Finding Polish Records Online

Yesterday I mentioned my “easy” online find of a 19th century Polish marriage record via a site called Geneteka.  In this post, I’ll provide more information on the site, what’s available, and how to navigate.  But first, a word on various Polish sites that offer genealogical records or indexes.

It’s becoming more and more common to find genealogical records online in the United States thanks to both “free” sites, such as FamilySearch, and paid subscription sites like Ancestry and Footnote. Although FamilySearch and Ancestry both have some international records, not many are from Poland – which is where most of my ancestors are from.  But, there are Polish records available online – the only problem is knowing where to look.  There are several web sites and genealogical societies in Poland that are in the process of indexing millions of vital records, but most of the sites are in Polish (a notable exception to the language issue is the Poznan Project, which is in English).  There doesn’t seem to be one central online repository for these records, so finding them required some sleuthing and a heavy use of online translators to understand the Polish instructions.

Your first stop to check on availability of Polish records or indexes online should be the Indeks Indesków <EDITOR’S NOTE 10/2015 – the site this article referred to no longer exists; another site uses the same name but does not offer the same content>, which means the Index of Indexes.  It is in Polish, but it’s not too hard to figure out.  The site lists updated indexes in chronological order starting with the most recent.  But to see the entire list of what is available for each province, simply click on the name of the province (woj.) at the top of the page.  The column on the far left shows the Parafia/USC or the name of the town parish/civil registration office.  Next, the list will show what years are available online for chrzty/urodziny (christenings/births), małżeństwa (marriages), and zgony (deaths).  The final column, strona www, provides the link to the site or sites that have these indexes or records.  There are a dozen different sites!

Many of my Polish ancestors come from the mazowieckie provice and I was fortunate to discover that several of my main towns (Żyrardów, Mszczonów, and Warszawa) all have either indexes or the actual records available via Geneteka.

A full and very detailed explanation of the Geneteka site has already been written by Al of Al’s Polish-American Genealogy Research in June, 2009.  Please read his series of posts starting with Indexing Project – Geneteka Part One.  When you’re finished reading Al’s posts, come back here and I’ll explain my search.

Using this Geneteka search page, I entered my surname Piątkowski without the diacritical (entered as Piatkowski) in the box that says Nazwisko and clicked on the Wyszukaj button.

Search results for “Piatkowski”

Next, I chose to view the 93 marriage records listed under Warszawa to see the following results:

Search results for “Piatkowski” in marriage records for Warszawa

Scrolling down to find “Stanisław”, I see the names of my great-great-grandparents:

Piatkowski-Konopka search result

The first column is merely the number of the record within the total number of records found.  Next is the year the marriage took place, followed by the number of the record in the actual record book.  Next is the name of the groom, then the bride, and the church name.  The icon that looks like the letter “i” is included with some lines.  If you hold your mouse over the “i” you will see additional information (have an online translation tool handy).  The “A” icon will tell you who indexed the record.  Finally, the most important part of the line is the icon that reads “SKAN” at the end of the line.  This is not available for all of the indexed records, but if it is shown you are in luck – click it and you will see a scanned copy of the image.  (Note: some of the scanned images are located on the Geneteka site and others link to Polish Archives – my sample for this post links to one of the Archives so if you click on “skan” for another image it may look different than the images that follow.) First you will see the record group that the image is in, such as the following:

This page opens up after clicking on “skan” next to the Piatkowski-Konopka information.

I knew from the indexed information that I needed record number 194, so I clicked on the first image on this page.  It opens up a larger view of the records, and you can clearly read the number.  Then I used the navigation buttons on the side to find #194.

Navigate through the records until you find the correct number (located in upper left of each record).

Once you find the correct image,  you can save it to your computer.  It’s FREE!  Then all you need is either your trusty copy of In Their Words: A Genealogist’s Translation Guide to Polish, German, Latin and Russian Documents.  Volume I:  Polish by Jonathan D. Shea and William F. Hoffman or your favorite Polish translator to help you uncover the details found in your record!

