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Introduction

This guide is for researchers who do not speak Polish but must write to Poland for genealogical records. It includes some useful information and a list of sentences you would use in requesting genealogical records and Polish translations of these sentences.

The best sources of genealogical information in Poland are records of births, marriages, and deaths records kept by churches and civil registration offices. The Family History Library has microfilm copies of these records for many, but not all localities. Use the FamilySearch Catalog to determine what records are available through the Library and the Family History Centers. If records are available from the Library, it is usually faster and more productive to search these records first. If the records you want are not available through the library, you can use this guide to help you write to Poland for information.

Before You Write

Before You write to Poland for family history records, you should do following things:

  • Determine exactly where your ancestor was born, was married, lived, or died.
    Because most genealogical sources were recorded locally, you will need to know the specific locality where your ancestor was born, married, lived or died.
  • Determine your ancestor's religion.
    Because most early records were kept by churches or synagogues rather than civil registraiton offices, you may need to write to the church your ancestor attended in his or her hometown. If you are not sure what your ancestor's religion was in Poland, determine what religion he or she practiced after immigrating. People usually did not change religions when they moved frm Europe to their new home. Remember that main religion in Poland was and still is Roman Catholic. There were also following minority religions: Orthodox, Greek Catholic, Protestant (Lutheran) and Jewish.
  • Determine where records from your ancestor's home parish are stored today.
    When you have a locality name, use a gazetteer to determine which parish or civil jurisdiction served your ancestor's locality.
  • Check if records are available on-line. A great amount of records are available online. You can find those records on following pages:
    • FamilySearch - Catholic records from 4 dioceses (Częstochowa, Gliwice, Lublin, Radom and Tarnow)
    • Szukaj w Archiwach- instructions here (note that this is a pdf document, and you will need a pdf reader to read it).
    • Metryki

Archives, offices and parishes

State Archives

The best and the quickest way to contact State Archives in Poland is e-mail. It shouldn’t be a problem when you write letter in English. Probably there is at least one archive worker who knows English good enough to understand your inquiry. Of course all answers you will get in Polish. You should receive an answer in a month but sometimes it takes up to 2 months to get results of research. There is also a possibility to sent regular letter but it will significantly increase the time to get information.

Here you can find a list of all archives in Poland (with e-mails).

Payments

If writting regular letter do not include any money in an envelope. The only acceptable form of payment is bank transfer. If research looks for time consuming one, you can be asked to pay an advance. If not, you will receive an invoice for archive services and after it is paid you will receive results of research.

Each archive has own fees for services. In most cases, prices are the following:

  • Copy A4: 2-3 zl (1 USD)
  • Copy A3: 4-6 zl (2 USD)
  • Research: 40-90 zl (13-30 USD)/hour

Civil registration offices

In civil registration offices are kept documents younger than 100 years (with some exceptions). Older records should be transferred to an archive. If you would like to know if records are already in archive, you can check it in the Pradziad database.

A letter to civil registration office should be written in Polish. You should include as much information as you know concerning record you are interested in: eg. full name, exact or estimated date of event and denomination. Civil registration officer is not obligated to perform research if you can’t specify what are you looking for.

To receive a record you need to be straight descendant of person you are interested in. For example: you will get death certificate of your great grandfather but it can be a problem to get record of your grandmothers sister second husband. You can apply for that, but the result is determined of officer goodwill.

Here you can find an universal form that you can use to apply for full or shortened transcript of civil registration record.

Payments

Since 2007 the only form of payment is bank transfer. Payment should be done before sending request. Otherwise you will get a response to complete your application within 14 days. If you have a friend or family member in Poland you can ask him to make bank transfer for you (which is cheaper and quicker) and send confirmation of payment. Prices are the following:

  • Copy of certificate (without legal validity) - 5 zl (ca 1,5 USD)
  • Shortended transcript of certificate - 22 zl (ca 7 USD)
  • Full transcript of certificate - 33 zl (ca 10 USD)

There is also an option that records can be send to the nearest Polish consulate in your country and you will be notified to make payment in your local currency, but this way is more expensive.

Parishes

The results of writing to parishes can vary greatly. You may get a great deal of information, or you may get no answer at all. Some clergy are willing to provide considerable information, while others are not.

