The United States has its own National Archives (NARA). Well so too does Poland and for the European nations their archives go back centuries! Today I want to speak about the home land’s archiwum. Poland’s archive is on the Internet, po angielskiu is at:
If you get the Polish version (po polskiu), just click on the British Union Jack flag and you can see the English language version. Now I am jabbering about this today, because the PGSCTNE sent me their newsletter yesterday and in it was an article by Kahlile Mehr (whose presentations I have enjoyed many times). In it he speaks about the European archives on the Internet. So I posted on my avatar’s LinkedIn page a discussion, in Polish Genealogists, to see how many people have availed themselves of the Polish Archive’s databases.
Now I have used the Pradziad database before to see what kind of vital records are held in archives (and those archive locations) for the parishes in Poland that Stanczyk’s ancestors come from (Biechow, Pacanow, etc.). I have from time to time tried to garner something of value from the Sezam database over the years to no avail. Well there are also IZA and ELA databases. Go here to see the four databases covering Poland’s State Archives. Now Kahlile’s article published in PGSCTNE’s “Pathways & Passages” newsletter talked about ELA and he said you could find “residence books” in ELA. Now these are not historical directories, but are inventories of families residing in some village (not necessarily parish) for some year(s). So I searched this database for my villages (including those villages that were NOT the parish).
I got a lot of hits. The titles were in Polish. Ok Stanczyk, trohe rozumiem po polskiu. So to make sure I understood the titles returned I would cut and paste them into Google’s Translator, which does well enough to give me the gist of what I will find in these “fonds”. It even gives me the contact info for the archive location holding said title/fond.
I love Pradziad and it definitely helps me plan for research in Poland. But now I am beginning to get a little savvy with ELA. I did find some possibilities. But I found one extraordinary nugget that I must go see. I found a Cadastral Map document for one of my ancestral villages. These are like the historical USA, Plat Maps which list land owners. Now I was surprised because Stanczyk’s ancestors come from the part of Poland that was in the Russian partition of Poland (often denoted, Russian-Poland, in US Census or Ellis Island Ship Manifests). I was surprised because I was told that Cadastrals were mainly in the Austrian or Prussian partitions of Poland. Now to be sure, my ancestor’s villages were just across the Vistula (Wisla) from the Austrian partition and for a few years were a part of the Krakow wojewodztwo (or departement in the Grand Duchy of Warsaw). So I guess they did a Cadastral map for this village. Now I know it exists and I must go see it.
So Khalile, let me just say, “THANKS!”
You should go search the Pradziad, ELA and IZA and SEZAM databases. Oh, you do not need to worry about diacriticals in your searches. In fact. I recommend you leave them out rather than use the wrong one or miss one. I tried it both ways, as Pacanow and as Pacanów. Both returned the exact same results. Likewise for other villages I tried. So fire up Google (or whatever translator you prefer) and go search and discover what treasures are in Poland’s State Archives.
Do not forget about the Church Archives or the actual Parish’s books or the USC offices. But at least the Polish State Archives have their library catalogs on the Internet.