What if you find a name, but there is no “skan” at the end of the line?  That means they have not (yet?) scanned the record.  However, you now have both the year and the akt (act) number, which means you can contact the archives in that region to get a copy.  There will be a fee to obtain it, but it will be less than if you required them to research the name in the indexes themselves to find the correct year and act number.

This isn’t a full explanation of the Geneteka site – I am still figuring it all out myself.  Al already gave a very good primer on how to use the site, and I highly recommend his series that I linked to above.  My main goal in writing this post was to let others who are researching Polish ancestry know that the records are out there (to borrow a phrase from the television show X-Files).  Unfortunately, the records are being indexed by over a dozen different groups, and there is no one central site for this information.  Check the Index of Indexes to see if your ancestors’ parishes have been indexed yet.  If they haven’t – keep checking the site!  It is updated frequently.  All of the indexing sites appear to be quite active.  This marriage record only appeared in the last month.  If anyone else has good luck in finding a record on one of the many Polish sites, I’d love to hear more so leave a comment.

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58 thoughts on “Finding Polish Records Online

  1. Donna – Thank you so much for this info! Of course I didn’t find everyone I was looking for (Why can’t that happen just once? 😉 ), but I did find some of the family and gained some new information. Most interestingly my great-grandfather Leonard Szerejko may have been married before he married my great-grandmother Jozefa. I was also able to track additional family members back to Suwalki which is where we suspect the family originates. Thanks again!

  2. Thanks so much for this information and explaining how to read the marriage information, thanks to a translation site I was able to figure out how to search and found my great great grandfather and grandmother which verified that she was indeed the correct name for the wife. Loved it!!

  3. I followed the link in your “K” post of July 22, 2012 and then the link to this post and on to Geneteka.
    I found the weddings of my great-grandfather and great-grandmother and of his brother, too! Also a baptism for one of their daughters. This gives me the names of all their parents. What a thrill to see that my great-great-grandmother’s name was Marianna.
    Thank you so much for your blog!

  4. They were in Warsaw-Palasz. Wielechowska, Baranowska, Minasiewicz are the names. This is the best info I have found for a long time!

  5. This is Amazing! Thank you so much! I’ve been working on my family history for a few years now. My mother’s family is from Poland and I have not been able to get much information about them because Polish records are harder to find. I appreciate this so much. Thank you for posting!

  6. trying to find a birth record for my grandmother born inHelnod? poland in 1893 her name was anna kosky

  7. Pingback: Finding the Marriage of my 3rd Great Grandparents on Geneteka | Steve's Genealogy Blog

  8. Hi Donna, I tried using the Geneteka site, but for my surname all I get is an indication of the number of records, but not a summary of the records themselves. Have you seen this? Why would this happen?

  9. Thank you so much for writing this blog post. I have been researching my family tree since 1999, mostly on my mother’s side because she goes back well into the 1600 here in the United States. I’ve been hoping to do more on my father’s Polish ancestry, but haven’t had much luck…until now. I did as your post suggests and went to Indeks Indesków first, selected the province where my family was from (Podkarpackie), and discovered Mike Burger’s site that has birth and marriage records for Dobrynin from the mid-1790s until the early 1910s. Low and behold, I found my great-grandfather Kasimierz Muniak (who was born in 1880 and immigrated here in the early 1900s) as well has his parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and even the name of one great-grandparent. I didn’t even now he came from Dobrynin and I only had his parents names (no dates and no other names). Now I have a wealth of information and have been able to go back several more generations. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I can’t tell you how tickled pink I am right now.

  10. That’s awesome, Louise! I’m so happy for you and glad that I helped you find it. I’m due to write a new post soon since the Polish Archives have digitized over 7 million records! Best of luck in your research!

