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The Szlachta or Polish Nobility
- Was established in the Middle Ages and persisted at some level until abolished by the March Constitution in 1921
- Probably originated as Slavic warriors and protectors of the state
- Noble status could be granted for special services to the state
- Noble status was hereditary, but was inherited only by those born in wedlock to parents who were both members of the nobility
- Only members of the nobility could own land
- At one point, 6.6-8.0% of the total population of Poland and 16% or more of all ethnic Poles were members of the nobility
- Unlike other European nobility, Polish nobles sharing ancestry also shared a coat of arms
- Mainly documented the lives of the nobility-predated existing vital records
- Include registers of the local tribunals for nobles (from the 15th-18th century)
- Books are not indexed and must be searched page by page
- Most records are written in Latin, but some are written in Polish. Frequently, there will be mixture of Latin and Polish in the same record.
Locating Court Records at AGAD
Various division of the AGAD or the Central Archives of Historical Records in Warsaw are in charge od the following records:
- AGAD Division 1: Records prior to 1795
- AGAD Division 2: Records from 1795-1918
- AGAD Division 3: Genealogy Archives and Private Collections
- AGAD Division 4: Map Collections
- AGAD Division 5: Information, Records, and Public Resources
Archiwum Główne Akt Dawnych w Warszawie
ul. DJuga 7
- Search the SEZAM, one of the databases for the Polish Archives. You do not need to use diacritics, but a search should either include all Polish characters or no Polish characters.
- Search for locality names
- Search for księgi ziemskie or księgi grodzkie
- Marek Minakowski's website includes a searchable database of many court records from the Ciechanów, Maków, and Przasnysz areas north of Warsaw. Unfortunately, there is no English interface.
Conducting Research at AGAD
- Registers may be examined by the general public. Some fragile registers are not available for examination, but may be available on microfilm.
- The Reading Room is open Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m. The Reading Room is closed in August and on about 6 holidays. Reading Room hours are reduced on about 4 other days during the year.
- Researchers do not need to request permission in advance in order to conduct research at AGAD. However, researchers must complete a form stating why they want to see the registers.
- Materials may be requested twice a day at 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Non-residents of Warsaw may order up to 10 archival units per day. Materials may be ordered in advance to ensure availability using an online form. Materials ordered at 9:00 a.m. will be available after 1:00 p.m. the same day. Materials ordered at 1:00 p.m. will be available the next day.
- Reading Room has 31 seats; 17 for researchers who would like to inspect original records and 14 for the microfilm readers. There is also a special table for reading maps. Finding aids, dictionaries and some books are on the shelves around the work space.
- Laptop computers may be brought into the Reading Room, but electrical connections are not available. Researchers should bring spare batteries for their laptops.
- Twice a day, all researchers must leave the Reading Room for 15 minutes so that the staff can ventilate the room.
- Archivists may also be hired to conduct research at the rate of $15 per hour, with
payment made by bank transfer. Photocopies are about $2 per page. Photocopies of genealogical or personal records are about $5 per page.