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Ancestors from Polish Borderlands (Kresy) part 1

The term Kresy refers to Eastern part of the Second Polish Republic constituting nearly half of the territory of the state. After WWII the territories were annexed by the Soviet Union. Today they are part of Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania.

There are several repositories of the vital records from Volhynia:

  • Ukrainian, Belarusian and Lithuenian National Archives
  • Central Archives of Historical Records in Poland (Archiwum Główne Akt Dawnych)
  • some Polish State Archives (i.e. in Suwałki, Przemyśl and Rzeszów)
  • some Church Archives in Poland (i.e. in Białystok and Drohiczyn)

Records form the last 100 years are stored in Civil Registry Office in Warsaw.

There is no single database for searching or viewing vital records from the whole area of Kresy. As for the institutions located in Poland – Central Archives of Historical Record (CAHR) is the one that stores the greatest number of documents and vast majority is available on line. The collections are arranged in accordance to the area and religion and those two pieces of information are needed to perform a research since no name indexes are available on CAHR website.

How to access the records?

  1. Go to www.agad.gov.pl/inwentarze/testy.html and choose the collection you are interested in. Since the website is in Polish only you may wish to use google translator to translate the page into English.
  2. The easiest way to search for the place name within chosen collection is to use Ctrl+F. You may as well scroll down the list to „Hasła geograficzne” section and search for the locality there. Each locality is assigned an inventory number or numbers. Write them down as they indicate the archival items that refer to the locality.
  3. Click the INWENTARZ link in the menu on the left, this will take you to the archival items section. Scroll down the screen and search for the number or numbers you found next to the locality (they are indicated as SYGN.).
  4. In the title field (TYTUŁ) you will find information on the type of records (urodzenia-births, śluby – marriages, zgony – deaths) and the area covered. Sometimes it will be the whole parish, sometimes a single village or town.
  5. Dates field (DATY) informs on the years covered by the records.
  6. Once you click on GALERIA ZE SKANAMI link you will be taken to a gallery of thumbnails.
  7. Click on the scan to view the full size image. You can enlarge the image by using Ctrl and “+” or reduce it by using Ctrl and “-“.
  8. To navigate between scans use arrows located at the bottom of the page.
  9. To save the scan, right click your mouse and choose the option Save Image As…

If you don’t find the locality you are looking for …

There might be several reasons for that:

  • you search wrong collection (different religion, different region)
  • there is no collection for the location within CAHR’s resources (please remember CAHR stores only a part of Kresy vital records and you may have to check with other institutions)

More on Kresy:

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