Reproduced from GGD newsletter #74, April 2013 and amended to latest developments, Feb 2020.
In many cases, a researcher can learn what exists
in Polish archives without ever going there. Two databases created by the
Polish State Archives permit one to look up what information is available
online. In addition, there are thousands of pages of actual church records
available for viewing or downloading from their website. See AGAD below.
The Polish State Archives holds the government copy of church and/or synagogue registrations of birth, marriage and death. These are searchable in PRADZIAD (described below), but the researcher must be aware that the original church records are not found in this index, but are located in the churches or in diocesan archives and are not controlled by the state archive system.
PRADZIAD and its older compantion databases are being replaced by a comprehensive database Szukajwarchiwach literally meaning “Search in Archives”
Baza danych Program Rejestracji Akt Metrykalnych i Stanu Cywilnego (The Program for the registration of records from parish and civil registration offices) has information on parish and civil registration registers preserved in all branches of the Polish State Archives and some Roman Catholic diocesan and arch-diocesan archives. It does not include personal name indexes or images of original documents. PRADZIAD is found at http://baza.archiwa.gov.pl/sezam/pradziad.php?l=en
This database covers both historical and modern Poland. Records do not always move with boundary changes. Consequently, Polish archives hold records for places now in surrounding countries. Likewise, Polish records are held in the archives of surrounding countries. The database includes towns that no longer exist or that now are located in another country, and towns that belonged to pre-1945 Germany and were incorporated into Poland. A researcher may search on one or several of the following elements:
This is the replacement for the hodgepodge of databases previously available for Polish archives. It allows searching through all of them, including PRADZIAD and presents the results in a list that can be filtered. The first step is to click on the British flag to see the title text in English. The actual database items will still be in Polish but with just a few words of Polish you can figure out what each record contains. Enter the name of your village in the Search box. If you are only interested in church records of birth/marriages/deaths, click on the box beside "Vital records and civil registers" and then on "Refine". This should give should give you a short list of available records. Unfortunately, this site does not give access to digital scans, even if they exist. For those, see AGAD below.
The databases of the Polish State Archives allow a researcher to prepare for
reviewing what records of interest
exist without going to Poland. A
researcher can also advise an agent of the collections that should be
searched. A mere decade ago, all of these functions could be done only at
the archive. Under the communist system, the descriptions now available on
the Internet were considered classified documents.
While these databases are essential to finding and using records in Polish archives, researchers should always keep in mind that not all records are held by archives. Records might be in the institution that created them or in collections of libraries, museums and other institutions that preserve records. Still, using what is known should procede discovering what is not known.
For GGD members, we have hired researchers to photograph records of some parishes. See http://www.galiziengermandescendants.org/Data/research_details.htm.
The Polish state archives, Archiwum Główne Akt Dawnych w Warszawie PL (Central Archives of Historical Records in Warsaw, also known as AGAD) has images of many thousands of the records on their web site and they can be viewed on-line at home. Many of the images are scans of the microfilms that were done by the FHL and others are images made by AGAD. Here’s a link to main AGAD image site:
This page has many sections dedicated to different areas and religions The most important one is the second
from the bottom which leads to an index of all the villages and which section
they are in.
Do a browser search for you village. Note that some villages have umlauted vowels designated by a trailing "e"; for example Königsau is Koenigsau. The number in square brackets, For example,  for Koenigsau, is the section number that contains the church book pictures. Go to the top of the index page or to the main page and click on the 437 section heading. The section names are of the form:
Księgi metrykalne wyznania rzymskokatolickiego z diecezji przemyskiej
Księgi metrykalne means vital records.
rzymskokatolickiego means Roman Catholic. Similarly ewangelicko-augsburskiego i helweckiego: means Evangelical-Augsburg and Helvetic denominations.
diecezji przemyskiej means the diocese of Przemysl. Similarly, z archidiecezji lwowskiej means from the diocese of Lwow/Lemberg.
This page has many sections dedicated to different areas and religions The most important one is the second from the bottom which leads to an index of all the villages and which section they are in. http://www.agad.gov.pl/inwentarze/indexmet.xml
Once you are in one of the sections, there is a long preamble describing the
area and listing all the villages. The fastest way to get to your village
is to use your browser's find function (Ctrl-F) and type in your village name,
e.g. Koenigsau. Skip through the introductory mentions of the village till
you get to the actual scan collections containing the line"Skan:galeria ze skanami:"
The key words are “urodzeń”= births, “ślubów” = marriages, and “zgonów” = deaths, or use the Chrome browser to do an automatic translation.
The FHL has posted a
guide to help people navigate the AGAD web site and it can be found here:
The scans show ledger style pages where the information is recorded. These were printed (or hand written in the early records) in German (though some of the very early records were printed or written in Latin), but when Galicia was incorporated into Poland after World War I (1918), the pages were printed in Polish and the pastors made the entries in Polish.
Here’s a link to a record of 1809 births and baptisms where the ledger pages are hand written in Latin:
Here’s an 1877 birth and baptism page printed in German:
And here’s a 1936 marriage page printed in Polish:
The Family History Library microfilmed, but not indexed, many vital records from the former Galicia. Some of the images in AGAD actually come from microfilms taken by the Mormon Church. Individual villages may be searched for in the library catalog at www.familysearch.org. Your webmaster has found that the quality of the scans on the FHL are better than that at AGAD, but many of those films cannot be viewed at home but need to be viewed at an actual Family History Center. These are widely distributed across North America and Europe and the volunteers in the library are very helpful.
The village names may be the German or Polish variations, so try both. Generally the country will be listed as Austria, Poland, or Ukraine. The search function is more forgiving of accents and diacritics on the letters. Thus Konigsau will find Königsau but Koenigsau will not.
Family Search also has an excellent page describing Galacia, available databases and avilable vital records. Visit https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Austrian_Poland_(Galicia),_Austro-Hungarian_Empire_Genealogy
|Galizien German Descendants||GGD home Page|