Introduction to Metrical and Civil Registration Books in the Polish State Archives (Full Article)

Translated from the Polish by Dr. George Alexander. Edited by Warren Blatt.

Reprinted with permission from
Kielce-Radom SIG Journal, Volume 4, Number 3, Summer 2000

“Metryka” (in Latin, matricula) denotes a basis, a source of something.  In a more specific meaning, it was used to define entries, registries, census listings of people.  The term “metryka” was used in several meanings: as a book for entries of births, baptisms, marriages and funerals, thus, as a metrical book, but also as a individual document, a certificate, also as a collection of old lists and formal government documents, as well as a separate item in an office, and eventually in an archive, for example the Royal Polish Metrica (Metryka Koronna), Lithuanian Metrica (Metryka Litewska, Lietuvos Metrika).

The spread of metrical books in Europe was speeded up, in large measure, by the Protestant Reformation.  It brought a need of documentation of the faithful, members of opposing churches.  However, it was only the Tridentine Synod (Council of Trent), on 11 Nov 1563, that introduced an obligation of recording Roman Catholic marriages and baptisms performed in the parishes, i.e. of a registry of sacraments. The rules of conducting metrical records were most  widely determined by the norms of the Catholic Church.

Within the decree Tametsi dubitandum, the Synod decided that marriage registry entries must include names of spouses, witnesses to the marriage as well as the day, month, year and the site of the wedding.  In books of baptisms it was necessary to give the name and surname of the child, the date of baptism, names of parents, names and surnames of god-parents) and, in both cases, the name of the person performing the baptism.

In decisions of the Synod there was no mention of the need to keep books recording deaths.  The requirement to keep a registry of deaths was introduced by the so-called Roman Ritual, issued in 1614 by Pope Paul V.  He also placed on parish priests the duty to keep five series of metrical books: those of the baptised, confirmed, married, deceased and a so-called status animarum, i e. list of parishioners (list of souls).  In 1565, the Archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Charles Boromeus, in a first provincial synod in that city, decided that parish priests “should annually prepare a copy of the past year metrical annals and send it to the local bishop, who should take care to properly preserve these copies in his archive.”

The oldest metrical books in Poland come from before the decisions of the Tridentine Synod.  These are a result of decisions of the Krakovian bishop, Thomas Strzepinski, about keeping records of newlyweds, metrica copulatorum of the Marian Church in Kraków in the years 1548-1585, and  the parochial books of  Bochnia from 1559.  The obligation to maintain parochial lists of baptized and newlywed was introduced by post-Tridentine synods held in years 1579-1602.  The deciding influence was exercised by the provincial synod in Piotrków in the year 1607, presided over by the Primate, Cardinal Bernard Maciejowski.  He ordered keeping in the parishes of books of baptized, confirmed, wedded, communicants for Easter, and of parochial statistics, simultaneously providing a detailed form for metrical entries.  Keeping of death records by the Polish clergy was only required after the Piotrków Ritual of 1631.  The Luck Synod of 1641 ordered that the parish priests personally enter the data into the books, and the Synod of 1733 decided that for greater accuracy, all pages of the metrical books have to be numbered.

The state of the metrical books was inspected by the bishop as part of the process of visiting the parish.  Gradually, there arose a necessity to safeguard the parochial records, either by deposition in the bishop’s chancellery or by preparation of annual copies for the civil authorities.  The metrical entries gradually achieved the status of a legal document.  The process of  change of the religious metrics into civil registration documents with a general legal administrative value was an all-European phenomenon and occurred regardless of original denominational origin.

During the French Revolution, church offices were secularized and on the strength of the decree of the National Assembly of 20 Sept 1792, civil registration offices came into being.  A decree also introduced the civil Code Napoleon of 1804, which determined the lay character of marriages, introduced civil marriage, allowed for divorces and placed all marital cases under the jurisdiction of the Common Court.

After the partitions of Polish lands [1772-1795], the rules of keeping metrical books differed in each region.

Austrian area

In the Austrian region, parish priests of the Roman Catholic Church were named as civil registration clerks by the Imperial Patent of 15 March 1782.  Thus, each priest, who kept civil registry, was subject to the jurisdiction of both the church and the state authorities. The Imperial Patent of 20 Feb 1784 conferred the status of legal documents on the metrical religious records. Thanks to that Patent, lists of civil registration acts (births, weddings, deaths) were combined with parallel lists of religious rites (baptisms, marriages, funerals). The data were entered in Latin, separately for each village that was a part of a parish. This was a departure from previous old Polish records, in which the entries of an entire parish were kept in one tome.

