Polish State Archive Databases 

In many cases, a researcher can learn what exists in Polish archives without ever going there. A search engine created by the Polish State Archives permits one to look up what information is available in several of their databases. 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 some of the church and/or synagogue registrations of birth, marriage and death. These are searchable by the village/town name, but the researcher must be aware that many of 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. 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. Until about 2015, all of these databases were separate with difficult Polish names - they have now been put into one search engine described below.  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 precede discovering what is not known.


Szukajwarchiwach

This is the replacement for the hodgepodge of databases previously available for Polish archives.  It allows searching through all of them, including PRADZIAD (vital records) and presents the results in a list that can be filtered. The new site is at:  https://www.szukajwarchiwach.gov.pl/en/.   The older site is at https://www.szukajwarchiwach.pl/ The first step is to click on the British or USA flag (depending on which version of the search engine you use) 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" (old site only) and then on "Refine".  This should give you a short list of available records. Unfortunately, this site does not give access to all digital scans, even if they exist.  For those, see AGAD below.
FamilySearch has created a five page guide on how to use the older search with samples.  It is at:  https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/img_auth.php/a/af/Polish_State_Archives.pdf
There is also a nice ten page description on what you will find in the records.  See Catholic Vital Records of Galicia/Halychyna on the FamilySearch wiki.

The PRADZIAD 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.  

Here is an example of the church records found on Szukajwarchiwach, courtesy of member Bogdan Hrynkiewicz.  Parish records for the years 1901 through 1920 aree available for the Evangelical Lutheran parish of St. Martin/Marcin in Krakow/Krakau.  The records cover births, marriages, and deaths and can be found on this web site of the Polish Archives:
https://www.szukajwarchiwach.gov.pl/jednostka/-/jednostka/14604261
In addition to these records, the Family History Library has Lutheran records for Krakow/Krakau covering the years 1818 - 1854.
Some of the villages found in the church records are:  Borek Falecki,  Chrzanow, Ciezkowice, Czarna Wies, Debniki, Dembica / Debica, Krakau, Krowodrza, Krzyszkowice, Lednica Niemiecka (Deutsch-Lednica), Libiaz Wielki, Plaszow, Podgorze, Pradnik Czerwony, Ropczyce, Sanka, Szczakowa, Trzebinia, Wieliczka, Wola Justowska, Wolica / Wolika, Zabierzow, Zastow, and Zwierzyniec. There are other villages noted in the records.  Other neighboring parishes were Neu Gawlów, Biala, Stadlo, and Neu Sandez. 


Digital Scans

GGD's Paid Pesearch

For GGD members, we have hired researchers to photograph records of some parishes.  See the Members Only section called GGD Funded Research. In there you will find Parish Record Photographs  

AGAD

The Polish state archives, Archiwum Główne Akt Dawnych w Warszawie (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:

http://www.agad.gov.pl/inwentarze/testy.html

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
Do a browser search (Ctrl F) for your village.  Note that some villages have umlauted vowels designated by a trailing "e"; for example Königsau is Koenigsau. Note the number in square brackets. For example, [437] 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.

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: https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/img_auth.php/7/7e/AGAD.pdf

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:

http://agadd.home.net.pl/metrykalia/299/sygn.%20146/pages/PL_1_299_146_0002.htm

Here’s an 1877 birth and baptism page printed in German:

http://agadd.home.net.pl/metrykalia/299/sygn.%20251/pages/PL_1_299_251_0001.htm

And here’s a 1936 marriage page printed in Polish:

http://agadd2.home.net.pl/metrykalia/299/sygn.%20329/pages/1_299_0_0_329_0182.htm

Because of recent changes to the European Union’s data privacy policy, there are restrictions on which records can be displayed.  Births that occurred less than 110 years ago will not be displayed. The restrictions on deaths and marriages do not affect those records.


Family History Library

The Family History Library has microfilmed, but not indexed, many vital records from the former Galicia. Some of the images in AGAD actually come from microfilms taken by FamilySearch.org.  Individual villages may be searched for in the library catalog (see Tip 2 for details).  FamilySearch makes this process easier by listing all villages that are related to what you are typing. See this screen shot:

Screen shot when Konigsau typed into Family Search place search

 

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 Galicia, available databases and available vital records.  Visit https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Austrian_Poland_(Galicia),_Austro-Hungarian_Empire_Genealogy

Another good wiki reference is:  https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Austrian_Poland_Civil_Registration