Polish Civil Registration Reading Aid
The following reading aids are designed to help you read a typical birth, marriage, or death entry in Polish civil registration. Since the wording of these records was standardized, it is possible to learn the format, and with careful effort, to read Polish records. Use these aids for records 1808-1868 and 1918 to the present.
When using the reading aids, please note the following:
- Be flexible. Terms and spellings may vary. Information may not always be presented in the exact order shown in the examples. For example, the year may be given before the day of the month or the age may follow the occupation, etc. You must thoroughly familiarize yourself with the format, not just the words.
- It is not uncommon to find double dates given in the entries. When this occurs, the first is the Julian date according to the old Julian calendar. The second is the Gregorian date according to the modern Gregorian calendar used in the world today.
Napoleonic Birth Records in Polish
Birth records contain data on:
- the parents' age
- social standing
- full place of residence
- full date of birth and registration (down to the hour)
A. Place and date of registration of birth. (Place is given with grammatical ending and the date and time of day are written out in Polish.) Use the Polish Genealogical Word List to read the date. Following are translations of the Polish entries:
Dzialo się w wsi Oporowie dnia trzeciego
It came to pass in village (of) Oporów (on) day third (of)
lutego tyziąc ośmset pięćdziesiątego drugiego roku
February thousand eight-hundred fiftieth – second year (1852),
o godzinie dziewiątego z rana. . . .
at hour ninth in the morning. . . .
►(Prior to the mid-1810s records will start with Roku. This earlier format gives year first, date, time of day, and then the title and often the name of the registrar.)
Roku tysiąc osemsetnego czternastego dnia trzeciego
(of) Year thousand eight-hundred fourteen (1814) (on) day third (of)
- lutego o godzinie dziewiątego z rana przed Nami Augustynem
February at hour ninth in the morning before us Augustyn
Walęckiem proboszcz parafii Oporowskiej sprawuającym obowiązki
Walęcki priest (of) parish (of) Oporów discharging duties (of)
urzędnika stanu cywilnego gminy Oporowskiej powiatu
civil registrar (of) township (of) Oporów district (of)
Orlowskiej w Departmencie Warszawskim.
Orlów in Department (of) Warsaw
B. The father of the child presents himself (or the midwife if the child is illegitimate) to report the birth.
Stawil się Marcin Gorecki okupnik rolnik, lat cztyrdziesciści
Presented himself Marcin Gorecki tenant farmer, years forty
mający / liczący w Czyzeminie zamieszkaly.
having / counting in Czyzemiń residing.
C. Two witnesses are named with genitive grammatical inflection. Their occupations, ages, and residences are given. (This is sometimes omitted in earlier records.)
w obecności Macieja Nowaka lat trzydzieści pięć mający i
in presence (of) Maciej Nowak years thirty- five having and (of)
Jana Grabowskiego lat pięćdziesiąt liczący, obydwóch rolników w
Jan Grabowski years fifty counting, both farmers in
D. The child is presented and the sex is indicated.
i okazał Nam dziecię, płci męskiej /źeńskiej. . . .
and showed us child, (of) sex male / female. . . .
E. Place of birth is given with date and time of day. Use the Polish Genealogical Word List to read the date.
urodzone w Czyzemienie w domu pod numerem trzynastym, . . . .
born in Czyzemiń in house (under) number thirteen, . . . .
na dniu dzisiejszym / wczorajszym / onegdajszym /
on day today / yesterday / day before yesterday /
trzydziestym grudnia / miesiąca bieźącego. . . .
thirtieth (of) December / month current. . . .
roku bieźącego/ przeszłego o godzinie szóstej wieczorem.
(of) year current / preceding at hour sixth in the evening.
F. The mother of the child is given in genitive grammatical inflection with her age. The record will state if she is the wife of the one presenting himself. If not, the record will state whether she is unmarried. When the mother is married but the father is merely not present, then his name is usually given between the birth date and the name of the mother.
(Urodzone) z jego małźonki Maryanny z Grabowskich / Nowaków
(Born) of his wife Maryanna Grabowska / Nowak
lat trzydzieści trzy mającej.
years thirty- three having.
►(Earlier records, prior to the mid-1820s will usually read differently.)
cświadczając, iź jest spłodzone z niego i Maryanny
testifying that (it) is begotten of him and (of) Maryanna
z / z domu Mazurków lat trzydzieści trzy mającej jego małźonki.
(maiden name) Mazurek years thirty- three having, his wife.
G. Some records will indicate that on this day the christening was performed.
Dziecieciu temu na Chrzcie Świętym w dniu dzisiejszym odbytym.
(for) child this Christening Holy on day today performed.
H. The child is given a name.
nadane jest Imię Jan Marcin / zyczeniem jego jest nadać mu Imię Ewa
given is name Jan Marcin / desire his is give it name Ewa
I. The Godparents are named.
jego Rodzicami Chrzestnymi byli Alojzy Kowalski i Elźbieta Adamska.
his Godparents were Alojzy Kowalski and Elźbieta Adamska.
