What’s New in JRI–Poland?
Stanley M. Diamond, Executive Director
Jewish Records Indexing – Poland
6500 Mackle Road, #201, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H4W 3G7
Tel: 514‐484‐0100,  Fax: 514‐484‐7306,  SMSDiamond@aol.com, www.jri‐poland.org

In February 2013, Jewish Records Indexing ‐ Poland and the Polish State Archives (PSA) signed an
agreement marking a new phase of cooperation that is of great significance to those searching their
Jewish roots in Poland.  The agreement has enabled JRI‐Poland to rapidly expand its activities in
Poland and its online database of indices.

In an announcement reflecting the strong significance of these records and their importance to
family historians around the world, the PSA launched a massive effort to digitize all vital records in
their more than 30 Regional Archives and to make them available ‐ free ‐ on their National Digital
Archives and Regional Archive websites.

JRI‐Poland is serving the research community by linking search results to the PSA’s digital images of
the Jewish records. As of June 2015, several million entries have been linked to digital images of
records, pages near the digital image, or folders holding the digital image.

Introducing “Phase 3” of JRI‐Poland

Since its founding in 1995, there have been two phases in the activity of Jewish Records Indexing –
Poland, starting with “Phase 1”, the initial mission of creating basic indices of records microfilmed
by the LDS, and then “Phase 2,” the indexing of later years of records in Polish Archives not filmed
by the LDS.  Recent changes in Polish archival policies and privacy laws are generating dramatic
new opportunities for researchers tracing Jewish roots in Poland.  This presentation will introduce
Phase 3 of the JRI‐Poland project…

“Phase 3” has two components made possible by:  

1.  The availability of digital images – facilitating more detailed extraction of the five million records
currently in the JRI‐Poland database as well as those to be added in future.

Online images are making it possible to both expedite linking of search results to images and
facilitate the expansion of basic indices ‐ currently in the database ‐ to more detailed extracts.
Where possible, future data entry will include more detailed extracts of records.  When town‐linked
images are available, those towns will be listed on the website.  The invaluable role of volunteer
Archive Coordinators and Town Leaders in this process will be explained in detail.

2.  New Polish laws for the protection of personal data (as of March 1, 2015) are allowing JRI‐Poland
to access/scan/extract marriage and death records up to 1934 (more than 80‐years old in Civil
Records Offices (USCs) of more than 600 towns in Poland.

These changes will have a significant impact on both the JRI‐Poland organization and the
researcher community.

Jewish Records of Poland

A remarkable number of Jewish records of Poland have survived in branches of the Polish State
Archives (PSA), town civil records offices (Urząd Stanu Cywilnego), municipal offices and museums.
Vital records of Congress Poland towns from 1808 to 1860/1890, have been microfilmed and are
accessible in Family History Centers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter‐day Saints (LDS) ‐
Mormons.  Records up to ca. 1914 are stored in the PSA. For current information on the records for
your town, write to questions@jri‐poland.org.  

Jewish Records Indexing ‐ Poland (JRI‐Poland) is creating searchable on‐line indices/extracts of
Jewish records from current and former territories of Poland.  Where such records are available,
they may include towns that are now part of Lithuania, Ukraine and Belarus.

Founded 20 years ago, the project was an outgrowth of Stanley Diamond’s need for broad‐based
access to the Jewish vital records of the former Łomża Gubernia for genetic research purposes.
Steven Zedeck of Nashua, NH and Michael Tobias of Glasgow, Scotland used their technical skills to
bring the project to life. Diamond became Executive Director in January 1997.  JRI‐Poland is
managed by a board of volunteers.

JRI‐Poland Record Sources

The LDS films contain approximately two million records.  In addition, there are millions of unfilmed
records in branches of the Polish State Archives for the 40 to 50 years prior to 1915, when many of
our grandparents and great‐grandparents lived in Poland.  Only indices to birth records more than
100 years old, and marriage and death records more than 80 years old may be made available
online. Registers with records less than 100 years old are typically located in town civil records
offices (Urząd Stanu Cywilnego).

To supplement vital records or provide other sources for towns whose records are missing.
JRI‐Poland includes additional types of records principally among which are Books of Residents
(house‐by‐house censuses documenting all occupants) and census records.

Other sources in the database include WWI military casualty records, army draft lists, indices to
burials in cemeteries and gravestone files, Polish passports, ghetto death records, birth, marriage
and death announcements in newspapers in Poland and court and legal announcements in official
newspapers (Monitor Polski).

In 2014, Jewish Records Indexing – Poland and the Foundation for Documentation of Jewish
Cemeteries (The database of the Jewish Cemeteries in Poland) signed a collaborative agreement to
enable multiple‐field searches of the JRI‐Poland database to display links to transcriptions and
photographs of gravestones in more than 80 cemeteries in towns in Poland. Included are almost
60,000 graves in the Okopowa Street Cemetery in Warsaw, the largest in Poland.

The JRI‐Poland database includes record entries from more than 550 towns. However, there are
certain towns for which records have been indexed, but until the cost of the indexing has been
covered through researcher donations, the data cannot be added to the searchable database.  Excel
files with this data are available to Qualified Contributors to individual projects. The JRI‐Poland
NameFinder” Excel Add‐In simplifies searching data files.

