPolish Genealogical Society of CaliforniaPolish Genealogical Society of Connecticut and the NortheastPolish Genealogical Society of Massachusetts
FamilySearch - Poland, familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/PolandThis is a wiki (or community website) which covers many topics related to Polish genealogical research, including various record types, language tools, and geography guides.
JewishGen, jewishgen.orgAffiliated with the Museum of Jewish Heritage, this site features thousands of databases, research tools, and other genealogical resources on Jewish ancestry.
PolishOrigins, polishorigins.comOffers one place to search various databases and websites by name, place, or other keyword. Also provides a forum for discussion of research and sharing of tips.
PolishRoots, polishroots.comProvides links to online resources for immigration, geography, research tips, and more.
Polish State Archives, archiwa.gov.pl/en/for-archive-users/genealogy.htmlInformation on the holdings of state and church archives.
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