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Welcome to GenPoland

Genealogy and Poland
A Guide

Millions of people all around the world trace their roots to the territory of present-day Poland. Their ancestors might have been of Polish, German, Jewish, Ruthenian or other ethnic backgrounds and they might have belonged to the Roman Catholic, Greek Catholic, Lutheran, Orthodox, Calvinist or Mennonite Churches, or professed Judaism. This guide is designed for helping their descendants in researching their family's history dating back to different times and places in contemporary Poland.


Although my own family research has focused mainly on the region of Wielkopolska (Greater Poland - formerly Provinz Posen), my pages deal with genealogical problems pertaining to all former and present provinces of Poland. I hope my guide will be equally beneficial to other researchers whose ancestors originated from all those territories. In particular this guide also includes valuable information for the descendants of the Germans who also inhabited the Prussian provinces taken over by Poland after WWII.


 As this guide contains a compendium of information, I decided to group it into the following subjects:

    How to start my search for ancestors.
      Compilation of data
    How to locate my ancestors' place of origin.
      The names of localities in Poland and the history of administrative divisions
    My ancestors were Germans (Jews, Russians etc.). Why should I look for them in Poland?
      The difficult history of Poles, Germans, Russians & Jews in Poland
    My family has come from the XYZ province. Was it or is it now in Poland?
      Defining the changing boundaries
    What kind of records are available in Poland for my ancestors? Where can I find them?
      Investigative research
    How to obtain a birth/marriage/death certificate from Poland.
      Dealing with the archivists, officials and pastors
    What does my surname mean?
      Hints on etymology

Mr. Tom Wodzinski from Canberra, Australia has prepared a comprehensive listing of Internet resources and other information (important books, addresses of archives, genealogical societies, bookstores etc.) that might be very useful to everybody interested in genealogy research concerning Poland.
Its HTML version is available in the following blocks:


I recommend an interesting story written by Kathi White about her experiences in tracing her Polish roots.


I am grateful to Rose Kuntze, Heinz Paryas, Rafal T. Prinke, Pat Smith, Ceil Jensen & Kathi White for their assistance in creating this guide.
And to PolishRoots™ who is hosting this site for us.


This version of the guide was completed in July 2001. Thanks to the help of Mr. Walther Kerner, some pages are also available in German.


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