Poland, Roman Catholic Church Books (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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Access the records: Poland, Radom Diocese Church Books, 1654-1946 .
Foreign Language Title
Polska, Księgi metrykalne
Collection Time Period
The earliest Catholic Church records in Poland date from 1537 but very few records exist from the 1500s; many date from the 1600s and 1700s to the present. Starting dates vary depending upon the region. This collection includes records from about 1600 to 1946.
In 1563, the Catholic Church (Council of Trent) issued the first mandate to keep a record of baptisms and marriages. The Council of Piotrków in 1607 re-emphasized the need for record keeping in Poland. A general church directive in 1614 additionally required the keeping of death records, and this was emphasized in Poland by the 1631 Piotrków Ritual. Roman Catholic records are generally in the Latin language. Other churches also kept such records. In 1595 Orthodox Ukrainians were formally brought into union with the Roman Catholic Church, retaining their orthodox liturgy and doctrine. Their records are kept in Old Church Slavonic, Polish, Latin, and Ukrainian. Luther’s teachings (Augsburg Confession) had only a small following among the Polish people, but did become firmly established in Poland among the German population. Those Protestants who accepted the creed of the Swiss reformers (Zwingli and Calvin) were called Evangelical Reformed. Records for this collection are in Latin, Polish and Russian.
Why These Records Were Created
Parish registers were created by the local priest to record important Church sacraments and to report vital statistics to civil authorities.
Keeping of registers was an important religious and civil obligation. The records are reliable.
Parish register volumes come in various sizes but are normally large bound books. Information is given in a narrative format containing a mixture of standard phrasing and the names and dates of those involved.
The key genealogical facts found in most baptism records are:
- Name of individual
- Date of birth and baptism
- Names of parents (early records often omit the mother’s name)
- Some records list the names of the child’s grandparents
The key genealogical facts found in most marriage records are:
- Names of bride and groom
- Date and place of marriage
- Bride and groom's ages, sometimes their birthplaces
- Parents' names
- Witnesses' names
The key genealogical facts found in most death or burial records are:
- Name of the deceased
- Date and place of death and burial
- Deceased's age at time of death
- Cause of death
- Sometimes date and place of birth
- Marital status
- If married, the name of the spouse
- Names of parents
How to Use the Record
Entries are normally made separately for baptisms, marriages and burials, in chronological order. In later years, separate volumes were created for each sacrament type. If there isn't a separate index volume, page through the entries chronologically.
Begin your search by finding your ancestors in the index. Name indexes to baptisms, marriages, and death or burials make it possible to access a specific record quickly. Remember that these indexes may contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned.
When searching the index it is helpful to know the following:
• The place where the event occurred.
• The name and surname of the person.
• The approximate date of the event.
• The name of the parents or spouse.
Use the locator information found in the index (such as page, entry, or certificate number) to locate your ancestors in the records. Compare the information in the record to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct person. You may need to compare the information of more than one person to make this determination.
When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. Add this new information to your records of each family.
• Use the marriage date and place as the basis for compiling a new family group or for verifying existing information.
• Use the birth date or age along with the place of birth of each partner to find a couple's birth records and parents' names.
• Use the birth date or age along with the place of birth to find the family in census records.
• Use the residence and names of the parents to locate church and land records.
• Occupations listed can lead you to employment records or other types of records such as military records.
• Use the parent’s birth places to find former residences and to establish a migration pattern for the family.
• The name of the celebrant is a clue to their religion or area of residence in the county. However, ministers may have reported marriages performed in other counties.
• Compile the marriage entries for every person who has the same surname as the bride or groom; this is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual.
• Continue to search the marriage records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives of the bride and groom who may have married in the same county or nearby. This can help you identify other generations of your family or even the second marriage of a parent. Repeat this process for each new generation you identify.
• Use the marriage number to identify previous marriages.
• When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
Keep in mind:
• The information in church records is usually reliable, but depends upon the reliability of the informant and the diligence of the recorder.
• Earlier records may not contain as much information as the records created after the late 1800.
• There is also some variation in the information given from one record to another.
If you are unable to find the ancestors you are looking for, try the following:
• Check for variant spellings of the surnames, particularly phonetic variants.
• Check for a different index. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume.
• Search the indexes and records of nearby localities.
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Sources of This Collection
“Poland, Roman Catholic Church Books, 1600-1946,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/); from Archiwum Archidiecezjalne – Lublin, Poland (http://www.kuria.lublin.pl/kuria/#archiwum). “Poland, Roman Catholic Church Books.” FHL Digital capture DGS Folders. Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.
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