You can include a small donation (eg. $10-20 USD) in the envelope. It may increase your chance in getting a response, but remember there are no guarantees.

The Polish Martial Status Platform Services (Platforma Usług Stanu Cywilnego, or PLUSC) maintains a list of Roman Catholic parishes. Note that you will need to use Polish characters to get results, which may be found here.

Remember that in some cities there are more that one parish. Usually you need to determine the oldest one, where helpful records are most likely kept.

Church archives

A great number of records kept in Catholic Church archives in Poland are microfilmed and records can be ordered to your nearest Family History Center. Before you write to church archives, please try to determine if records are kept in other places.

Each church archive has its own rules:

  • Some provide research, but not all do.
  • Some diocese records are kept in parishes and archives only possess microfilms.
  • Some church archives do not use computers nor e-mail.

Please do not include any money in the envelope, especially if you are not sure if the archive provides research services.

How To Address the Envelope

For a Roman Catholic Parish
Parafia Rzymsko-Katolicka
(street name and number)
(postal code) (name of locality)
POLAND

For a Protestant Parish
Parafia Ewangelicka
(street name and number)
(postal code) (name of locality)
POLAND

In Poland approximately 134 protestant parishes exist. Some records formerly found in such parishes may now be archived in local Catholic parishes. For a list of the Protestant parishes in Poland, and their addresses, you can visit the Lutheran Church in Poland for a listing of Lutheran parishes which are in existence today.

Additionally if there was not a local protestant church, many baptisms would be performed by local Catholic churches.

For an Orthodox Parish
Parafia Prawoslawna
(street name and number)
(postal code) (name of locality)
POLAND

For a Civil Registration Office
Urząd Stanu Cywilnego
(street name and number)
(postal code) (name of locality)
POLAND

For State Archive
Urząd Stanu Cywilnego
(street name and number)
(postal code) (name of locality)
POLAND

How To Write a Letter in Polish

  • If you need help with composing a letter in Polish you can ask for help in the Genealodzy.pl forum. The General Discussion allows English there.
  • You can also hire a professional genealogist from Poland. You will be responsible for charges, which vary for this type of service.
  • You may also wish to prepare your letter by yourself using following tips. Before mailing it out, it is advisable to have it reviewed by someone fluent in Polish.

Your letter should include:

  • The date (at the top).
  • The name and address of the addressee.
  • A greeting.
  • A brief introduction.
  • Biographical information about your ancestor.
  • A short, specific genealogical request.
  • Referral request(s).
  • A comment about payment(s).
  • Closing remarks.
  • Your signature.
  • Your return address, to include your country.
  • Be brief and to the point without asking for too much at one time.

The English-to-Polish translations found below will help you in composing your letter. Read the sentences in English and choose the Polish phrases that best express what you wish to say. Be sure to arrange your sentences logically. It may help you to first write out your sentences in English, then replace those sentences with their Polish translations.

However you proceed, make sure you type or neatly print your letter and, when necessary, add any diacritical marks and special characters (such as ą, ę, ł, ż) using your computer's wordprocessing program or a pen. On most computers, you can simply highlight the text here, and paste it into your preferred word processing program and the special characters are usually kept intact. If not, FontMeme.com offers instructions how to insert special characters for both Windows and Mac.

Do not use this guide as the letter itself! That may insult the recipient and lessen the chance of a reply.

Writing Dates

Write dates in the European style: DD Month YYYY, writing the full name of the month and the full the year (1845, not '45). You can also use numbers (01-12) to specify months. For example, April 7, 1890 should be written as 7 kwietnia 1890 or 07.04.1890.

The following names of the months are shown in their possessive form, which is used in writing dates:

  • January - stycznia
  • February - lutego
  • March - marca
  • April - kwietnia
  • May - maja
  • June - czerwca
  • July - lipca
  • August - sierpnia
  • September - września
  • October - października
  • November - listopada
  • December - grudnia

Greetings

Depending on to whom your letter is addressed, you will choose one of the following greetings. This will also affect some of your later sentences. The following sentences were written in the format of the first greeting. When addressing a priest or pastor, use the appropriate word indicated in parentheses.