J. The entry was read and signed by the witnesses or by the priest/rabbi if the witnesses could not write.
Akt ten stawającemu i świadkom przeczytany został,
Entry this (to the one) present and witnesses read was,
Ojciec i świadkowie pisać nie umieją.
Father and witnesses (to) write not know how.
Napoleonic Marriage Records in Polish
Marriage entries are the most informative. Marrying was subject to specific conditions.
- A male below the age of 18 or a female below the age of 15 could not contract marriage. (The emperor could give dispensations in exceptional, important situations).
- A son under 25 and a daughter under 21 had to have their parents' consent; in case of parental disagreement, the father's consent sufficed.
- If the parents were no longer alive or could not be present, then consent was given by grandfathers or, if applicable, brothers or uncles.
- It was impossible to marry a second time without dissolution of the first marriage.
- The wedding had to take place publicly before the civil registrar in the place of residence of one of the newlyweds.
The Code also set forth the obligations proceeding from marriage:
- Newlyweds were obligated to, among other things, live together and support themselves together and to raise children jointly.
- The husband was to protect his wife, his wife was to obey her husband, the wife could not appear in court without her husband's consent (criminal cases were exceptions) except with support of the court.
- The wife could not enter into a second marriage until after 10 months had passed since the previous marriage was dissolved.
- Children did not have the right to demand any estate from their parents, and in accases of parental poverty, were obligated give them support.
The majority of records from the period of the Napoleonic Code gave exact birth dates for the couple according to entries from the registers of their home parishes.
A. Place and date of registration of marriage. (Place is given with grammatical ending and the date and time of day are written out in Polish.) Use the Polish Word List to read the date.
Dzialo się w mieście Olbierzowicach dnia dwódzięstego
It came to pass in place Olbierzowice (on) day twentieth-
siódmego listopadu roku tysiąc osiemset sześcdziesiątego
seventh (of) November year thousand eight-hundred sixtieth-
czwartego, o godzinie dziewiątej rano. . . .
fourth (1864) at hour ninth (in) morning. . . .
►(Prior to the mid-1820s, records will start with Roku. This earlier format gives year first, date, time of day, and then the title and often name of the registrar. See birth format for an example.)
B. In most records after the mid-1820s two witnesses are named, usually with genitive grammatical inflection. Their occupations, ages, and residences are given. (Caution: In some cases the groom and bride present themselves at this point in the entry. In such cases the witnesses will be noted in the Summation.)
Wiadomo czyniemy źe w przytomności świadków Tomasza
Knowingly (we) affirm that in presence (of) witnesses Tomasz
Kolczaka mularz lat trzydzieści i Piotra Studzińskiego
Kolczak bricklayer years thirty and Piotr Studzińki
szewca lat trzydzieści sześć mających, obydwóch w Olbierzowicach
shoemaker years thirty- six having, both in Olbierzowice
zamięskałych. . . .
residing. . . .
Stawiłi się. . .(Names of witnesses as above, without grammatical endings.)
They appeared. . .
C. In most records prior to the mid-1820s and sometimes later, the groom and bride will present themselves. Information will be given as in D below, usually without the instrumental grammatical inflection. If the couple appear together with a witness or official, then the instrument inflection may be required because of the preposition z".
Stawiłi się Ludwik Jan Kowalski, lat. . . . etc., a
(They) presented themselves Ludwik Jan Kowalski, age. . . .etc., and
Panna Tekla Tokarska, lat. . . . etc.
Maiden Tekla Tokarska, age. . . . etc.
Stawil się Rabin Hersz Sztajn wraz z Starozakonami
(He) presented himself Rabbi Hersz Sztajn together with Jews
Szmulem Litmanem, lat. . . . , a Panna Ruchlą Dawidowiczowną, lat. . . .
Szmul Litman, age. . . . , and maiden Ruchla Dawidowiczowna, age. . . .
D. Statement of marriage. If marriage took place on a day different than the day of registration, it will be stated here.
Na dniu dzisiejszym / wczorajszym zawarte zostało Religijne
On day today / yesterday accomplished was Religious
Małźenstwo między. . . .
Marriage between. . . .