The decree of the Court Chamber of 13 Jan 1787 determined that metrical acts are from that date to be considered as public documents and can serve as legal evidence of existence of entered notations, including facts of births, marriages and deaths.

With a decree by the Governor of 6 July 1803, new rules were introduced in the areas occupied by Austria as a result of the Third Partition.  The next change occurred in 1907 with an edict of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.  This edict added an additional rubric to the books, “comments”.

The metrical books of the Greek-Catholic (Uniate) faith which was a part of the Roman Catholic Church, were also conducted according to the rules that were obligatory in the Catholic Church.  These were also written, in spite of protests by the Uniate clergy, in Latin.  This rule was confirmed by a decree of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of 16 Sept 1875.

The Protestant Church in Austria received rights only as a result of the Tolerance Patent of Emperor Joseph II of 3 Oct 1781.  Up to the time of legal recognition of the Protestant Church in Galicia, registration of its faithful and keeping of its metrical books belonged to the Catholic clergy.  Beginning in 1784 Protestants could conduct their own metrical books.  In 1787 a regulation was issued, that in cases of marriage between people of different faiths, the data were to be entered in books of both faiths.  Beginning 30 Jan 1846, Protestant priests had an official right to keep metrical books of both rites, the Augsburg Rite (Lutheran) and the Swiss Rite.  Up to that time, Catholic clergy were exercising supervision.  The forms of  records did not differ from those of the Catholics, but they were usually kept in German.  Copies of books were sent to the Superintendent of Archives or to the General Consistory.

The Imperial Patent of 15 March 1782 delegated to Catholic parochial priests the right of civil registration clerks also in relation to non-Christian faiths, among others, Jews.  Israelite metrical books kept by the Jewish community were to have an exclusively private character.  The Imperial Patent of 7 May 1789 introduced a new order to Jewish communities in Galicia.  The conduct of Jewish metrical records were entrusted to the Rabbi.  The Catholic priests were to exercise a periodic control and were to confirm the  reliability of the entries.  Only the decree of 10 July 1868 conferred on Jewish metrical records the force of legal documents.  The above-mentioned decree of the Interior Ministry of 1875 transferred the conduct of metrical books to separate clerks, approved by the civil authorities, so-called metricants.  Control was exerted by the appropriate administrative authorities, i.e. the district governors (Starostas).  After having finished all entries for a given calendar year, the metricants also had the duty of providing one of two copies of the records to the Starosta’s office.

In 1891, a complete rearrangement of Jewish religious communities was finalized.   Entries in metrical books were performed mostly in German and Polish.  The headings of columns were often also in Hebrew or Yiddish.

The metrical records of churches of different faiths gradually gained legal rights.  In sequence: the Greek-Oriental Church – 29 Nov 1864, the Old-Catholic Church – 18 Oct 1877, the Evangelic-Brethren Church – 30 Oct 1880, the Hanefic Church, which was one of the branches of Islam – 15 Aug 1912, and metrical records of atheistic persons – 9 Apr 1870.

Prussian area

In the German areas, the keeping of metrical books first began in the 16th century.  Until the end of the 18th century, these books had an exclusively religious character.  They served to keep track of performance of religious obligations by members of a parish, making sure that these members performed church rituals and also as proofs of legal nature.  On 1 June 1794, from the time of validity of the General Legal State Rights for Prussian Lands (Allgemeines Landrecht für die preussischen Stataten), metrical books ceased to have their exclusively religious character and became public legal documents.  Regulations obligated Catholic and Evangelical priests to maintain exact registries of births, marriages and deaths, as well as to create their exact copies.  These copies were to be sent for storage to the courts and institutions of jurisdiction over the locations of a given parish.  Supervision over these obligations remained, until 1815, in the hands of royal regencies and later in Section I and later in the Division of Internal Affairs of the Regency offices.  Catholic metrical books were also subject to the supervision by the diocesan bishop.

State law obligated each citizen to register births, marriages and deaths with the parish to which their living place belonged.  Marriage records were to be entered in the metrical book of the parish of the woman entering into a marital union.

The obligation to register births, marriages and deaths of Jews in the years 1794-1812 was with their respective municipal town hall.  These registries were kept primarily for purposes of legal documentation.  On 11 March 1812, there appeared a decree dealing with the issue of citizenship of Jews (Edikt betreffend die bürgerlichen Verhältnisse der Juden) which divided them into two groups: naturalized and non-naturalized.  To the first group belonged those who had a prescribed wealth, had a stable occupation and proper address and who also decided to accept a surname.  Thus, they were entered in a list of state ཁcitizensཁ. From 1812 these Jews were subject to civil registration of births, marriages, divorces and deaths with the municipal police authorities or before a landrat (in the case of residents of villages).  This civil registration was limited only to Jews who were naturalized.  On 30 March 1847, a regulation was issued dealing with civil court confirmations of births, marriages and deaths of Jews and dissidents (Verordnung btr. Die geburten, Heiraten und Sterbefall, deren bürgerliche Beglaubigung durch die Ortsgerichte erfolgen muß).  Next, according to the Prussian Law of 23 July 1847 about civil registry of Jews (Gesetz über die Verhältnisse der Juden), these functions were taken over by local courts (from 1849).

This dual form of registry (civil – in case of Jews and dissidents, and religious – in case of all other citizens of the Prussian State) lasted until the second half of the 19th century.  A uniform civil registration was introduced in Prussia in 1874 with the law “Gesetz über die Beurkundung des Personenstandes und die Form die Eheschliessung”.  The keeping of the civil registration was entrusted to special civil registration clerks appointed by administrative authorities.  The entire Prussian State was divided into civil registration districts, formed from one or several communities, depending on the density of population (at least 1500 inhabitants).  In urban communities several districts were formed.  Mayors or village elders served as civil registration clerks. Supervision over the clerks was exercised by regional presidents or by regional governors (law of 1 Sept 1883).

On 6 Feb 1875, a law was promulgated about lay registry of civil state in the entire Reich (Reich Gesetz über die Beurkung des Personenstandes und die Form die Eheschliessung).  It was valid from 1 Jan 1876.  This law completely separated civil registration of the population from church affairs.  It introduced an obligation to record births, marriages and deaths of all citizens, regardless of faith, in three kinds of books.  Introduced also were civil weddings as having priority over church weddings.  Metrical books were usually kept in Latin or in German, civil registration books in German.

After World War I, on lands which remained after 1920 as parts of the German Reich these laws were modified somewhat by law of 1937.  Significantly different were the acts pertaining to the marital unions; this were kept primarily in a somewhat different registry, in the so-called family book (Familienbuch).

Duchy of Warsaw  (Księstwo Warszawskie)  [1807-1813]

Article 69 of the 1807 Constitution introduced the Napoleonic Code in the Duchy of Warsaw, and with it, offices and records of the civil registration.  A decree of Frederic August, King of Saxony and Duke of Warsaw, on 27 Jan 1808 (to be valid from 1 May 1808), created civil registration records.  On 18 Mar 1809, changes were introduced in nine articles of the decree.  In principle, books were to be kept by civil clerks, but in view of the shortage of appropriately trained persons, this task was conferred on priests.  The subsequent decree of the Saxon King of 23 Feb 1809 required also that the priests first keep the civil records and then perform their religious rites.  In order to avoid conflicts that could occur between the duties of a chaplain and the duties of a clerk, presidents and mayors were given the right to perform civil weddings and divorces.  [Editor’s note: The Kielce-Radom region became part of the Duchy of Warsaw in 1809, and these Napoleon civil registration rules began to apply there in September 1810].

Kingdom of Poland  (Królestwo Polskie)  [1815-1918]

A decision of the Prince Plenipotentiary of 3 Oct 1825 assigned the keeping of civil registration records for non-Christian faiths (Jews and Moslems) to mayors or their substituting clerks.  For Jews, there was an additional decision of the Administrative Council that rabbis, after having performed their religious rites,  should enter the appropriate information into a civil registry.  Supervision of these acts remained in the hands of civil clerks.  The entries had to be made in the Polish language.

The above mentioned situation lasted until 13 June 1825, i.e. to the time of publication of the first book of civil code for the Kingdom of Poland (Dziennik Praw [Law Journal] KP, T. 10).  At that point, the civil registration records were combined with church metrical records (art. 71-142). Priests were supposed to perform their religious obligations first and then write up the civil record. A parish priest simultaneously performed the function of a civil clerk.  On 24 June 1836 appeared a law about marriage (Law Journal KP, T.18), according to which civil repercussions were assigned to civil courts, all others to religious courts.

In the Russian Empire in 1839 and in the Kingdom of Poland in 1875, the Greek-Catholic (Uniate) Church was abolished.   From that time forward, parishes located in these areas were converted to the Russian Orthodox (Prawosławne).

Priests as well as rabbis were obligated to keep books divided into three parts: births, marriages and deaths.  One copy of the book, considered as a duplicate (duplikat), was supposed to be closed at the end of each year and stored in the archive of the appropriate peace court.  Another copy, considered as the original (unikat), was to be kept on site.  This original was composed of three books (births, marriages, and deaths), entries were to be made until the book was filled.  Both the original and the duplicate had numbered pages.

Births were supposed to be recorded within eight days from the baby’s entry into the world.  This obligation was not frequently observed by Jews.  Wedding records were written up after the ceremony in the presence of two witnesses.  In cases of non-Christian weddings, a rabbi or an imam, after the performing the ceremony, went along with the newlywed and witnesses  to the civil registration clerk to register the marriage act.  Divorces and separations belonged to the jurisdiction of royal procurators.

Supervision over the books of civil registration kept by the parish priest was in the hands of the dean of the church province, and simultaneously in the hands of court authorities.

Entries in the books of civil registration were at first kept in the Polish language, and from Jan 1st 1868 in the Russian language, as per regulation of the Organizing Committee of the Kingdom of Poland.  However, the legal rules pertaining to the form of the records remained unchanged.

Inter-war period

The different rules existing in the areas of the three formerly occupied areas persisted in Poland  during the twenty-year period between the [two world] wars.  The rules were supplemented by decrees of the state authorities, opinions of the General Procurator’s office and by decisions of the Supreme Court.  The Roman-Catholic Church relied on the Code of Canon law of 1917.  The canon Nr. 470 required that at the end of each calendar year the parish priest send a certified copy of parish books to the bishop’s curia, except for Status animarum.  This was done to preserve in the bishop’s archive a record of baptisms, weddings and deaths, so as to be able, in cases of need, to provide the priests or the faithful with copies of original metrical records.

Post-war period

A decree of  25 Sept 1945 introduced (from 1 Jan 1946) a national, common, lay, non-religious civil state registry, uniform for the entire country.  This legal decree created new arms of the national administration – offices of civil registration.  Administrative offices which stored copies of civil registration books and metrical books were obliged to pass them by 15 Jan 1946 to civil registration offices (Urząd Stanu Cywilnego).  These, in turn, as per further regulations, were to transfer to the State Archives metrical books older than 100 years.  On 8 June 1955 (Official Journal Nr 23 line 151, with later changes) a new law was published dealing with civil registration records (sequential amendments: 1956, 1958, 1962,1964,1971, 1975).  On 15 Sept 1955 appeared a regulation from the Minister of the Interior Nr. 193/55 about inventory and preservation site as well as about protection and control of civil record books (amended 27 Feb 1976 and 14 Feb 1989).

The law of 29 Sept 1986 (Law J. Nr 36, line 180, amended Law J. 1988 Nr 19, line 132) – Law Dealing with Civil Records – composed of  91 articles, dealing with all forms of registry of civil registration entries. The Law became valid 1 March 1987.  Detailed problems were decided by regulations of the Minister of the Interior of 14 Feb 1987 dealing with preparation of civil registration records, their keeping and control of civil registration books, their storage and security (Law j. Nr 7 line 43) and from 15 Nov 1998, by regulation of the Minister of Interior and Administration of 26 Oct 1998 dealing with detailed rules of preparation of civil registration records, the means of keeping the civil registration books and their control and security as well as examples of civil registration records, their copying, issuance of certificates and extracts (Law J. Nr 136, line 884).

From their beginning, metrical records and civil registration records elicited and continue to elicit great interest.  These registries are maintained equally in the interest of the state as well as in order to safeguard personal interests of citizens.  Civil registration records serve as means of proving civil status of a given person, and they are also the basis for determination of property rights.  Metrical books and civil registration books contain a lot of basic personal information, for example, about social status, age, address, profession, parents of baptized children, newlyweds and witnesses, causes of deaths of the departed (also an important source of data about general health of society).

Some books contain later additional notes about weddings and deaths; in some are found unexpected news items about parish history, inventories as well as items about social customs.  All these items and data permit conduct of demographic, sociological and genealogical research.  The latter shows a continuous tendency to grow, leading to written requests directed to the Archives and an increasing number of users of archival working centers, searching for answers to queries about their families and relatives.  Utilization of these materials is complicated by their dispersal in multiple locations.  Records from the former eastern lands of the [inter-war Polish] Republic which now form a part of Ukraine, the so-called lands beyond the river Bug (the “Zabużański Collection”), found their way first to the Acts of Civil Registration at the Ministry of Public Administration.  After dissolution of that Ministry in 1950, they were assigned to the national Civil Registration Office of Warsaw-Midtown (Urząd Stanu Cywilnego Warszawie-Śródmiescie), and then in part, to the Central  Archives of Old Records (Archiwum Główne Akt Dawnych).

A large number of metrical books, mainly Roman-Catholic ones, are found also in diocesan and parish archives.  Civil registration books are stored in archives and civil registration offices.  A number of metrical and civil records, dealing with Polish lands and Polish populations, are preserved beyond Polish borders, in archives in Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania and Germany.  These, however, were not considered in preparation of this Informator (Guidebook).

Preserved metrical and civil acts are proof of residence on Polish lands of many nationalities.  The largest were Poles, Jews, Germans, Ukrainians, Lithuanians.  These differed among themselves not only by language and origin, but also by religion or faith.  Because of forced removals, life necessities and many other reasons, some left Poland and settled in many countries.  Poles and persons born on Polish territories are dispersed all over the world.  Searching for their roots, they turn for help to Polish diplomatic representatives and to the State Archives.

In order to facilitate their searches, it was decided to prepare an Informator (Guidebook), containing a listing of all metrical and civil acts owned by the Polish State Archives.  Preparation for this project, suggested by Hanna Krajewska, began in 1996.  Completion was planned for two years.  In 1997, workers in all state archives in which metrical and civil records are kept (a total of 70 archival locations) conducted a search of parishes, religious community offices, civil registration offices, courts, municipal offices and private property collections.  All participants in the searches, whom we thank for performing a yeoman’s work, often a difficult and laborious task, are listed on the editor’s page with data on places in which they conducted their searches.  As a result, thorough detailed information was obtained on the wealth of metrical collections and their variety.  Information was entered into a computer base called PRADZIAD (Grandfather).  The search conducted in 1997 included records which were in the Archives’ possession as of 31 Dec 1996, but in some archives also included acquisitions in 1997 up to the time of the search.  In the computer database were included the following data: name of locality in which or for which  the metrical and civil records were prepared (parishes, branches, individual villages within a parish in Galicia, sites of civil offices), the administrative and church supervision, religion, parish saint dedication (primarily when a community had several parishes of the same faith), type of civil data (religious confessions, claims, communions, confirmations, conversions, weddings, divorces, births, banns, deaths), dates of  the preserved records (usually annual but without detailed information about lacunae), dates of annuals which had useful microfilm copies, data on accessibility of the records, number and name of the archive keeping the documentation, name and number of the collection as well as the name of parts of it, and other comments about the storage of the records.  The search covered only original records kept in archives.  It did not include microfilms of foreign origin kept in some archives which cannot serve as bases for issuance of certificates or certified copies.

To identity localities and their topographic location as defined by their positions within administrative regions, the Informator uses the following rules:

        –         with respect to localities currently within Poland, providing communities and provinces (województwa) according to territorial divisions in use in Poland in years 1975-1998;

        –         with respect to localities that do not exist any longer or that are currently outside of the borders of Poland, providing their administrative assignment during the period in which the records were made. In case of areas that belonged to Poland prior to 1939 and are now in Ukraine and Lithuania providing districts and provinces (powiaty i województwa).  In case of areas which were a part of the German Reich and are now in Germany or Russia, providing districts and regencies (powiaty i rejencje).  In case of areas that were part of the Russian Empire, districts and gubernias (powiaty i gubernie).

The following publications served as the main basis for determining the official forms of current, former and foreign names of localities and their administrative regions:

        –         Die Wohnplätze des deutschen Reiches, 1 Abteilung, Das Königreich Preußen, Berlin 1885;

        –                     Skorowidz polsko-niemiecki i niemiecko-polski miejscowości Województwa Pomorskiego i W. M. Gdańska, Poznan 1920;

        –                     Gemeinde Lexikon für den Freistaat Preußen, Band 1, Provinz Ostpreußen, Berlin 1931;

        –                     Skorowidz miejscowości Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej z oznaczeniem terytorialnie im właściwych władz i urządzeń komunikacyjnych, edited by T. Bystrzycki, Przemyśl-Warszawa, 1933;

        –                     Gemeinde und Wohnplatz-Lexikon des Reichsgaus Danzig-Westpreußen, Statistischen Landesamt Danzig-Westpreußen, Band 1, Danzig 1944;

        –                     S. Rospond.  Słownik nazw geograficznych Polski zachodniej i północnej, cz. 1-2, Wrocław-Warszawa 1951;

        –                     Wykaz urzędowych nazw miejscowości w Polsce, Warszawa 1980-1982 (wraz z dalszymi zmianami).

The oldest metrical record in the State Archives dates from the 16th century.  This is a book of deaths of 1537 of the Evangelical-Augsburg Rite, from the parish of Our Lady in Gdańsk.  The majority of the metrical and civil records date, however, to the 19th century.  The newest are from 1945.

Preserved have been records of the following faiths (in alphabetical order in Polish): Adventist (adwentyści), Baptist (baptyści), Christ-Catholic (chrystusowy katolicy), Christian-Catholic (chrześcijańsko-katolickie), Dissident (dysydenci), Protestant (ewangelickie), Lutheran (ewangelicko-augsburskie), United Lutheran (ewangelicko-unijne), Calvinist (ewangelicko-reformowane), Philiton (filipońskie), Greek-Catholic (greckokatolickie), Huguenot (hugenoci), Old-Believers (jednowiercy), Catholic-Apostolic (katolicko-apostolskie), Muslim (mahometańskie), Moravian (mariawickie), Mennonite (mennonickie), Jewish (mojżeszowe), Russian Orthodox (prawosławne), Roman-Catholic (rzymskokatolickie), and Old-Lutheran (staroluterańskie).  Sometimes, in the metrical books kept mainly in archives of Malbork, Tczew and Gdańsk, appears the term “dissidents”.  It was used in the guide as a denomination, in the knowledge, however, that the term dissident was used in the eighteenth century to describe non-Catholics, mainly Protestants, as determined by the Warsaw Treaty of 1768.  Apart from the denominations listed above there also appears a term mieszane (“mixed”).  This refers to a negligible number of records, in which appear several faiths.  In cases in which it was impossible to determine which faith is listed in the book, the term nie określone (“not determined”) appears.

As a historic consequence of the takeover of Catholic churches by Protestants during the Reformation, there is often found, besides a church of the Evangelical-Augsburg (Lutheran) Rite, a Catholic church dedicated to a specific saint.  In the records, this parish dedication was treated as an element of identification.  It was used generally in those localities in which there are several parishes of the same faith.  In the case of existence of several civil registration offices in the same locality, the area covered by the given office is provided.

The word parafia (“parish”) appears in cases of the Roman-Catholic, Greek-Catholic, Russian-Orthodox and Protestant faiths (in the latter the German word ཁGemeindeཁ was also translated as parish, although it is used in historic literature also as the term for a religious community).

A majority of records is derived from civil registration offices.  Also qualified here as civil registration records is the documentation created in the years 1808-1825 in the Duchy of Warsaw, Kingdom of Poland and in territories incorporated into the Russian Empire.  Information about those were placed following the religious records, listed as stanu cywilnego (“civil registration”).

For the purpose of this Informator we concentrated on main records attesting to the civil registration, thus on data on births, marriages and deaths.  Only in the case of the archive in Wrocław  were  baptisms also considered (qualified as births with an appropriate comment) and funerals (qualified as deaths with an appropriate comment).  This pertains mainly to records from the 18th century.  In publishing, however, the following were omitted: information on other series of records stored in the Archives, data on alphabetical listings and indexes, and information on the dates of microfilms owned.

The arrangement of the data

Entries in this Informator are arranged in Polish alphabetical order according to the names of localities for which the metrical or civil registration records were kept. In the same alphabetical order are placed current as well as old Polish and foreign names of places used during the time of creation of the documents. Description of the archival possessions are provided under the current Polish name; other names of the same locality are given under the current Polish name. Places with the same names are arranged according to the alphabetical order of their provinces (województwa), and then communities. Referrals to other places are located under the full entries for localities carrying the same name. In cases of places with the same names, their administrative region (gmina and województwo) are given. In sorting, Polish letters with diacritical marks were arranged in accordance with the standard Polish alphabet. Letters with other diacritical marks are treated like letters without such marks. In case of parishes from the areas beyond the river Bug, where metrical records were often kept separately for each community within a parish, the entry is first given in order of years for the entire parish and then for the specific location of the parish.

In each entry are given:

     1.     The current name of the locality (in which the registry of civil registration data was compiled); comments in parentheses, if any; community or district (powiat) (if site of the community or district is the same as the name of the locality, then this item is omitted); province (województwo), regency or gubernia (if the name of województwo, regency or gubernia is the same as the name of the locality, then this item is omitted).

     2.     Religion, dedication or description of the territory of the civil registration office; referral to other localities in the same parish, which are described separately; site of the parish (if registry of data of the civil registration occurred in a branch or was kept separately for individual localities); comments in parentheses, if any.  The religious denominations are listed in alphabetical order, and at the end, civil registration records (stanu cywilnego). 

     3.     Types of the civil registration data (births, marriages, deaths); dates of preserved records; comments in parentheses, if any.  Chronological series are presented according to the  sequential number of the given archive, and within each archive according to the sequential  number of the collection.

     4.     The number of the archive in which the documents are stored, the number of the collection and the number of the available part of the collection.  A listing of the archives with their numbers is found on pages xiv-xvii of the introduction to the Informator.  If the records are not accessible or only partly accessible, an appropriate symbol (* or **) appears after the number of the collection.  For example, in the first entry below, in archive Nr 56, collection Nr 879, the records are not accessible. 

Here are two sample entries:

Cross-references have the following structure:
Name of community (old Polish or foreign) ➝ actual name of locality, for example:


  • ➝ Warnice, gm. Dębno, woj. gorzowskie
  • ➝ Warnice, woj. szczecińskie

Special cross-references, created in cases where the records of the entire parish did not survive, indicate localities of the given parish, for which separate metrical records were kept, for example:

  1. Bienice, gm. Dobra, woj. szczecińskie
  2. ewangelicko-augsburskie (p. również Bieniczki, Glidnica, Gostomin, Mąkorzyno,
    Osowo, Radzim, Sienno Dolne i Górne, Slajsino, Troszczyno

The Informator, which you are receiving, is a registry of the actual state of the collections of the State Archives. It is important to remember, however, that civil registration records will continue to arrive at the State Archives. With time, a repeated effort will have to be undertaken to publish information about the new collections. In the planning stage is a CD-ROM to contain the entire database, thus not only information about the basic acts of the civil registration, i.e. births, marriages and deaths, but also about the other series of documents which are stored in the State Archives.

We sincerely thank the Foundation for Polish-German Cooperation, which financed, in part, the costs of conducting the search of the archives and preparation of publication in book form. We also thank Dr. Andrzej Biernat for participating in preparation of the project and of the final shape of the publication. Particular gratitude is due to the reviewers, Prof. Dr. Stefan K. Kuczynski and Prof. Dr. Marian Wojciechowski for comments about the Informator and suggestions for changes, most of which were accepted. Some suggestions, however, although meriting attention, can only be considered in the future. Above all, this refers to the question of administrative territorial assignments of localities in view of the administrative reforms of 1999. Perhaps it will be necessary to keep the data in the future based on generally available registers or on supplemental materials.

List of Abbreviations and Markings:

p. również — patrz również = see also branches or separate localities of the given parish
p. też — patrz też = see also old localities, now parts of larger towns
gm. — gmina = community or village
gub. — gubernia (old Russian term for province)
par. — parafia = parish (a religious administrative unit, usually related to a specific church)
pow. — powiat = district (a small state administrative area, governed by a starosta)
rej. — rejencja = a large administrative entity, mostly in Prussia
woj. — województwo = province, a large administrative area
U — akta urodzeń = births
M — akta małżeństw = marriages
Z — akta zgonów = deaths

*— records partially available
** — records not accessible
➝ — cross-reference to the proper name of the locality