Lesser Poland Voivodeship, Poland Genealogy

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Lesser Poland Voivodeship

Civil Registration and Church Records

Almost all of the research you do will be in civil registration (government birth, marriage, and death records) and church records (baptism, confirmation, marriage, and burial records). To understand these records better study the articles: Poland Church Records and Poland Civil Registration.

1. You will need to determine the name of the town your Polish ancestors lived in. If you do not now know it, use the Wiki article Poland Locating Town of Origin.
2. Find the voivodeship (province) for that town. To see a map of the town, and find out its voivodeshp, use mapa.szukacz. Enter the town name in the "place" field in the right sidebar and click "Show". Province, area, commune, and postal code will appear at the bottom of the right sidebar.
3. If the town was in the area of Poland once controlled by Russia or Austria, look it up in Skorowidz Gazetteer Online to find the parishes of various religions. Here are the instructions. Use the second option, "Viewing anywhere via the Digital Library of Wielkopolska".
4. You will look for birth, marriage, and death records:
  • in online databases
  • in microfilmed records of the FamilySearch collections
  • by writing to request searches
  • from State archives where records have been deposited
  • from church archives where records have been deposited
  • from local civil registration offices
  • from local parish churches

Search Strategy

For most of this region, the part controlled by Austria, you will do research before 1918 in just church records. From 1918 to the present, civil registration is available. In a few small sections in the north, which were controlled by Russia, civil registration is available starting in 1808.

  • Search for the relative or ancestor you selected. When you find his birth record, search for the births of his brothers and sisters.
  • Next, search for the marriage of his parents. The marriage record will have information that will often help you find the birth records of the parents.
  • You can estimate the ages of the parents and determine a birth year to search for their birth records.
  • Search the death registers for all known family members.
  • Repeat this process for both the father and the mother, starting with their birth records, then their siblings' births, then their parents' marriages, and so on.
  • If earlier generations (parents, grandparents, etc.) do not appear in the records, search neighboring parishes.

Historical Geography

Lesser Poland Voivodeship or Lesser Poland Province is a voivodeship (province), in southern Poland. It was created on 1 January 1999 out of the former Kraków, Tarnów, Nowy Sącz and parts of Bielsko-Biała, Katowice, Kielce and Krosno Voivodeships. The division of Lesser Poland along the Vistula river, which lasted from 1772 until 1918, is visible even today. For more than 100 years, southern Lesser Poland (Kraków, Tarnów, Biala Krakowska, and Nowy Sącz) was administered by Austria, while northern, larger part of the province (Częstochowa, Sosnowiec, Kielce, Radom, Lublin, Sandomierz) was forcibly part of the Russian Empire. In the 18th century, territories that later became part of the modern Polish regions of Lesser Poland Voivodeship, Subcarpathian Voivodeship and Silesian Voivodeship were added to Galicia. Even though Lesser Poland's countryside was almost exclusively Polish, its towns and cities were inhabited by numerous Jews, whose communities were very vibrant. In Kraków, Jews made 25% of the population, in Lublin – 31%, in Kielce – 30%, and in Radom – 32%. Source: Wikipedia, Lesser Poland Voivodeship

  • Prior to 1918, this was part of Austria, so follow instructions for Austrian Poland throughout the Poland Wiki.
  • In 1967, the territory of Lesser Poland voivodeship was basically the same as Kraków voivodeship. Some areas are also cataloged with Austria, Galizien.
  • See also: Austrian Poland (Galicia), Austro-Hungarian Empire Genealogy.

Online Sources

Finding Aids

Poland finding aids have been created by a variety of state, church, society, and private organizations. Their goal is to inform what records exist and the repositories that hold them. Each finding aid has a different focus--a particular religion or geographical area or archive or collection. Be sure to search all that apply to your ancestors. Remember that churches often produced civil registration records. The church records might have been destroyed, but copies had been sent to the government and still exist. So we search for both church records and civil registration records.

Online Searchable Databases

Ancestry.com

Jewish Records

Some areas of Poland were predominantly Jewish settlements.

Because churches were frequently expected to act as civil registrars, Jewish births, marriages, and deaths can appear in Catholic records.

