Poland Letter Writing GuideEdit This Page

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Contents

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 Family History Library 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 three 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 Europe, determine what religion he or she practiced after immigrating. People usually did not change religions when they moved frm Europe to their new home.
  • 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.

Research by Mail

Church records are obtained from parishes, and civil records are obtained from civil registration offices. Both kinds of records may be stored in archives. In 1874 civil registration became mandatory in Poland, yet it started at different times throughout the country. If the dates you need precede 1874, you will need to write for church records.

If you address your letter to a parish or local civil registration office, you must write the letter in Polish. Letters written in Polish have a greater chance of receiving a reply than those written in English. You may write in English to the Directorate of the State Archives.

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 exist ca 134 protestant parishes. Some records formerly found in such parishes may be housed in local Catholic parishes. For a list of the Protestant parishes in Poland and their addresses you can visit the following website www.luteranie.pl for a listing of Lutheran parishes which are in existence today. 

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

Civil Registration address finder

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


Postal Codes

When addressing your letter, you will need to write the postal (zip) code in front of the name of the town you are writing to. For help finding postal codes for Poland, see:

Oficjalny spis pocztowych numerów adresowych (Official zip code directory for Poland). (FHL book Ref Area 943.8 E8o.)

If your town is not listed, use the following gazetteer to determine where the closest post office is located:

Spis miejscowości Polskiej Rzeczypospolitej Ludowej (Gazetteer of Localities of the Polish People's Republic). (FHL book Ref Area 943.8 E5s, film 2037058 item 2.)

Towns in Poland are listed alphabetically. The post office is given in the fifth column, under the heading "Poczta."  However, many of the post offices localities have been changed since this book was published.

Payments

Writing to a Parish. When writing to a parish, it is a good idea to send a donation of $5.00 to $10.00 as a courtesy. Do not send a personal check, which is difficult and expensive to exchange in Europe. Cash is better since it is most easily converted to European currency, but be aware of the risks in sending it. 

Writing to a Civil Registration Office. When writing to the local civil registration office, it is not necessary to include money. The Polish Consulate will bill you for this service. You will be asked to send a certified check. After the payment is received the document will be mailed to you.

Writing to Government Organizations. When writing to the State Archives, do not send money in your first letter. The staff will bill you for their services. You may be asked to make the check payable to the archive's account number. If you wish, you may write first to determine its fees before making a request. However, This will significantly increase the time it takes to get information.

What To Expect

It may take six months or longer for you to receive a reply to your request for information. Airmail improves the response time. The results of writing to parishes or civil registration offices can vary greatly. You may get a great deal of information, or you may get no answer at all. Some clergy and civil registrars are willing and able to provide considerable information, while others are not.

When you receive a reply, send the requested payment and a note of thanks or acknowledgement. If you need to request further information, refer to your earlier letters and their return letters by date. You may want to include photocopies of any previous correspondence. If the archive assigned you a reference number, include that number as well.

Use Polish-English dictionaries to help you understand the reply. Sometimes you can hire accredited genealogists to translate for you. The Family History Library also has published a Genealogical Word List in Polish (34098), which may be helpful.

If you do not receive an answer, write again, sending a copy of your first letter. Do not send more money unless you verify that your first letter did not arrive.

How To Write a Letter 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
  • Closing remarks
  • Your signature
  • Your return address (including your country)
  • Be brief and to the point. Do not ask for too much at one time.

The English-to-Polish translations found below will help you compose your letter. Read the sentences in English and choose those that best express what you want to say. Be sure to arrange your sentences logically. You may want to use the following English sentences to write your letter and then replace the 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, ć, ę, ł, ń, ó, ś, ź, and ż) with a pen.

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

Writing Dates

Write dates in the European style: day-month-year. Write the full name of the month. Write the year in full (1845, not '45). For example, April 7, 1890 should be written as 7 kwietnia 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 pażdziernika
November listopada
December grudnia

You can also use numbers to specify months, eg. 04 - for April (07.04.1890).

Greetings

Depending on whom your letter is addressed to, 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 Gov) 1.Szanowni Państwo,
2. Dear priest
(Catholic or Orthodox)
2. Drogi Księże,
3. Dear Pastor
(Protestant)
3. Drogi Pastorze,

Introductions

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. Chciałbym (chiciałabym, if you are a female) dowiedzieć się więcej o moich polskich 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, dlatego potrzebne są mi pewne dane z ksiąg metrykalnych.
6. My ancestors come from Poland. I would like to know more about them.