English Polish
1.Dear Sirs (Civil officer) 1. Szanowni Państwo,
2. Dear priest (Catholic or Orthodox) 2. Drogi Księże,
3. Dear Pastor (Protestant) 3. Drogi Pastorze,

Introductions

English Polish
4. I live in the United States, but my ancestry is from Poland, and I would like to know more about my Polish ancestors. 4. Mieszkam w Stanach Zjednoczonych, ale moi przodkowie są polskiego pochodzenia. Chcę dowiedzieć się więcej o moich przodkach.
5. I am preparing a history of my ancestors in Poland and need information from your vital records. 5. Przygotowuję historię moich przodków z Polski i poszukuję pewnych danych z ksiąg metrykalnych.
6. My ancestors come from Poland. I would like to know more about them. 6. Moi przodkowie pochodzą z Polski. Poszukuję o nich informacji.
7. The following person is my ancestor who was born in Poland. I will give you all the vital data I have for this person. 7. Następująca osoba jest moim przodkiem, który urodził się w Polsce. Podaję wszystkie dane jakie mam o niej.
8. The following persons are my ancestors who were born in Poland. I will give all the vital data about them that I have. 8. Następujące osoby są moimi przodkami, którzy urodzili się w Polsce. Podaję wszystkie dane jakie mam o nich.

Biographical Information

9. Offer as much pertinent information as possible. Use only those items below for which you can give accurate information that is relevant to your request. Do not give information about events that occurred after the ancestor left Poland.

English Polish
a. Given name and surname: a. Imię i nazwisko:
b. Date of birth (approximate): b. Data urodzenia (w przybliżeniu):
c. Place of birth: c. Miejsce urodzenia:
d. Date of christening: d. Data chrztu:
e. Place of christening: e. Miejsce chrztu:
f. Father's given name and surname: f. Imię i nazwisko ojca:
g. Mother's given name and maiden name: g. Imię nazwisko panieńskie matki:
h. Husband's given name and surname: h. Imię i nazwisko męża:
i. Wife's given name and maiden name: i. Imię i nazwisko panieńskie żony:
j. Date of marriage: j. Data ślubu:
k. Place of marriage: k. Miejsce ślubu:
l. Date of death: l. Data zgonu:
m. Place of death: m. Miejsce zgonu:
n. Date of emigration: n. Data emigracji:
o. Religion: o. Wyznanie:
  • Roman Catholic - rzymskokatolickie
  • Greek Catholic - greckokatolickie
  • Orthodox - prawosławne
  • Protestant - ewangelickie
  • Jewish - żydowskie

