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Censuses (counts and descriptions of populations) have been taken by the various governments of Poland, primarily for population studies, taxation, or military purposes.
The prime value of census records is for grouping families together. Poland has better sources for research, such as church records and civil registration.
The different types of population counts in Polish history have been lustrums (lustracje), household tax registers (rejestry podatkowe: 1675), Prussian population surveys (przeglądy: 1789, 1793, 1797), and municipal revisions (spisy ludności: 1619, 1765, 1792). The Russian area of Poland, called Kingdom of Poland, had a government statistical institution called the Statistical Department with the General Administration Department (Oddział Statystyczny przy Wydziale Administracji Ogólnej), which was founded in 1847 to oversee the collection of statistical reports.
Earliest censuses were taken in 1567, 1676, 1775 (parish census). Contents vary according to the censuses and their purposes. For example, the census of 1793 for the region of South Prussia (area taken by Prussia in the 1793 partition) includes names of adult males and widows, number of people in each household, professions of the householders, but no ages.
In 1772-1773, Prussia conducted a land tax census of all the Polish lands that they acquired in the partition of Poland known as West Prussia. This land tax census, Marburger Auszüge, was for the purpose of finding out the heads of household and a count of family members and taxing the new households. The paper census was held in the Herder Institut, Marburg, Germany. Microfilm copies are held in Scientific Institute, Turin, Poland. The Odessa, Texas Library has acquired a micorfilm copy from Marburg, Germany. Odessa Library created a a digital index of the Polish heads of household ennumerated in the West Prussia land tax census. Anyone can access this index from the Odessa Library collections at : http://www.odessa3.org/collections/land/wprussia
The census of 1790–92 for areas of Poznan (Posen) and Kraków includes school-age children as well as adults and has dates of birth, marriage, and death.
Later census records are more standard and include names of heads of families and their children in chronological order, sex, ages or dates and places of birth, civil status, occupations, duration of residency, and so on.
Many original census returns were destroyed, and only compiled information remains. Some census records still exist in archives but are usually not available to researchers. Some censuses are in the Main Archives of Ancient Documents (Archiwum Główne Akt Dawnych - AGAD) in Warsaw; various district and municipal archives, such as Płock and Kraków; or even local parishes. It is uncertain where most Polish census records are kept, so you may have to contact various archives in the vicinity of the town where your ancestor lived.
The Family History Library has copies of census records for very few towns in Poland. These are listed in the FamilySearch Catalog under:
POLAND, (PROVINCE), (TOWN) CENSUS
Census records can provide information when other records are missing. Use the information with caution, however, since it may have been given to a census taker by any member of the family or a neighbor and could be incorrect.
Finding your ancestor in the census records of a large city, and learning the street where the family lived, will help you search records such as church records and civil registration. Sources that give street addresses for large cities in Poland include:
- City, occupational, or business directories.
- Civil certificates of birth, marriages, and deaths.
- Church records of christenings, burials, and marriages.
- Taxation records.
Census Records [Spisy Ludnoci]
Research Use: These records link families together and greatly supplement the research process. Helpful for establishing family relationships and linkage of generations.
Record Type: Population enumeration. There have been several different types of population counts in Polish history such as lustrums [lustracji], household tax registers [rejestr podatkowy] (1675), Prussian population surveys [przegldy] (1789, 1793, 1797), municipal revisions [rewizja mieszka](1619, 1765, 1792). During the period of the First Republic, and thereafter, relatively complete population records, arranged according to the place of residence, and often providing data on the financial position and the family status, were compiled at the occasion of tax collection. Tax registers are preserved within separate collections or included in, e.g. judicial or municipal records. The Russian area of Poland, called Kingdom of Poland, had a government statistical institution called the Statistical Department [Oddzia Statystyczny przy Wydziale Administracji Ogólnej] founded 1847 to oversee the collection of statistical reports. Austrian census counts were taken in 1770 and 1776. These lists were largely for military purposes. Specific dates of subsequent censuses up to the mid-1800s cannot be determined at this time. The first true census of Austrian territories was conducted in 1857. Afterward, censuses were taken in 1869, 1880, 1890, 1900, and 1910.
Time Period: About 1650 to present
Contents: The content varies according to the census and its purpose. For example the census of 1793 for the region of South Prussia includes names of adult males and widows, number of people in each household; residence, profession (no age). The census of 1790-1792 for areas of Pozna and Kraków includes school age children as well as adults with dates of birth, marriage, and death. Later census records are more standard, including names of heads of families and their children listed in chronological order, sex of individuals, their ages or dates and places of birth, civil status, occupations, duration of residency, etc.
Location: State archives preserve population records from the period from the end of the 18th c. until the 20th c., as well as many censuses of the 19th and 20th centuries. These materials are usually preserved within the fonds of records of institutions that carried out the registration. Main Archives of Ancient Documents [Archiwum Gówne Akt Dawnych - AGAD] in Warsaw; also various district and municipal archives. Such records have been observed in the city archives of Pock and Kraków, and likely exist in many other municipal archives, generally filed under P#27.
Population Coverage: 60 to 90%. Coverage in early and yearly censuses may be limited to specific areas.
Population Registers of Residents, Moves and Arrivals
[Ksigi Ludnoci or Ksigi Mieszkanców]
Research Use: Records identify family members, relationships, provides linkage information, places of birth of parents, previous residence.
Record Type: Registers of current residents, registers of new arrivals and those requesting moves in a community and registers of those with specific occupations such as domestic servants, tradesmen, laborers, etc. These are known to exist in the former Prussian territory and in the former Russian territory. Similar records may exist in the former Austrian areas of Poland as well. Some communities have computerized these registers for the registration of their present population. Exact information on families may be found by looking through 19th and 20th c. residence registration records. They include such data as: the surname and the forename, parents’ forenames, occupation and position, date of birth, denomination (not entered after 1945), national status, relation towards the general obligation of military service, origin (the place that the person came from), place of residence, temporary stay, records of departure (date of moving out and information on the place of destination), endorsement by the registration office (date, signature), comments. KSIĘGI LUDNOŚCI STAŁEJ in Zamosc area Ksiżki Meldunkowe start in the late 1940s, Domowe Ksiżki Meldunkowe start about 1953
Time Period: 1798 to present.
Content: Names of residents, new arrivals and those requesting moves in a community. Includes birth dates, birthplaces, names of parents, names of spouses, names of children, names of relatives, previous residence, dates of removal and arrival, current residence, occupations, and citizenship status.
Location: Town offices, city archives, and state provincial archives.
Population Coverage: 40%.
Reliability: Very good.
- The Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Family History Record Profile: Poland,” Word document, private files of the FamilySearch Content Strategy Team, 1987-1999.