  11. yes I need your help in tracking down the records of my great-great grandparents their name is Michael & Mary Budnik

  12. Thanks for this valuable information. I”ve been trying to find more about several lines in my family and discovered my great-grandparents (Jacob Kaminski and Franciska Ciszewska) via one of the links you provided. Such a thrill to have all of the pieces connect, including my GGM’s maiden name which didn’t appear in many of the American records I found (the closest was “Czecheski”). I confirmed that their hometown was Redgoszcz in Lekno parish and now have a chance to find out more about them! Many, many thanks!

  13. Loved reading your blog. I am trying to find my great grandparents in Poland. Either their marriage or their births. I’d be happy with one! So difficult! I’m entirely frustrated because my great grandfather’s name is not the same! It is Kofton, which is not Polish, though he claims to have been born in Warsaw. I know one day I will find him. I am trying to find his wife, Helen Pawlowski, which is not easy. Thanks for your inspiration and links! I will keep trying.

  14. I was very intrigued and impressed with your site. Took me a long time to find one of this caliber. The problem I am facing is finding information pertaining to my dad’s family tree. As you can no doubt tell, I am having a very difficult time.
    My dad gave me HIS dad’s grade one report card : it is dated october 1st,1899 in KOMAROWIE , province of Galicia (west) . His name is Michal Waszczuk. His dad’s name is Julian Waszczuk ( mother is Catherine).
    Any advice you could give me would be greatly appreciated. I went through your site and found a few waszczuk’s but am unsure if they are related because the areas are not familiar. Galicia covers a huge area and I haven’t been able to find the town of KOMAROWIE.
    Looking foward to hearing from you or anyone else for help. Love your site….am learning alot about Polish history from reading what you’ve put down.

    You can email me at myselfeh@sasktel.net I am from Saskatchewan, Canada.

    yours truly,
    Cameron Waschuk ( waszczuk )

    ps: school year was 1906/07, single grade Folk School Grade one level one.

  15. Hi Donna this is wonderful info but for some reason I’m finding no one with the name I am after at all! My grandfathers name was michal serwetnyk and on arriving in Canada from Poland in 1928 it stated he had a wife Anna Serwetnyk and child in Gusztynek, pow borszczow. Can you please give me any ideas as to how I can trace their marriage certificate or what I may be doing wrong? Help! Many thanks

  16. I am looking for death certificate the name was Janina Stefania Semenowicz, meiden maiden name was Demkowicz, she was lived in: 04-119 Warsaw 44 Budrysow 11 A #34 Please help me .

  17. Hi, Donna – I have been researching my family for a couple of years. My grandfather and his siblings, named Brockman, were all born in Poland, between 1864 and 1874. They were born in the area around Kalisx, Siedradz, Lodzkie, and Blaszki. I can’t find any records of them on Ancestry, only from family records.
    The frustrating problem comes from their father, my great grandfather. I can only find a passing reference to a man with a name shown as Samuel J. (David) (Kalman) Brockman. He was married to a woman named Rosa. I’m not even sure where the Kalman name came from. Limited family records show that each of his children gave their parents different names at different times.
    There is no information on where in Poland he was born or when. I can’t find any Brockmans in my limited research in Poland. I can find reference to a number of Kalmans. One major question – If his name was Kalman, how did it, at some point, become Brockman? Or maybe it didn’t and the children took that name when they arrived here
    I am very frustrated at my inability to even know where to begin. I had pretty much given up until I came across your site. Any suggestions or assistance you might be able to provide would be most appreciated.

  18. Has anyone access to church and or city family records in Zirardow circa 1900?

  19. Geneteka is a gold mine! I’ve found several scans and many ancestors listed – I’ll have to contact the archives, but now I know exactly where the records are! Wiring money is so expensive and my ancestors are listed in a few different archives. Nevertheless, it is a fabulous site and once you get the hang of how to search, the search options are excellent. I’d say it’s the best site for Polish genealogy that I’m aware of. Thank you for the instructions to use this site.