Genealogical Requests

English Polish
10. Could you please check your birth registers from (full year) to (full year) for the birth of this person? 10. Chcę prosić o znalezienie świadectwa urodzenia tej osoby w przedziale od (year) do (year)?
11. Please send a complete extract or copy of the birth or christening record of (1) this person. (2) these persons. 11. Proszę o przesłanie mi pełnego odpisu lub kserokopii świadectwa urodzenia albo chrztu (1) tej osoby. (2) tych osób.
12. Please send me a complete extract of the marriage record of (1) this person. (2) this person's parents. 12. Proszę o przesłnani mi pełnego odpisu świadectwa ślubu (1) tej osoby. (2) rodziców tej osoby.
13. I believe that (name) died in your locality about (full year). I would like a complete extract or copy of the death record. 13. Przypuszczam, że (name) zmarł (ancestor in masculine form; or zmarła in feminine form) w tej miejscowości około roku (full year). Proszę o przesłanie mi pełnego odpisu lub kserokopii świadectwa zgonu tej osoby.
14. I would like to know more about the family of this person. I would be grateful if you would provide the names and birth dates of the brothers and sisters and a copy of the marriage record of the parents. 14. Chiciałbym (the writer in masculine form; or Chiciałabym in feminine form) dowiedzieć się więcej o rodzinie tej osoby. Byłbym wdzięczny (the writer in masculine form; or Byłabym wdzięczna in feminine form) za podanie nazwisk i dat urodzenia braci i sióstr oraz kopię świadectwa ślubu rodziców.
15. I would like to locate any relatives who may be living in your area. My ancestor was (name). He (she) left for the United States in the year (year). He (she) resided in (town) before his (her) departure. If you know of any persons of this name or relatives of the family, I would be grateful if you would give this letter to them so that they can contact me. 15. Chiciałbym (the writer in masculine form; or Chiciałabym in feminine form) znaleźć członka mojej rodziny, który (ancestor in masculine form; orktóra in feminine form) prawdopodobnie żyje w Pana (księdza, if addressing a priest; Pastora, if addressing a pastor) okolicy. Nazwisko mojego przodka to (name). Wyjechał on (ancestor in masculine form, or Wyjechała ona in feminine form) do Stanów Zjednoczonych w roku (full year). Przed wyjazdem mieszkał on (ancestor in masculine form, or mieszkała ona in feminine form) w miejscowości o nazwie (town in Polish). Gdyby Pan (Ksiądz, for priest; or Pastor for pastor) znał kogoś o tym nazwisku albo krewnych jego (ancestor in masculine form; or jej in feminine form) rodziny, byłbym wdzięczny (byłabym for the writer in masculine form; or wdzięczna in feminine form) za przekazanie im tego listu, aby mogli oni skontaktować się ze mną.
16. I have searched the records for your parish covering the time period from (date) to (date). However, I need records for the years (year) to (year). Could you please inform me as to where these records can be found? 16. Prowadziłem poszukiwania (for writer in masculine form; or Prowadziłam for feminine form) zapisów dokonywanych w tej parafii w okresie od (date) do (date). Chiałbym (for writer in masculine form; or Chiałabym in feminine form) teraz otrzymać dane z przedziału lat od (year) do (year). Czy mógłby mnie Pan (Ksiądz if addressing a priest; Pastor if addressing a pastor), poinformować, gdzie mogę znaleźć te zapisy?
17. My relative worked as a (occupation) in (city). Do you have any information about this person? 17. Mój krewny pracował (ancestor in masculine form; or pracowała in feminine form) jako (occupation) w miejscowości o nazwie (city). Czy ma Pan (Ksiądz if addressing a priest; Pastor if addressing a pastor), jakiekolwiek informacje o nim (for ancestor in masculine form; or niej in feminine form)?
18. I need information from the parish registers of the Protestant parish in (town); in German, (town). I will be most grateful if you would inform me where the records of this Protestant parish are presently found. 18. Poszukuję danych z ksiąg parafialnych Kościoła Ewangelickiego z miejscowości (town); której niemiecka nazwa brzmiała (town). Byłbym bardzo wdzięczny (for writer in masculine form; or Byłabym bardzo wdzięczna in feminine form) za informacje, gdzie są teraz te zapisy.
19. My ancestor was a Greek-Catholic. He (she) resided in (town). I would like to locate the christening and marriage records of the Greek-Catholic parish. Are these records available in your (1) parish office? (2) archive? If you do not have the records, could you provide the address where they may be found? 19. Mój przodek był Greko-Katolikiem (ancestor in masculine form; or Greko-Katoliczką in feminine form). Mieszkał on (ancestor in masculine form; or Mieszkała ona in feminine form) w miejscowości (town). Chicałbym (writer in masculine form; or Chicałabym in feminine form) znaleźć jego (ancestor in masculine form; or jejin feminine form) świadectwo urodzenia i ślubu. Czy są one dostępne w Pana (Księdza if addressing a priest; Pastora if addressing a pastor), (1) biurze? (2) archiwum? Jeśli Pan (Ksiądz if addressing a priest; Pastor if addressing a pastor) ich nie ma, czy mógłbym (writer in masculine form; or mógłabym in feminine form) dowiedzieć się, gdzie one są?
20. For my family research I need information from the Jewish records of births, marriages, and deaths from your community. Do you know where such records are presently located? 20. Do badań historii mojej rodziny, potrzebne są mi dane z żydowskich świadectw urodzin, ślubów oraz śmierci z Pana (Księdza if addressing a priest; Pastora if addressing a pastor), okolicy. Czy Pan wie, gdzie są obecnie takie zapisy?