6. Moi przodkowie pochodzą z Polski. Chciałbym (Chiciałabym, if you are a female) więcej się o nich dowiedzieć.
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 urodzonym 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 urodzonymi w Polsce. Podaję wszystkie dane jakie mam o nich.

Biographical Information

Give 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.

9. a. Given name and surname: 9. 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: Roman Catholic
          Greek Catholic
          Orthodox
          Protestant
          Jewish
o. Wyznanie: rzymsko katolickie
          grecko katolickie
          prawosławne
          ewangelickie
          żydowskie

Genealogical Requests

10. Could you please check your birth registers from (year) to (year) for the birth of this person?   
10. Czy mógłby Pan (Ksiądz, Pastor) znaleźć 
świadectwo urodzenia tej osoby w przedziale
lat od (year) do (year)?

11. Please send a complete extract of the birth or christening record of (1) this person. (2) these persons. 11. Proszę o przesłanie mi pełnego odpisu
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. Prozę o przesłnani mi pełnego odpisu świadectwa ślubu (1) tej osoby. (2) jego
(jej, if the ancestor is a female) rodziców.

13. I believe that (name) died in your locality about (year). I would like a complete extract of the death record.


13. Przypuszczam, że (name) zmarł (zmarła, if the deceased ancestor is a female) w tej miejscowości około roku (year). Proszę o przesłanie mi pełnego odpisu 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 (Chiciałabym, if you are a female) dowiedzieć się więcej o rodzinie tej osoby. Byłbym wdzięczny (Byłabym wdzięczna, if you are a female) 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 (Chiciałabym, if you are a female) znaleźć członka mojej rodziny, który (która, if the ancestor is a female) prawdopodobnie żyje w Pana (księdza, if addressing a priest; Pastora, if addressing a pastor) okolicy. Nazwisko mojego przodka to (name). Wyjechał on (Wyjechała ona, if the ancestor is a female) do Stanów Zjednoczonych w roku (year). Przed wyjazdem mieszkał on (mieszkała ona, if the ancestor is a female) w miejscowości o nazwie (town). Gdyby Pan (Ksiądz, if addressing a priest; Pastor, if addressing a pastor) znał kogoś o tym nazwisku albo krewnych jego (jej, if the ancestor is a female) rodziny, byłbym wdzięczny (byłabym wdzięczna, if you are a female) 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 (prowadziłam, if you are a
female) zapisów dokonywanych w tej parafii w okresie od (date) do (date). Chiałbym (Chiałabym, if you are a female) 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 (pracowała, if the ancestor
is a female) jako (occupation) w miejscowości o
nazwie (city). Czy ma Pan (Ksiądz, if addressing a
priest; Pastor, if addressing a pastor) jakiekolwiek
informacje o nim (niej, if the ancestor is a female)?

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 (Byłabym bardzo wdzięczna, if you are a female) 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 (Greko-Katoliczką, if the ancestor is a female). Mieszkał on (Mieszkała ona, if the ancestor is a female) w miejscowości (town). Chicałbym (Chicałabym, if you are a female) znaleźć jego (jej, if the ancestor is a female) świadectwo urodzenia i ślubu. Czy są one dostępne w Pana (Księdza, if addressing a priest; Pastora, if addressing a pastor) (1) biurze? (2) archiwach? Jeśli Pan (Ksiądz, if addressing a priest; Pastor, if addressing a pastor) ich nie ma, czy mógłbym (mógłabym, if you are a female) 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  źydowskich 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

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
(chicałabym, if you are a female) 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 powyźszych 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

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 an
offering to your parish in
gratitude for your help.
24. Czy wolno mi, jako wyraz 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 napisać do mnie, ile się należy za pomoc i w jaki sposób mogę za nią zapłacić.

Closing Remarks and Return Address

28. I thank you in advance      
for your assistance.
28. Z góry dziękuję za pomoc.

29. Respectfully,
      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.

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 (wspomnianej,
if the ancestor is a female) 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 
(otrzymałam, if you are a
female) 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. Dotychczas otrzymałem 
(otrzymałam, if you are a
female) od Pana (Księdza,
if addressing a priest;
Pastora, if addressing a
pastor) następujące
informacje o tej osobie:

Example Letter: 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
Requests
 

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 



Return 
Address
 



Moj 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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