6 Websites for Polish Genealogy Research

By Lisa A. Alzo and Diane Haddad Premium

Upwards of 10 million Americans and 1 million Canadians claim Polish roots. They share the legacy of Polonia, a diaspora that built communities abroad while the Polish homeland suffered more than a century of partition by neighboring powers. Migrating borders, name changes and language barriers can hamper your roots research in Poland, but you now have more help than ever before. These free Polish genealogy websites can save you loads of legwork in locating ancestral hometowns and figuring out where to look for records.

The Solecki family. Jadwiga and Stanislaw Solecki risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jewish girl, Marlena Wagner, from extermination by the Nazis. (Wikimedia Commons)

Geographic focus: Eastern Galicia (now in Poland and Ukraine)

This site, belonging to researcher Matthew Bielawa, has databases you can search to find out whether the Central State Historical Archives of Ukraine or the Family History Library (FHL) holds a particular Galician village’s or parish’s Greek or Roman Catholic church registers. Other features include:

  • guides to finding your ancestors’ village of origin
  • tutorials for finding and reading vital records
  • record examples
  • regional history
  • maps

Geographic focus: Poland, especially Jewish communities

You’ll find this site helpful even if your ancestors weren’t Jewish, especially if you refer to the maps and use the JewishGen Gazetteer (formerly the ShtetlSeeker) for finding Polish towns. It uses a Soundex system for Yiddish or Slavic pronunciations.

Click Databases, then Poland for Poland-specific content. You’ll find:

  • an index to millions of Jewish vital and other records from 500 Polish towns
  • the JewishGen Poland Database  index to vital records, voter lists, Holocaust sources and more
  • town index from a 1929 Polish business directory
  • Microfilm Master tool for finding FHL films from Poland, which you can rent by visiting a FamilySearch Center near you

Geographic focus: Poland

Click Help Pages here for research how-tos. Under Featured Projects, you’ll find records and a list of surnames other site users are researching. Among its other can’t-miss features are:

  • clickable map with links to resources for Polish provinces
  • how-tos for getting started, finding towns, locating churches and more
  • some record transcriptions

Polish Genealogical Society of America
Geographic focus: Poland

There’s no need to join this research society to use the website, although rates are reasonable and membership comes with the Rodziny quarterly journal plus other benefits. Click Databases to access these unique compilations:

  • indexes including records of Haller’s Army (a WWI military unit), insurance records from Polish Roman Catholic Union of America and death notice indexes from Polish newspapers in Baltimore and Chicago
  • guides to genealogy research
  • Polish history

Geographic focus: Poland

Click Surnames here to register your Polish surnames and connect with others sharing those names. Check out these features, too:

  • links to old gazetteers and directories covering Polish regions
  • cross-index of Polish and German place names
  • GenPoland getting-started guide
  • Gen Dobry e-zine

Poznan Marriage Indexing Project
Geographic focus: Poznan province

“Posen” on an American genealogical record can mean the Polish city of Poznan or the province of the same name—sending many family historians on a wild goose chase for records in their ancestral homeland. This searchable database could help you determine your ancestors’ town of origin.

Use the links on the home page to click to similar projects covering other areas of Poland.

  • searchable index to about 750,000 marriages in Poznan province between 1835 and 1884
  • list of Poznan parish records’ availability in Polish archives or on FHL microfilm

From the July/August 2012 Family Tree Magazine.