Online Browsable Images Databases

Microfilms: The FamilySearch Catalog

Many church records have been microfilmed and can be viewed at the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. Eventually, microfilmed records will all be digitized and available online. The records you need might have been digitized now. Check back from time to time to see if they have become available.
The FamilySearch Catalog is organized by the voivodeships as they existed in 1967. There are maps on the Poland Genealogy main page comparing those jurisdictions with the modern jurisdictions. In 1967, the territory of Lesser Poland voivodeship was basically the same as Kraków voivodeship. Some areas are also cataloged with Austria, Galizien. To search the catalog:

a. Click on the records of Poland, Kraków or records of Austria Galizien.
b. Click on Places within Poland, Kraków or Places within Austra, Galizien, and a list of towns will appear.
c. Click on your town.
d. Click on the "Civil registration" or "church records" topic, if available. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
e. Choose the correct record type and time period for your ancestor.
For records in German: "Geburten" are births. Heiraten are marriages. "Verstorbene" or Toten are deaths.
For records in Polish: Akta urodzeń are births. Akta chrzest are christenings/baptisms. Akta małżeństw are marriages. Akta zgonów are deaths.
f. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the microfilm listed for the record. FHL icons.png. The magnifying glass indicates that the microfilm is indexed. Clicking on the magnifying glass will take you to the index. Clicking on the camera will take you to an online digital copy of the microfilm.

Writing for Records

Poland Letter Writing Guide

This letter writing guide will enable you to write in the Polish language to parish churches and church and government archives: Poland Letter Writing Guide. Generally, the people you wrie to will appreciate your effort to use Polish and cooperate more readily.

Civil Registration Office Address

Write to the local civil registration office for records after 1900. Records prior to 1900 will probably be in the state archives. Records in the last 100 years will have some privacy restrictions where you will have to prove your relationship and/or the death of the person the certificate reports.

1. Use mapa.szukacz.
Enter the town name in the "place" field
in the right sidebar and click "Show".

Dynow1.png

2. Find the commune

at the bottom of the right sidebar.

Dynow2.png

3. Google: urzad stanu cywilnego
with the name of the commune.

Dynow3.png

4. From the list of hits,
find the official page of the
URC (urzad stanu cywilnego).
Click on the link.

Dynow4.png

5. Find the e-mail address.

Dynow6.png

6. Use the Poland Letter Writing Guide
to write an email
requesting the record.

State Archives Addresses

  • PRADZIAD This website can be searched by location (town or parish). It will then tell you which archives hold what records for the location. On the entry for the records you want, click on "More" at the far right, and it will give you the contact information for the archive.

Church: Parish Addresses


Church Diocese Archives Addresses

See the Catholic Diocese map on the Poland Church Records page. Use The Catholic Directory, Poland to find the diocese for your town. Click on "View Full Listing" for your parish.

Kraków Archdiocese

Archives of Kraków Archdiocese
ul. Franciszkańska 3,
31-004 Kraków
Poland

tel. +48 12 628 81 32, +48 12 628 81 33
e-mail: archiwum@diecezja.pl

Kielce Diocese Archives

Diocesan Archives in Kielce (ADK)
ul. Jana Pawła II 3
25-013 Kielce
Poland

tel. 41-341-59-71; 41-344-54-25 in. 219
email: adk@archiwum.diecezja.kielce.pl

Tarnów Diocesan Archives

ul. Katedralna 3,
33-100 Tarnów
Poland

tel. 14-622-34-23
arch-diec@diecezja.tarnow.pl

Archives of the Diocese of Sosnowiec

Archives of the Diocese of Sosnowiec
ul. bpa Śmigielskiego 2
42-500 Będzin
Poland

e-mail: archiwum@diecezja.sosnowiec.pl
tel. 504 070 325

Inventory of Lutheran Parish Records

This website lists for each parish the years parish records exist, the archives where they are held, and links to online records and microfilms.

Reading the Records

Word Lists

The language of the records depends on the controlling government. A small oart of Lesser Poland was part of Austria until 1918, and church records are in Latin after 1784, but might be in German before then. Records in parts of Poland controlled by Russia can be in either Russian or Polish.

Word-by-Word Reading Aids

How-to Guides

For areas of Poland that were once part of Russia:

Russian and Polish Transliteration Tools

Lessons