  20. Yes, it is a wonderful site that I found thanks to Donna’s post, too. I found marriage and birth documents for my Grandparents and Great Grandparents. Unfortunately, I have still not found any one to translate them for me. So, if anyone ever reads this and knows of a reliable translator, please, post it here.
    Thank you,
    Marianne

  21. Pingback: Polish Genealogical Resources | Empty Branches on the Family Tree

  22. Could you please tell me what provinces of Letowice, Goslawice and Wierzchoslawice, Poland. I am researching the Bryl Family Tree. Father was Mikolay Bryl and Mother Magdalena Wolnik Bryl (Goslawice) I am also doing research on the family of Stanislaw Setlak and Anna Pecak Setlak from the village of Skrzysrow. What province would they be from? I am also trying to find relatives from Letowice with the last name Drelicharz.

  23. Does anyone know where to find wills in Poland 1900-1920. It would have been the voiviodship Stanisławow, area Horodenka, parish Czernelica.

  24. Donna, you are the queen of geneteka and thanks to you I am able to use the site with ease. I’ve been using geneteka for quite a while. It’s a wonderful site; I ‘ve found a lot of ancestors. As of last weekend, the site won’t open a scan for me. It always did before. The little circle just keeps going around. Have they changed something or do you think something is wrong with my computer? I appreciate any help 🙂
    Thank you.

  25. So many people read your fantastic blog. Maybe somebody will be interested: polishstart.blogspot.com just to practice. Hope you dont mind. Greetings from Poland 🙂 Anna

  26. Interesting site 🙂 Can anyone tell me please how I obtain a birth certificate for someone born in Szesakowa in 1926, who would I need to contact? My father Waclaw Kowalewski was born on the 7 Sept 1926 in Szesakowa which I believe is now Szczakowav. He was captured in 1943 and spent time in Dachau Concentration Camp before being liberated and eventually moving to Australia in 1950.
    Many thanks Tania
    Brisbane Queensland Australia

  27. Nowdays Szczakowa is part of Jaworzno city, Tania, so you can try at Urzad Stanu Cywilnego (Registy Office) of Jaworzno. I found the number for you, its +48 /32/ 61 81 531-533. If you need address, here you are: Urząd Stanu Cywilnego, ul.Grunwaldzka 33, 43 – 600 Jaworzno, Poland. Greetings from Poland 🙂
    Anna

  28. Hi everyone! I’ve trying to get my family’s Polish citizenship confirmed. My grandfather was born in Warsaw in 1930, but I can’t find any records for him. He died in 1998, but I’ve found his Scouting and Guiding Association ID card from Zeran in Warsaw, and I found his father’s baptism record from 1905 in Wola parish, Warsaw. Does anyone know who I should contact?

    My grandmother was born in Nowojelnia which is now part of Belarus and called Navajeĺnia. I can’t find any records for them at all until they arrived in the US zone in Germany after world war 2.

    Thanks to you all for the info!
    Steve

  29. Dear Stephen! About your grandfather: If you know his date of birth, you can try at Registry Office – Archive (the address is: Urząd Stanu Cywilnego Warszawa Śródmieście – Archiwum, 02-678 Warszawa, ul. Smyczkowa 14. Poland) About your grandmother you should check this site: agad.gov.pl. There is an english version. They are helping people in your situation. (Archiwum Akt Dawnych w Warszawie)

  30. My grandfather was born on January 10,1890 in Bartniki in Suwalki Poland.How can i get a copy of his birth certificate.

  31. Hi ,can anyone help me find some records of my great grandparents and also their parents? No luck for me on any of these sites. I do have the day my great grandparents were married.also I have their parents names. I have a marriage certificate but it’s in polish and I can’t read it.

