Searching for ancestors and discovering family history has become a popular hobby for many people around the world. So if you are interested in the history of your Polish ancestors, want to create a family tree, or perhaps unravel some mysteries from the past, then this article is definitely for you! Below, we will give you a practical guide on how to search for your Polish ancestors using the various sources and tools available. Before you start your search, we must warn you – the paths of genealogical research can lead us to very unobvious and unexpected places. Are you ready? Here we go…
How do you start your genealogical search? Gathering existing family information
The first step in searching for your Polish ancestors is to gather all available family information. Contact the oldest family members and ask about names, dates of birth, marriage, death, places of residence, and other relevant details. If you have the opportunity, it is also advisable to take a look at your home archive. This basic information is the foundation for further genealogical research. What family documents do we have in mind? These are primarily:
– Birth certificates,
– Baptismal certificates,
– Death certificates,
– School certificates,
– Property deeds,
– Any documents relating to work, military service, or marriage,
– Letter correspondence,
– Newspaper cuttings,
– Tapes with films.
Registration with genealogical databases
The second step may be to register with popular genealogical databases such as Ancestry, MyHeritage, FamilySearch, or Geneteka. These platforms provide access to indexes, metrics, photos of graves, and other valuable sources of information. Enter the family data collected and use search tools to find potential matches. In addition, if you want to find out what kind of documents are required to confirm whether your ancestor had Polish ancestry, then refer to the sub-site https://fivetoeurope.com/research/, where you will find this and more information.
Analysis of church records and civil status records
Church records and civil status records are key sources of information for genealogy searchers in Poland. Church metrics include baptism, marriage, and burial records, which were kept by churches of various denominations. Civil registration records, introduced in 1874, include registrations of births, marriages, and deaths kept by registry offices. Search for metrics in the localities where your ancestors lived using state, church, and civil archives. Keep in mind, that in the past many of the registers were kept in a superficial way, so there may be gaps in the data or difficulties in reading some of the records. Interestingly, metrological books are still kept today. Therefore, you can continue your search by going to the archives of the church or headquarters of another religious institution to which your ancestors belonged.
Use of online tools
Every year, more and more documents and books are being digitized and placed in various databases. Consequently, the internet currently offers a number of tools and websites that can be helpful in the search for Polish ancestors. In addition to the genealogical databases mentioned above, there are also specialized sites that offer access to indexes and projects related to Polish genealogy. You can also join genealogy groups on social networking sites such as Facebook, where thousands of people exchange information and experiences with other genealogy enthusiasts.
Visit archives and libraries
If you have the opportunity, visit local archives and libraries that hold documents and materials related to local history and genealogy. State archives, regional museums, and libraries often hold parish registers, town chronicles, historical newspapers, and other valuable resources that can help you trace your Polish ancestors. Make sure you prepare a list of questions and names to make the job of archivists and librarians easier.
Collaborate with other genealogy researchers
Genealogy is a field where collaboration and information sharing are of great importance. Join genealogical societies and associations, such as the Polish Genealogical Society, where you will meet other passionate Polish genealogists. Collaborating with other researchers can lead to valuable clues, hints, and potential connections to other families.
Population censuses essential for genealogical research
The first census of the Polish population dates back to 1791. In 1808 and 1810 there were censuses in the Duchy of Warsaw, and in 1897 in the Russian Empire, where so-called permanent and non-permanent population registers were regularly taken. So, as we can see, censuses can be an incredibly valuable source of information, especially if we need data from distant years.
The first census in independent Poland took place in 1921, so we can look for census data in the State Archives. Moreover, the State Archives in Warsaw also holds a unique collection of data, which includes the Central Register of Metrics of Issued Identity Documents from 1952 to 1997.