Introducing Source Inventories

A Milestone in the History of JRI-Poland

After four years of visualization and development, intensive research and detailed preparation, this week we are proud and excited to announce the JRI-Poland Source Inventories for the Town Explorer cards.   

Source Inventories include all types of record sources that allow us to delve deep into our ancestry.  Vital Records, for example, issued by the government (civil) or created by the Jewish community (kahal), detail the principal life events of a person — birth, death, marriage, divorce, and marriage alegata.  (Alegata are supporting documents to a vital life event that establish identity, age and/or marital status.) 

Non-Vital Records, on the other hand, encompass records associated with all parameters of daily life and interactions in society, such as books of residents, census registers, notarial and attorney records, court records, school records, conscription lists, identification cards, tax records, voter lists, and cause of death and burial records. For some towns, there are no known surviving records or few, if any, records of genealogical value.  

You can now see at a glance what sources are known to be available for your town of interest.

Researchers will recall the Legacy website’s “Your Town” pages that listed only available years of vital records for approximately 600 towns.  There are now Source Inventories displaying on the Town Explorer cards for the majority of our 1,900 towns, including the 800+ towns with known surviving civil Jewish vital records registers.  Also displayed are more than 5,000 surviving notarial record collections from between 1810 and the post-World War II era, and various other record sources.

Here, for example, is part of the Source Inventory for Aleksandrów Łódzki as it appears on its Town Explorer card.  Note the drop-down buttons that open up to display the details of each source.

Source Inventory for Aleksandrów Łódzki as it appears on its Town Explorer card

The history of the Source Inventory project

From the very beginning of the NextGen website dream, JRI-Poland leadership has had one goal:  to provide researchers with the information they need to know.  But, building the back-end database, the raw material that enables you to see your town’s records displayed in a convenient and easily accessible way, has only been possible through the confluence of several major factors.  It began with the vision of board member Bryan Langer, who inspired the NextGen website initiative and whose refined sense of design has led to the overall look and feel of our attractive new website and to the foundations of our inventory.

As the NextGen vision expanded and the project grew, board member and Assistant Director Robinn Magid stepped in as Project Manager.

The journey continued when fellow board member Howard Zakai volunteered to be the JRI-Poland Assets Manager, charged with cataloguing the tens of thousands of record sources in a way compatible with the technological horizons opened by the NextGen vision.  While the recognition of the needed features has been there from the beginning, hammering out the details, refining the applications, and assembling and populating the back-end database with the record information, has been a monumental task.  Many volunteers have contributed to getting us to this point and we thank each and every one for their contributions.

Another defining moment was the introduction of the new Polish State Archives (National Digital Archives [NAC]) website and search system –  The design of the new website has made it far easier to uncover the broad range of readily available records to be included in the Source Inventories for our towns.   

Ongoing roll out of Source Inventories

A key feature of the Source Inventory organization is enabling us to quickly and easily add source information not yet included in the initial launch.  It will also simplify keeping the source information up to date as we learn of new collections or just to modify the years of available records as they are transferred from town Civil Records Offices to branches of the Polish State Archives.  Researchers can look to JRI-Poland’s Town Explorer Source Inventories for growing and improving information about their towns of interest – particularly meaningful for towns whose vital records registers have not survived.