  32. Hello Donna,
    I’ve started a search on my polish GGM in memory of my mother who passed away. Her dream was to find out more about her GM.
    With a friend’s help I discovered she was married in Poland before she imigrated to Brazil. I want to find out if her polish husband stayed/died in Poland or came with her to Brazil. She had 2 children in Brazil with a spanish immigrant.
    Could you tell me how can I find the information about her first husband?
    I just found your site and I was excited about all the information you provide.
    Many thanks for any help you can provide.
    Regina

  33. This site is the greatest I found all family on
    my grandmothers side of my family and it dated back to 1799.Thank you for this site

  34. Wow, I’m a experienced genealogical researcher of the UK archives, but having put 2000 names into my tree, was daunted by the prospect of finding my wives family. It’s taken me a year to get to grips with basic Polish surnames, and you link has made today an epiphany. I got Back to the 1850’s with ease and my father in law stayed for three hours chatting and confirming the data I managed to find. Thank you

  35. See if the Polish Archives has the town’s records online at searcharchives.pl Otherwise, find a Polish genealogy forum (Facebook, Ancestry, genealodzy.pl) and ask your question there.

  36. Thank you for this wonderful information. While, I stumbled upon the site you mention and found my way around with the help of a Polish/English online translation (for the info when you hover over the “i” icon, which isn’t in English), when I click “skan”, I’m receive the message, “You don\t have access to this directory”. However, I randomly clicked on another “skan” and it opened. Does anyone know why I am getting this message (it’s my Grandmother’s birth record and hooray, I now know the name of my Great-Grandmother). Just started searching online seriously a little over a year ago, so I’m quite a newbie. Thanks!

  37. Donna I can’t believe!! We have The same surname but my great-grandfather – also Stanislaw married Stephania or Stefania. I’m trying so hard for so long to know about my polish heritage. My grandfather’s name was Jan and I know he had a sister named Anna. She died in 1989 three days before I arrived Warsawa to meet her. Can You help me somehow?

  38. Pingback: Polish Resources for Family History Research | Empty Branches on the Family Tree

  39. Thank you for your clear directions on how to use Genetka. I have found my grandmother’s birth record (Chelchowska in Krasnosielc) and hope to make more discoveries in the near future.

  40. Thank you so much for taking the time to post all this information! I’m at a complete dead end regarding my great-grandfather & the names of his parents or any family for that matter. Hopefully after going through this website I can find a record of his birth, there has to be something. The very first record I have is a naturalization document filled out a year into his World War I service, absolutely nothing before that. He’s not on any ship manifest, not in a census, there’s no naturalization declaration of intent, no draft registration, nothing. I’ve tried every surname spelling variation, every variation and translation of :Louis”, and have gotten nowhere. Thank you again! Brandy
    Great-Grandfather Louis Raciborski born May 1892-1896 Warsaw, Russia (from the naturalization paperwork).

  41. How do I find family when all I have is my grandma first and last name that all. I know I’m polish but nothing else.

  42. You’re not going to find anything until you do some research in the US to determine where in Poland she came from. A good how-to book for Polish genealogy is “Going Home” by Jonathan Shea.

  43. As regards place people come from – try the map:
    http://www.moikrewni.pl/mapa/

    Type the last name and you’ll get number of people with that last name currently living in Poland with division into counties (powiat). As regards last names that have the feminine version – try both to have the full picture (Kowalski / Kowalska)

  44. Geneteka is a fantastic data base site. I am from Australia and was able to find my 93 year old fathers family background from this site. I knew the village he was born in and Geneteka will sort people with a given name in say the Lodz province. Poland has 18 Archdiocese provinces and many times after the sort I used all the provinces to get my information. Took time but successful.

  45. Donna I first came across your site several months ago while trying to trace my mother’s family but I’m afraid I gave up. Then today while surfing I ended up at your site again and gave the Geneteka site another try. Armed with a polish – english translation page running in the background I went looking for my Ksiazek relatives in the Minsk Maz area. My mother is gone now. She was the youngest of her siblings by 10 years, was snatched up in the occupation of 1939, liberated in 1945 and went to England and unfortunately she spoke little of her family after the war. I was able to drag out the names of most of her siblings while she was here and today thanks to you I was able to find and verify most of what she told me. It’s not an easy search when you don’t speak or understand the language but you have been a tremendous help today.

    Thanks
    Alan

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