In July 1997, Jewish Records Indexing - Poland (JRI-Poland) entered into a
milestone agreement with the Polish State Archives (PSA), to index their holdings of
Jewish vital records that were not microfilmed by the Mormons (LDS). While the LDS
microfilms contain approximately two million Jewish vital records, it is estimated that there
are at least another five million 19th century Jewish vital records that are not
accessible on microfilm. Generally, these are from the years 1866 to 1902, a time when
many of our grandparents and great-grandparents were living in Poland. (See chart below.)
Until now, these vital records from the last decades of the 19th century have not been available outside of
Poland. To find records for your family has meant sending search requests to the Polish
State Archives and paying an hourly fee for their efforts. On the other hand, no one will
research as thoroughly as we ourselves, and without exact name spellings and dates, we
might not get what we paid for.
The creation of indices is being done on an archive by archive basis and to date records have been indexed for late 19th
century records in registers held in eighteen branches of the Polish State Archives. For
projects underway, view the Project Status page.
Work can only start on a specific
archive after a volunteer has agreed to become "Archive Coordinator." There are
75 branches of the Polish State Archives. Click here for a
list of which branch of the Archives holds which town's records. For details of specific
birth, marriage and death records available for each town, consult Miriam Weiner's Jewish
Roots in Poland. (Note, however, that many reference are now out of date as additional
registers have been transferred from town civil records offices, often up to and including
records for the year 1900.)
How the project works
The volunteer Archive Coordinator is at the center of the entire project to index the records of a
specific archive. For those branches with many towns/records, JRI-Poland endorses the
creation of "Archive Coordinator Teams." For the purpose of this description,
please assume the term Archive Coordinator can also mean teams of two, three or more
people, or one Archive Coordinator with several assistant coordinators..
The Archive Coordinator works closely with the Project Coordinator of Jewish Records Indexing
Poland in all aspects relating to the indexing of the records for the specific Archive.
The Archive Coordinator is provided with an up-to-date list of all holdings of Jewish
vital record registers in the specific archive.
The Archive Coordinator finds and appoints volunteer Town Leaders, typically from among researchers
listed in the JewishGen Family Finder for the towns. Town Leaders are responsible for fund
raising to pay for the cost of the indexing activity for their town. The Archive
Coordinator may also choose to be the Town Leader for one or two towns, particularly those
in which they may be interested.
Inventorying the LDS microfilms for each town
The process starts with the creation of an inventory of the microfilmed records for all the
towns in the branch archive. This ensures that index pages for all years/types not
previously filmed by the LDS are ordered and the records will become part of the database.
Inventorying is done by "Town Leaders" and their work is coordinated by the
The process of indexing
JRI-Poland will purchase the index pages for the non-microfilmed years for all towns in the branch
archive. As funds are raised, the records for each town will be indexed by the JRI-Poland
team in Warsaw. The post-1867 records are in Russian and the data entry is done in
Cyrillic. JRI-Poland Database Manager Michael
Tobias has developed a program to convert the entries to Latin character spelling.
When released, the indices for a town will be added to the JRI-Poland
Searching the resulting data / Ordering records of interest
Once the data has been added to the JRI-Poland database, you will be able to search for your family
surnames using Daitch-Mokotoff soundex, and for every name you will find the year of the
document, document type (birth, marriage or death) and record (akt) number. You may then
easily order a copy of the document at US$ 10. each from the Polish State Archives. A special order form is provided on the JRI-Poland web site. (The
order form is also linked from the search results page.) This process is much quicker,
simpler and far less expensive than having the archive conduct a fishing expedition for
The cost of indexing
While every town is different, JRI-Poland has built up some experience during the indexing of the first three archives.
It is estimated that the cost to index each town's Jewish vital records for these 20 to 30
years will range from $200 to $1,000, depending upon the size of the towns Jewish
population. This estimate includes the cost of purchasing the photocopies of the index
pages and the entering of all the entries into the database by experienced Russian-speaking professionals in Poland. If every researcher listed
in the JewishGen Family Finder (JGFF) with an
interest in a town makes a (U.S.) tax-deductible contribution in the range of $30, each
town's goal could easily be achieved. As a special bonus, all those contributing a
pre-specified amount to the indexing of their town's records will be eligible to receive a
complete copy of the entire database. This amount is typically US $50 but may vary
according to the size of the database.
Support will typically come from researchers with an interest in the records for each town or nearby towns. Town
Leaders, with the help of Archive Coordinators, reach out to these researchers through
direct contacts, posts on JRI-Polands mailing list and JewishGen, and PSA Project
It is important to remember that JRI-Poland has two components: the indexing of the records in
the LDS microfilms and the Polish State Archives project to index those records not
filmed. If you cannot volunteer for one, participate in the other. Help us meet the
- To continue to find and
mobilize volunteers to start up Shtetl CO-OPs for the remaining 400 towns in the LDS
microfilms. Click here for more information on the Shtetl
Coordinators" are needed for the Polish State Archives Project and they, in turn,
identify and enlist potential Town Leaders to assume responsibility of raising the funds
needed to index their towns records.
Participation is the key word;
JRI-Poland welcomes individuals from every country. Your town or the towns near yours will
not be indexed without your/someones participation. If you want to see your
town's records indexed, then volunteer to be an "Archive Coordinator" or
To volunteer, contact: Stanley Diamond, Executive Director, Jewish Records Indexing Poland at SMSDiamond@aol.com
1808 - 1825
1826 - ca. 1865
ca. 1866 - 1909*
1910 - 1940
Type of records
Roman Catholic civil transcripts
Jewish vital records
Location of records
LDS microfilms **
Polish State Archives. Not microfilmed
Towns = Civil Records Offices (USCs)
JRI-Poland Indexing Status
Limited indexing underway
Polish State Archives Project
* Starting in 1868, records are in the Russian language.
** Approximately half of the LDS microfilm collection is available in Israel at the Douglas E. Goldman Jewish Genealogy Center at Beth
Hatefutsoth in Tel Aviv.
Framed photograph of IAJGS Award to Jewish Records Indexing - Poland; Andrzej Biernat, Executive Director, Polish
State Archives; Michael Tobias, Database Manager, JRI-Poland; Stanley Diamond, Executive Director, JRI-Poland