Poland Military Records
Military records identify individuals who served in the military or who were eligible for service. Most young men were required to serve in or register for military service in Poland. Evidence that an ancestor actually served may be found in biographies or family, census, probate, civil registration, or church records.
Military records of Poland exist as early as the 1500s. After the partitions, each area of Poland had its own distinctive system of keeping military records pertaining to the Austrian, Russian, or Prussian government. The Family History Library has very little in the way of military records from the Russian and Prussian territories but does have records from the former Austrian areas.
Military records include muster rolls, conscription lists, and draft registers. For officers these records provide information about soldiers’ military careers, such as promotions, places served, pensions, and conduct. In addition, these records usually include information about age, birthplace, residence, occupation, physical description, and family members. For regular soldiers, however, the information provided is not nearly so detailed.
The records available at the Family History Library were acquired from the War Archives (Kriegsarchiv) in Vienna. They include records for soldiers from Galicia, which is now the southern part of Poland.
Muster rolls and foundation books are personnel files on all Austrian soldiers. They provide names, birthplaces and dates, religions, personal descriptions, dates of induction, and remarks. The archive in Vienna has these records through 1869, and these are the only records that have been microfilmed. The records are arranged by regiment or unit and time period.
You must determine the military unit your ancestor belonged to. If the records of your ancestor do not provide this information, it may be possible to learn which units were inducted in the area where he lived.
To do this, you must know at least the town where he was living when he was of age to serve in the military.
For the most part, foundation books of Polish soldiers after 1869 have been turned over to the Polish government. These later records are in Polish military archives and are not accessible for genealogical researchers.
Qualification lists of officers are arranged alphabetically for the whole Austrian empire for 1828–1918. They provide names of officers, personal descriptions, dates and places of birth, religions, and service records, including units served in, commands, and decorations.
Military records in Vienna are being microfilmed by the Family History Department. More information on these records is found in:
Blodgett, Steven W. Great-grandfather was in the Imperial Cavalry: using Austrian Military Records as an Aid to Writing Family History. Salt Lake City, Utah: Corporation of the President, 1980. (FHL book 929.1 W893 1980 v. 7 pt. 4; fiche 6085770.)
Military records can be of great genealogical value but are not generally practical for research. They are difficult to access, organized poorly, and not indexed. Other sources, such as church records and civil registration, are more accessible and contain much of the same information.