Research Tips

Polish Genealogy Tip


Opening of Secret UN Archive Yields New Holocaust Revelations

London’s Wiener Library is providing access to the complete archive of the UN War Crimes Commission, an invaluable cache of tens of thousands of historic documents that have been largely inaccessible to researchers for more than 70 years.


Polish Names tripping you up

Lack of familiarity with the Polish language is a common problem for English-speakers researching their Polish roots. If you’re not ready to invest in a more comprehensive translation guide (e.g. Hoffman and Shea’s “In Their Words” series of genealogical translation guides), you can get some basic assistance with Polish translations from Family Search’s Polish genealogical word list. In addition to common words and phrases used in Polish vital records, there are specific sections dedicated to dealing with numbers (both cardinal and ordinal), dates and time.  Several downloadable files to assist you also on page.

(Tip provided by Polish Genealogy Facebook page)


Searching Polish Cemeteries for Ancestors

Many Genealogical researchers turn to cemeteries to locate information on their ancestries.  And many are frustrated in this attempt.  Different cemetery protocols exist in Poland, and a grave site is rented, not purchased as in the US.  Rental terms could be for 20-30 years, and there are few “permanent” spaces.  Additionally, the renewal rate tends to be very expensive, and in some cases is 10 times the average medium salary.   There is a growing effort, and cemeteries throughout Poland are being “inventoried,” and the various results are being published on the internet.  Many include a search engine to make the research easier. 

 “Grobonet” ( – not very efficient, and you may have to search cemeteries individually.  It has over 300 cemeteries throughout the county.  Also, not all inventories are posted on the internet.  You just have to look and see.

Another site for searching is PRESSTU.PL.  It lists over 10 million graves, and they do have a search engine to assist.

Geocentarz ( ) or e-cemeteries is also available. 

Some cemeteries have been catalogued by local organizations, and have their own unique search engine.  It always a good effort to search the parish name and cemetarz together to see what’s available.

A major site for this type of research is  More than 60,000 names registered (mostly in the area now part of the Ukraine).  However, there is a search engine index of all cemeteries that have been photographed by the site owner.  A small photo is free from the site, but you can purchase a better quality one from the site.

Be advised that some cemeteries are in the process of being inventoried, and are not yet complete, and may not be on the website currently. 

Additional databases are available, such as Obituaries Warsaw – Obituaries Database.  Primarily covers obits covered in the Warsaw press, mainly after WWII, but also covers a partial list of burials in the Warsaw area.  Alert – some fees for different information.

 Cmentarium (  although not a grave locater, does contain a large amount of information on various cemeteries (obtained from different resources).  The site helps you know what information is available about the different cemeteries.  

Some sites are in Polish – just use the “translate” function for English.  Not a comprehensive list for cemetery search, but it’s a good starting point. 


 Photos available from National Digital Archive


Photos from the National Digital Archive in Poland 

Connect with your ancestors and possibly obtain a visual look at their time and culture.  An excellent resource of historic photos from Poland is the  Archiwum Cyfrowe, or National Digital Archive. 

You can search for photos of your ancestral villages according to place name using the site’s search form ( which can be translated into English, if you prefer, by using Google Chrome as your browser and right-clicking on the page. Individual photos can be downloaded and used free of charge (with appropriate source attribution), but additional services are also available per the archive’s price list.  See 


Genealogy of Poles 


Genealogy of Poles Foundation has launched the English version of the Genealogy of Poles (10 volumes in print) – check out the PGS-MN Research page for “Polish-base websites”

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