Referral Requests

English Polish
21. If you do not have the necessary records, I request that you provide the address of the place where such records can be found. 21. Jeśli Pan (Ksiądz if addressing a priest; Pastor if addressing a pastor), nie dysponuje informacjami, których potrzebuję, chicałbym (writer in masculine form; or chicałabym in feminine form) dowiedzieć się gdzie mogę je znaleźć.
22. If you are unable to do this research for me, could you please recommend a local researcher that I could hire for this purpose - someone who speaks some English, if possible. 22. Jeśli otrzymanie powyższych informacji jest niemoźliwe, czy mógłby Pan (Ksiądz if addressing a priest; Pastor if addressing a pastor) podać mi adres kogoś z tamtej okolicy, kto - za wynagrodzeniem - zechiałby mi pomóc i jeśli to możliwe, zna trochę język angielski.

Payment

English Polish
23. Would you please inform me if it is possible to obtain photocopies from your records, and the cost of such copies? 23. Czy można otrzymać kserokopie dokumentów i za jaką opłatą?
24. Please let me know how I can make a donation to your parish in gratitude for your help. 24. Proszę o informację w jaki sposób mogę w ramach wdzięczności za okazaną pomoc złożyć ofiarę na kościół?
25. I have enclosed ($ amount) as a donation for your parish. 25. Załączam kwote (amount) dolarów jako ofiarę na kościół.
26. Thank you very much for your help. I have enclosed ($ amount). 26. Dziękuję bardzo za pomoc. Załączam kwotę (amount) dolarów.
27. Please let me know the cost of your help and how I can pay. 27. Proszę o informację ile się należy za pomoc i w jaki sposób mogę za nią zapłacić.

Closing Remarks and Return Address

English Polish
28. I thank you in advance for your assistance. 28. Z góry dziękuję za pomoc.
29. Respectfully, (or With regards,) 29. Z szacunkiem,
30. Sincerely, 30. Z poważaniem,
31. My address is: (address) 31. Mój adres: (address)

Follow-up

Use these sentences in follow-up letters as needed.

English Polish
32. Thank you for the information you have sent. It has helped me very much. 32. Dziękuję za nadesłane informacje. Bardzo mi one pomogły.
33. I need further information about one of the individuals you mentioned in your letter. This is (name). 33. Poszukuję dalszych informacji o (name) wspomnianym (ancestor in masculine form; or wspomnianej in feminine form) w Pana (Księdza, if addressing a Priest; Pastora, if addressing a pastor') liście.
34. I have already received from you the following information about this person: 34. Dotychczas otrzymałem (writer in masculine form; or otrzymałam in feminine form) od Pana (Księdza, if addressing a priest; Pastora, if addressing a pastor) następujące informacje o tej osobie:
35. I am enclosing a letter I sent you on (date). Please write and tell me if you can do this research. 35. Załączam kopię listu, który wysłałem ci na (date). Proszę mi napisać i powiedz mi, czy można zrobić to badanie.

Example Letter: Polish

English Polish
Date 28 sierpnia 2006
Addressee Parafia Rzymsko-Katolicka
32-720 Nowy Wiśnicz
POLAND
Greeting Drogi Księże,
Introduction Mieszkam Stanach Zjednoczonych, ale moi przodkowie są polskiego pochodzenia. Chiciałbym dowiedzieć się więcej o moich polskich przodkach.
Następująca osoba jest moim przodkiem urodzonym w Polsce. Podaję
wszystkie dane, jakie mam o niej.
Biographical Information Imię i nazwisko: Joannes KRUPA
Data urodzenia: 15 maja 1877
Miejsce urodzenia: Połom Duży
Genealogical Request Proszę o przeslanie mi pełnego odpisu świadectwa urodzenia albo chrztu tej osoby.
Referral Request Jeśli Ksiądz nie dysponuje informacjami, których portrzebuję, chciałbym dowiedzieć się, gdzie mogę je znaleźć.
Payment Załączam kwote 10 dolarów jako ofiarę na kościół.
Closing Z góry dziękuję za pomoc. Z poważaniem.
Signature (signature)
Return Address Mój adres:
John Doe
674 "Q" Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84103
USA

Other Forms and French Translation

Other letter writing forms that may meet your needs are available from the Polish Genealogical Society of America website.

For the French translation of the Polish Letter Writing Guide click here.


 

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