E. Names of bridegroom and bride are given. Because the preposition międzyrequires instrumental grammatical inflection, their names and all words describing them will have grammatical endings. For the groom, everything will end with –m. For the bride, everything will end with –ą.Information given will vary. Age, previous marital status and residence are almost always given. Very often the entry will also give place of birth. (In early records prior to the mid-1820s this is often accompanied by a statement that the age and birthplace are confirmed by an extract from the parish register of the birthplace.) Most records give the names and residence of parents of the bride and groom. Other information that may be given would be exact birth date, names of previous marriage partners, etc. The order in which information is given can vary, but the groom is always first with information pertaining to him, followed by the bride and all information pertaining to her.
między Ludwikiem Janem Orlikiem / Kowalskim młodzianem / kawalerem /
between Ludwik Jan Orlik / Kowalski bachelor / bachelor /
wdowcem kowalem / profeszyi kowalskiej w Kaczkowiznie zamieszkałym. . .
widower smith / profession smith in Kaczkowizna residing. . .
urodzonym w Gostynie z / synem niegdyś / zmarłego Tomasza i
born in Gostyn of / son (of) the late / deceased Tomasz and (of)
Justyny z Pinkowskich małźonków Orlików podług
Justyna Pinkowska a married couple (named) the Orliks according to
złoźonej przed Nami metryko wyjęty z Ksiąg kościoła
submitted before us certificate extracted from book (of) church at
Gostyńskiego lat. . . . etc. a Panna Tekla Tokarska / wdowa po Józefie
Gostyn age . . . etc. and maiden Tekla Tokarska / widow of Józef
Gadzińskim zmarłym dnia. . / przy matce zostającą, Córka. . .
Gadziński deceased (on) day. . ./ with mother staying, Daughter (of). . .
►(Information is given for the bride similar to that given for the groom.)
F. As marriages must be preceded by three banns (announcements in the church) the dates of the banns are given, written out in Polish. Some records also state who gave permission for the marriage.
Małźenstwo to poprzedzily trzy zapowiedzie w dniach
Marriage this preceded (by) three announcements on days
dziesiątym, siedmnastym, i dwódziestym czwartym listopadu roku
tenth, seventeenth, and twenty- fourth (of) November year
bieźącego w parafia. Zezwolenie małźenstwa Ojca
current in parish. Permission (for) marriage (by) father (of)
nowozaślubionego i rodziców nowozaślubionej.
groom (newlywed) and parents (of) bride (newlywed).
G. Summation: This includes a statement that there were no objections to the marriage. Sometimes it includes a renaming of the witnesses with an occasional mention of relationship to the bride or groom. Finally, it concludes with a statement, as in birth and death records, that the entry was read to witnesses and that they signed or did not sign, depending on their ability to write.
Napoleonic Death Records in Polish
Death records contain description of the family relationships of the witnesses appearing, exact time and place of death, place of birth and parent's names. If the deceased was married, then the names of his or her spouse and of all living children were given. The cause of death was usually omitted if the person died of natural causes; it was given if the person died as a result of an accident, e.g., drowning, a fall, or fire. Information given in the death record depended on the knowledge of the witnesses who came to report the death.
A. Place and date of registration of death. (Place is given with grammatical ending and the date and time of day are written out in Polish.) Use the Polish Genealogical Word List to read the date.
Działo się w parafii Źychlińskiej w roku tysiąc osemset
It came to pass in parish Źychlin in year thousand eight-hundred
czterdziestiego dnia trzeciego marca o godzinie. . . . etc.
forty (1840) (on) day third (of) March at hour. . . . etc.
►(Prior to the mid-1820s records will start with Roku. This earlier format gives year first, date, time of day, and then the title and often name of the registrar. See birth format for an example.)
B. Two witnesses present themselves to report the death. Their occupations, ages, and residences are given.
Stawiłi się Marcin Cieślak, parobek lat. . . . i
(They) presented themselves Marcin Cieślak, farmhand age. . . . and
Mateusz Czerwiński, formal lat. . . .
Mateusz Czerwiński, farm-wagon driver age. . . .
C. The witnesses testify concerning the death, including the place (given with grammatical ending) and the date and time of day when the death occurred. Use the Polish Genealogical Word List to read the date.
i oświadczyłi iz dnia pierwszego marca / wczorajszego
and (they) testified that (on) day first (of) March / yesterday
roku bieźącego, o godzinie ósmej w wieczor, w wśi Dębicach. . . .
(of) year current, at hour eight in evening, in village Dębice. . . .
D. Name of deceased is given with varying amounts of information. Age and occupation are almost always given. Other information often given would be parents, birthplace, survivors, etc.
Umarł / Umarła Józef Cieślak lat . . . . licząc[y/a], syn /
(He) died / (she) died Józef Cieślak years . . . . counting, son /
córka niegdyś / wspomianego Marcina i Wiktoriyi z
daughter (of) deceased / forementioned Marcin and Wiktorya
Czerwińskich małonków Cieślaków; urodzony w
Czerwińska a married couple (named) the Cieślaks; born in
Prusach / w tej wśi roku . . . . gdziei i z kogo urodzony
Prussia / in this village (in) year. . . . when and of whom born
niewiadomo. Zostawił / zostawiwszy po sobie owdowiałą źonę
unknown. (He) has left / leaving after himself widowed wife
Agatę / owdowiałego meźa Mikołajo / etc.
Agata / widowed husband Mikołaj / etc.