Poland Holdings of the Polish State Archives
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Recently, the National Archives of Poland posted this notification:
Ladies and Gentlemen, we would like to inform you that on June 29, 2018, the database and search engines:
SEZAM (Archive Record System SEZAM),
ELA (Population Records in ELA archives)
will be closed and will no longer be available on the websites of the Supreme Directorate of State Archives. The only source of information about the resource of a given archive is the Search in Archives service ( www.szukajwarchiwach.pl ). At www.archiwa.gov.pl, the current version of the PRADZIAD database will remain available. Source: 
Polish State Archives
In many cases, one can know what exists in Polish archives without ever going there. For databases created by the Polish State Archives permit one to look up this information online. This article will explain the four databases which contain descriptions of the records founds in the archives. None of these databases link to images of the records so one must still visit, employ an agent, or correspond to obtain a copy of an original record. There is one major exception. Some of this material found in PRADZIAD was microfilmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah between 1968-1998 and can be searched for in the FamilySearch Catalog.
PRADZIAD – Baza danych Program Rejestracji Akt Metrykalnych i Stanu Cywilnego / The Program for the Registration of Records from Parish and Civil Registration Offices
- A database that comprises information on parish and civil registration registers preserved in all branches of the Polish State Archives and some Roman Catholic diocesan and archdiocesan archives.
- It does NOT contain any lists of names or information on specific places.
Click here to access the database.
How are the records arranged on PRADZIAD?
- Name of the town – includes both the current and former name of the village in Polish, in addition to the former name of the village in any foreign language.
- Administrative jurisdictions –
1. Towns now located within territory of Poland – communes and provinces according to years 1975-1998
2. Towns which no longer exist, or which now are located on the territory of another State – administrative location from the time the records were generated
3. Towns which belonged to Poland pre-1939, and are now located in Ukraine or Lithuania – counties and provinces
4. Towns which belonged to Germany pre-1945, and are now located in Poland – counties and districts
- Religion – there are numerous religious denominations in the holdings of the State Archives.
- Event Type – there are numerous event types which are available, including: baptisms, confirmations, births, marriages, deaths, divorces, banns, etc.
How does one search PRADZIAD? Several options are listed here.
- Name of a town – Enter the name of the town where the parish, the civil registration office or the religious community were located.
- Commune – Enter the name of the commune on the territory of which the town searched for is located, or the county on the territory of which it was located before the war.
- Province – Select the name of the province within the 1975-1998 or 1918-1939 borders.
- Creed/Religion – Select the creed or religion in respect of which the register was kept.
- Types of records – Select the type of event.
ELA – Ewidencje Ludności w Archiwaliach / The Registers of Population in Archival Materials
- A database that comprises information on all population registers (lists, rolls, indexes, etc.) found in archival materials of all branches of the Polish State Archives.
- It does NOT contain information on parish registers and civil registration nor any lists of names or information on specific people or places.
Click here to access the database.
How are the records arranged on ELA?
- Description of geography – describes area to which the register refers, including name of town, administrative units, etc.
- Description of archival materials – type of register, dates, etc.
How does one search ELA? Several options are listed here.
- Name of Town
- Type of List
- Residence books – depending on the locality and timeframe, were known by variant names including:
1. Domowa Książka Meldunkowa – Home Registration Books
2. Księgi Ludnosci Stałej – Books of Permanent Residents
3. Księgi/Spis Ludności – Books of Residents
4. Rejestr Mieszkańców – Register of Residents
5. Lista Składek – Fee Books
For more information on how to search the ELA database see Navigating the ELA Database on the Polish State Archives' Website by Fay Bussgang in the winter 2010 issue of the AVOTAYNU (FHL 296.05 Av79 v.26 no.4).
SEZAM – System Ewidencji Zasobu Archiwalnego / Archival Holdings Registration System
A database that contains information on the national archival holdings preserved by the State Archives and a handful of other key record repositories in Poland. It contains details on the holdings at the fond level – e.g. the fond name, the author, dates of documents, number of units or size of collection. If the archival fond has a digital inventory, it is attached to the description of the fond.
Click here to access the database.
How does one search SEZAM? Several options are listed here.
- Name of the archive desired – in order to find basic information on collections within a specific archive, select the name of the archive from the drop-down list. If no specific archive is selected, the search will be across all archives.
- Title of Fond/Name of Creator – enter the full name of an archival fond, or any number of characters (min. 2) from the fond name.
- Category/Sub-Category – this narrows your search by category or sub-category of records being searched – i.e. military records, notarial records, education, etc.
- NOTE: In order to get a list of all fonds preserved in a given archive, search on the name of the archive ONLY.
IZA – Inwentarze Zespołów Archiwalnych / United Inventory of Archival Fonds
Includes inventories to more than 23,200 fonds – or 28% of all fonds preserved in branches of the Polish State Archives. Inventories provide a list of all records found in a fond, or group of records authored by an institution such as a government agency or cultural institution.
Click here to access the databse.
How are the records arranged on IZA?
According to the IZA website: “The archival unit description comprises the following elements: archives number, fond number, call number of the archival unit, title, border dates of documentation, external description, physical condition, form, language and type of writing, number of cards or pages, format, former call numbers and comments.”
How does one search IZA? Several options are listed here.
- Option 1: Check to see whether an inventory for a specific archive have been included in the database.
1. Select the archive of interest from the drop-down menu
2. Initiate a search
3. In the results, all inventories for that archive are listed in numerical order by fond number
4. To display the inventory, clicking the word inwentory in the right hand column
- Option 2: Search for materials by terms at any level of description: fond, series, subseries, item title, etc.