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Historians estimate that during the 19th century more than 85 percent of the world’s Jews lived in Europe.
Most of these lived in Poland and Russia. Many books have been written about Jews in Poland. You can often find these in a public or university library.
The Family History Library has microfilmed many Jewish records in Poland and is continually adding to the collection. There are extensive records from the former Russian and German areas of Poland, but fewer for the Austrian areas of Poland. For those areas not yet microfilmed, you may write to the local civil registration office.
At first Jews were included in Catholic civil registers. The earliest civil registration of Polish Jews was in the former Austrian territory of Galicia in 1787, but it was not enforced until the mid-19th century. The Duchy of Warsaw, which later constituted the Russian territory of Poland, began civil registration in 1808. In areas of Prussian rule, Jews were required to prepare transcripts of vital records beginning in the early 1800s. Microfilmed civil records are usually available to 1875. You may obtain information regarding records not filmed and still in Poland by writing to the headquarters of the Polish State Archives (see Poland Archives and Libraries).
For further information about Jewish research see the Internet site:
Also see Jewish Genealogy Research.
For information regarding locations of Polish Jewish records, see:
Weiner, Miriam. Jewish Roots in Poland, Pages from the Past and Archival Inventories. New York, New York: Yivo Institute for Jewish Research, 1997. (FHL book 943.8 F2wm.)
Jewish Vital Records in Russian Poland (Congress Poland, Kingdom of Poland)
Catholic Civil Transcripts were written in the Polish language.
Separate Jewish Registers were written in the Polish language except for the 1868 -1917 time period in which they were written in Russian.
Records older than 100 years are kept in regional branches of the Polish State Archives [Archiwum Państwowe]. Many of these records, usually up to around 1865 or later for some towns, have been microfilmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah. Records less than 100 years are kept in the town's civil registration office [Urząd Stanu Cywilnego].
For many years, the Kielce-Radom Special Interest Group has been indexing Jewish vital records from that area of Poland, publishing the data in their printed Journal. There are plans to merge all of their indexing effort into the Jewish Records Indexing - Poland database which now contains more than 3.7 million records. It is estimated that the Kielce-Radom data will add more than 50,000 records.
A list of all the towns indexed and which years and record types, can be found at http://www.jewishgen.org/jri-pl/kr-sig/krsig_town_records_in_all_issues.htm.
Given Names Data Bases (GNDB)
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