Genealogy & Poland – a guide

If you’re trying to trace family history in the territory of modern-day Poland, you’ll probably already have discovered that it can be something of a labyrinth.

Poland was wiped off the map as an independent country at the end of the 18th century, and didn’t reappear until after the First World War – and then had its frontiers drastically redrawn westwards in 1945. So present-day Poland was once divided between two German kingdoms, the Austrian Empire, the Kingdom of Hungary and the Russian Empire; while parts of inter-war Poland are now in Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine and the Czech Republic!

However, there’s a handy website that gives you a few useful hints on how to make progress in your search for your Polish ancestors. PolishRoots.org has several informative and helpful pages covering the redrawing of Poland’s frontiers between the 19th century and the present day. You can also get information on how local government and record-keeping under the various administrations in Poland were organised, how to identify changing Polish surnames, and how to apply for certificates of birth, marriage and death as well as records from the various religious communities – Catholic, Lutheran and Jewish. There’s even a potted history of Poland from the mid-18th century onwards.

All this can be found by following this link: