First results now in from historic Jewish record indexing agreement signed with Polish State Archives

Los Angeles, California, July 14, 1998: — A historic agreement between Jewish Records Indexing-Poland (JRI-Poland) and the Polish State Archives to index Polish Jewish records was announced at the Summer Seminar on Jewish Genealogy held in Los Angeles in July. The first results are in from the historic agreement signed with the Polish State Archives in July 1997, JRI-Poland told Seminar participants.

During his address to a full seminar room, JRI-Poland Coordinator Stanley Diamond of Montreal, formally announced the new initiative, called the Polish State Archive Project.

The Project is the result of a 1997 agreement between JRI-Poland and the Polish State Archive to create a computerized Internet-searchable database of previously unavailable 19th century Jewish birth, marriage, and death (known as “vital”) records of Poland. The new initiative builds on JRI-Poland’s original and ongoing initiative to index those Jewish vital records of Poland previously microfilmed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“LDS”).

The LDS microfilm coverage of Jewish records from Poland generally ends between 1860 and 1870 and contains about two million records. The new agreement covers about five million additional records for the latter part of the 19th century. And, in some cases, this indexing includes records in registers from earlier years which were not included in the LDS microfilming.

The JRI-Poland database enables all those with Jewish ancestry to make an initial search through indexes for their family’s records using the Internet. Once entries are located, the researcher can obtain copies of the actual records. For the records not filmed by the LDS, researchers can now order them directly from the Polish State Archives. Such records have never before been made accessible to the public. A form for ordering records listed in these new indices may be downloaded from the JRI-Poland website, whose URL is listed below.

The JRI-Poland – Polish State Archive Project will open up exciting opportunities for researching previously inaccessible records for the last part of the 19th century. The first eight towns for which Internet-searchable ca 1865 – 1897 indices were made available are Brok, Chorzele, Nasielsk, Nur, Przasnysz, Pultusk, Ostrow Maz., and Wyszkow. The indexing is scheduled on an archive-by-archive basis, and the late 19th century records for ten more towns in the area around Mlawa will be available in the early fall.

Diamond’s catalytic personal search for carriers of his family’s Beta-Thalassemia genetic trait led to the announcement today. Diamond’s successful use of the Ostrow Mazowiecka database created for his scientific research led to the request to index other towns in the same way, providing a resource for all researchers, not just those doing scientific work.

JRI-Poland has been recognized by investigators in the international medical and scientific community because of the potential benefit of the database for Ashkenazic families trying to trace their medical histories, particularly those at increased risk for hereditary conditions and diseases. Recognition has come from: The Cancer Research Center of Albert Einstein College of Medicine – Yeshiva University, Hebrew University – Hadassah Medical School, Epidemiology-Genetics Program – Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, McGill University – Montreal Children’s Hospital Research Institute, McGill University – Division of Medical Genetics, Mount Sinai Hospital – Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and Yale University Cancer Genetics Program.

Unlike the indexing of the records in the LDS microfilms, which is utilizes volunteers formed into Shtetl CO-OPs for individual towns, this new project requires fund-raising to cover the costs of photocopying and transliteration work, which is all carried out by JRI-Poland’s team of professionals in Poland.

Jewish Records Indexing – Poland is a non-profit organization directed by a board of volunteers with members in the U.S., Canada and Great Britain