Monday, October 24, 2022

Searching for Polish Records


As I turn every which way to attempt locating actual records to verify my family's presence in 1800s Poland, I'm beginning to realize how America-centric our online genealogical resources are. Enter any name from my tentative, newly-discovered Polish DNA match's tree at MyHeritage into, say, the records search at either FamilySearch or, and the suggested resources come back with results for stateside people with the same name. It doesn't matter that I entered "Poland" or even "Prussia" into my search terms; the only help I can get is from records in New York or Chicago.

Granted, there are quite a few record sets available for Poland at—or, specifically, for the historic Prussian province known in the German language as Posen. In that long list of links in the FamilySearch catalog, however, there are none which cover Catholic records for the parish I'm seeking: Żerków.

Looking at the catalog at doesn't give me any more hope. Though gathered under the heading "Poland," the included record sets at Ancestry are more broad-based and thus not specific enough to help me find the documents I need. Some collections, like the Roman Catholic Church Books Index, actually refer the researcher back to the FamilySearch wiki. That page, in turn, includes hyperlinks to the actual digitized record sets for five specific Catholic church collections.

Only problem: none of those contain the parish I'm seeking.

Granted, Cyndi's List makes it look like there are plenty of Polish resources out there. When, on closer look, you realize many of the websites can help only with specific regions—not the entire country—the few resources I've already discovered become all the more valuable. Or, perhaps, it will be time to revert to a more old-fashioned search routine. Time to get out the stamped, self-addressed envelopes and enlist the help of Google Translate.

Meanwhile, I've gotten out my family tree "warning" sign. I'm busily adding—and flagging—the tentative line of my newly-discovered DNA match's ancestors to my tree. That will lay the groundwork to guide me regarding which documents to find—and remind me that these newly-found family members are still just temporary additions.



  1. Yes, Polish records aren't always easy to find, especially, as you point out, when the sites we use most commonly are very North American centric...I use Geneteka and some of the Polish archive sites (I blogged about one instance recently)...incidentally, Geneteka results do sometimes lead to FamilySearch record sets.

    1. I do remember your mention of Geneteka, Teresa. Although that website has been helpful for my paternal grandfather's roots farther north in Poland, my paternal grandmother's parish does not show up--so far--in the Geneteka collections for her province.


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