Poland Civil Registration

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Definition[edit | edit source]

  • Civil registration is the vital records (records of births, marriages, and deaths) made by the government. Civil registration records (zapisy cywilne) are an excellent source for information on names, dates, and places of births, marriages, and deaths. These records are kept at the civil registration office, called urząd stanu cywilnego, abbreviated as USC.
  • Legally, civil records were to be kept by state officials. Because there were not enough state officials, the clergy were frequently appointed as civil registrars. The clergy were required to make civil copies of birth, marriage, and death records. These are known as "civil transcripts of church records" (see Poland Church Records).
  • Because the church was involved in early civil registration, it is difficult to clearly distinguish between civil registration and church records.

In 1795, the old Kingdom of Poland was conquered and divided among Russia, Austria, and Prussia. Civil registration coverage varied for each part of Poland controlled by Russia, Prussia, or Austria.

West Prussia (Westpreussen)Pomerania (Pommern)East Prussia (Oustpreussen)BrandenburgPosenGalicia (Austrian PolandSilesia (Schlesien)Russian PolandPoland 1815-1918.png

Because the time coverage, record content, and methods for accessing records are different for each part of the country three separate articles cover this topic. Select the article for the region where your ancestors lived.

Modern civil registration records are still kept at the gmina (community) level. Records older than 100 years are supposed to be transferred from the USC office to the state archives. Poland's privacy laws restrict access to births up to 100 years, and marriages and deaths up to 80 years.