PabianAusPO Top Contributor
Joined: 18 Jan 2017
Posted: Mon Sep 18, 2017 12:36 pm
Post subject: My genealogy trip to Poland
I recently decided to get up from the desk of my home computer, and invested in a plane ticket to Poland not only to catch up with remaining family but also to visit a couple of regional archives offices to see if I could find some BDM records that I know exist but which have not yet been put up on any of the various Polish internet sites. There is only so much you can do from the comfort of you own home computer – there are times when you just have to take that 31 hours flight in order to break through those research roadblocks.
A couple of observations: the regional archives offices are very helpful and accessible but you need to plan before you go. You can’t just turn up not really knowing exactly what you want access to. You need to research what collections you want access to, when the archives offices are open, and then email your requests at least 24 hours before turning up. Additionally, there will probably be scanned records that are accessible from their reading room computers and which have not yet been uploaded by Szukajwarchiwach – in my case the regional archive office had scanned my BDM records of interest 2 years ago but they are still not available in Szukajwarchiwach. Of course, it’s all in Polish which is why you need to prepare well before you go. Another useful source on information are the town censuses (Księga Ludności Stałej or Spis Ludności Miasta) – they have the person’s date and place of birth, their parents’ names, and their religion.
If you want a copy of the BDM record I was surprised to find out that for birth records over 100 years old, and marriage and death records over 80 years old they will only provide a certified photocopy of the record, whereas for records less than 100 / 80 years old they will issue a formal extract (full or short form) on a nice formal certificate. The same applies at the town registry offices (the USCs). And don’t forget to take your passport with you, and have a good (verbal) explanation of your relationship to the person you are seeking to get a copy of the BDM of.
And while credit cards are accepted in most shops and restaurants and hotels in Poland, I strongly recommend you take Polish cash with you especially when dealing with government institutions.
While in Poland I also took the opportunity to attend the annual Polish Genealogists Conference in the medieval castle in the town of Brzeg. Some good news for those of you researching in the historical territories in the east (in present day Ukraine and Belarus) collectively known as Kresy. There is a lot of effort being put into getting access to old BDM records from these areas, and the Polish AGAD (Archiwum Główne Akt Dawnych) is another useful source of historical records from these areas. Many of their documents where acquired in 1945 as part of the Soviet/Polish agreement on Poland’s new eastern border. Records are based on pre-1939 parishes.
Expect more scanned documents from the Przemysl Archives (SE Poland) in the near future.
Other regional archives which are currently scanning many records include APs in Siedlce, Płock, Bydgoscz, Radom, Szczecin, Gdansk and Zamosc. The Polish National Archives is expecting to have scanned and uploaded over 6 million new records in 2017.
The National Archives are starting to experiment with OCR’ing of old documents, but as you would appreciate OCR’ing handwritten documents of various legibility is not a straightforward process.
I encourage everyone to make to the trip to the motherland. With a bit of planning, and effort to learn some words in Polish you will thoroughly enjoy the experience. Poland is very westernised – the bad old days of communism are well and truly gone. I even managed to drive (and navigate) on my own, on the opposite side of the road to which I have been driving for the past 40 years !
And make the effort to track down family members. I did, and on day 1 was shown photographs of my grandfather with all his brother and sisters as well as his mother, and which I had been searching for over the past 25 years !
Magroski49PO Top Contributor & Patron
Joined: 10 Nov 2008
Location: Joao Pessoa - Brazil
Posted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 4:35 pm
Post subject: Re: My genealogy trip to Poland
|PabianAus wrote: |
If you want a copy of the BDM record I was surprised to find out that for birth records over 100 years old, and marriage and death records over 80 years old they will only provide a certified photocopy of the record, whereas for records less than 100 / 80 years old they will issue a formal extract (full or short form) on a nice formal certificate. The same applies at the town registry offices (the USCs).
I don't know which AP you referred to. Unless things have changed in recent years, I have always received a scanned copy of the original BDM record. In my case, AP Lodz, AP Torun, AP Mlawa and - if I correctly remember - AP Konin.