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A Guide to the Polish State Archives

The Polish State Archives managed by The Head Office of State Archives (Naczelna Dyrekcja Archiwow Panstwowych) includes three main central collections and 29 Regional State Archives with 53 branches and five local offices.

The Website of the Polish State Archives offers access to a number of searchable databases, including the database of the Program for the Registration of Records from Parish and Public (civil) Registers PRADZIAD (Program Rejestracji Akt Metrykalnych i Stanu Cywilnego PRADZIAD). The database of the PRADZIAD program contains information on parish and civil registers preserved in all branches of the Polish State Archives, various Church archives and other archives and libraries in Poland, including material from the former Polish territories situated to the east of the River Bug that are now in Lithuania, Belarus, and the Ukraine (“Zabuzanskie” Archive). The database has details on specific holdings of Jewish vital records in those archives, but does not contain lists of individuals.

Searches must be conducted by the name of the town, one of the following five fields that need to be filled out for launching a database search:
Name of the town: must be entered according to its current Polish place name or, for names of towns that were not located within the pre WW2 borders of Poland or are now situated outside the current borders of Poland have to entered according to their either former Polish or foreign name.
Name of a larger town: To narrow the search for small towns and villages it is recommended to fill out the name of the bigger town or other administrative division to which the town belonged before WW2.
District/Province/Region Name: For towns within the current borders of Poland select the name of the province according to the administrative divisions of Poland from 1975 to 1998; for towns that are now in Lithuania or the Ukraine, by county and/or province; and for towns that were within the borders of Germany and are now in Germany or Russia, by county and/or districts.
Creed or Religion: In this field select mojzeszowe (“Jewish”) to access Jewish records only.

Type of event: It is highly recommended to select “all”; however, there is an option of choosing specific types of documents by the following categories:

Urodzenia= Births
Malzenstwa= Marriages
Zgony= Deaths
Ksiega rodzin, Familienbuch (German)= Family register

Other types of documents refer mainly to non-Jewish inhabitants; however selecting “all” will list all documents of Jewish interest.
Names of towns must be entered with a capital letter. Use either Polish fonts (with diacritical signs) or plain Latin characters, but not a combination of them. Example: enter either Lodz or Łódź.

Ordering documents from the Polish State Archives
Permission to use certain genealogical records by non-Polish citizens is granted by the director of each branch of the State Archives. Access to archival material is free of charge and searches can be conducted on the premises during the business days and hours of each branch. Genealogy inquiries and search requests by private persons are subject to the payment of a charge in accordance to the price list of each branch of the State Archives. Separate charges are required for the reproduction of material on microfilms, photocopies or Xerox copies.

To order specific documents or a genealogical search you may use either the service system of JRI-Poland, or contact directly the relevant branch of the Polish State Archives.
List of Polish State Archives (Central and Regional)