Medical/Genetic Applications

JRI‐Poland has been recognized by the medical and scientific community because of the potential
benefit of the database for families trying to trace their medical histories, particularly those at
increased risk for hereditary conditions and diseases.  As a result of statistical analyses indicating a
high incidence of medical and genetic abnormalities in individuals of Polish ‐ Jewish descent, a
finding aid is being created for records in Polish Civil Records Offices to assist individuals who may
need answers to medical‐related questions or require bone marrow or other transplants for life‐
saving procedures.  In this regard, JRI‐Poland has received commendations from the Gift of Life
Foundation and the National Marrow Donor Program. This data also has value to the scientific
community to prevent the spread of known genetic traits and life‐threatening diseases.

Building the Database of Jewish Records Indexing ‐ Poland

1.  Indexing of records on microfilm

There are more than two million vital records in the LDS microfilms of Jewish registers.  More than
half have been indexed and many more are in progress.  However, there are hundreds of films yet to
be indexed and for which volunteers are needed.  Indexing is typically done by a single dedicated
volunteer or groups of volunteers with a common interest in an ancestral town or area.  Volunteers
are needed to index records from microfilms of many other towns.“Contact us” notations on The
JRI‐Poland “Your Town” pages indicate when a microfilm has not yet been indexed and for which
volunteers are needed.

Where they are available on microfilm, Cyrillic script entries (from the post‐1867 Russian years’
registers) are in the main transliterated by professionals whose work is funded by contributions
from both individuals and groups of genealogists around the world.

2.  Records in the Polish State Archives – not on microfilm

Indexing of pre‐1907 records has been generally completed for virtually all branches of the Archives
with the exception of those in the former Germanic areas.  For many towns, records up to 1912/1913
have been indexed.

The JRI‐Poland database includes extracts for almost one million vital records from 93 towns in the
East Galician area (now part of Ukraine) in the AGAD Archives (The Central Archives of Historical
Records in Warsaw). AGAD holds many of the records for the areas of the former Lwów,
Stanisławów, and Tarnopol voivodships (now in Ukraine). The registers are mainly for the period
from 1877‐1914, when these areas were a part of the Austro‐Hungarian province of Galicia.

Special Contributors to the Jewish Records Indexing ‐ Poland Database

Douglas Goldman Jewish Genealogy Center, Beit Hatfutsot, Museum of the Jewish Diaspora, Tel
Aviv: The Center houses a major collection of microfilms of records prepared by LDS from towns in
Poland.  Volunteers have created many tens of thousands of extracts of vital records of Będzin,
Białystok, Ciepelów, Gniewoszow, Golub‐Dobrzyń, Góra Kalwaria, Kozienice, Kraków, Łowicz,
Plońsk, Radom, Rawa Maz., Sandomierz, Siedlce, Sulmierzyce, Szrensk, Tarnów, Warszawa,
Włoszczowa, Wolbórz and Zakroczym.  Work is underway on other towns.

Kielce‐Radom Special Interest Group: Extracts of Jewish vital records for a number of towns have
been published in the Kielce‐Radom SIG Journal.  All editions of the Journal have now been added
to the JRI‐Poland website in searchable PDF files.  The data is being integrated into the searchable
JRI‐Poland database.

Jewish Historical Institute, Warsaw (JHI): Utilizing significant grant funds from the Jewish
Genealogical Society, Inc (New York), JRI‐Poland indexed genealogical‐related holdings at the JHI.
These include indices to post‐1877 Krakow banns and marriage records, thousands of deaths in the
Warsaw Ghetto, the Biała Podlaska 1939 Census, and Aliyah Passport file.

Andrychow, Bytom, Bielsko‐Biala, Czeladż‐Będzin, Kraków, Łódż, Opole, Oswiecim and Warszawa,
Cemeteries: JRI‐Poland has incorporated the indices to these burials in the JRI‐Poland database.
These are in addition to the Foundation for Documentation of Jewish Cemeteries graves searchable
by the JRI‐Poland website.

JRI‐Poland Web Site

The web site contains a wealth of information for both beginners and experienced researchers such
as Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), “Your Town” pages, database contents, surname lists,
detailed search instructions, status of projects, etc.  A Research Guide is available on the web site in
English, French, Hebrew, Polish, Russian and Spanish. The home page www.jri‐poland.org is the
starting point for all activities.

The Jewish Records Indexing ‐ Poland ‘Discussion Group’

Discussion Group subscribers share information and participate in discussions relating to records as
well as receive updates on the database contents and interrelated matters.  To subscribe, go to the
“About Us” link on the JRI‐Poland home page. jri‐poland.org/join.htm

Jewish Records Indexing ‐ Poland; a shared vision

The JRI‐Poland project is built on a shared vision and partnering with individuals, archives, and
independent organizations around the world.  Every individual with an interest in the Jewish records
of Poland can play a part by volunteering and/or supporting record indexing.

JRI‐Poland is an independent non‐profit tax‐exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the U.S.
Internal Revenue Code.  While the JRI‐Poland database, website and discussion group are hosted by
JewishGen, JRI‐Poland administration, operations and fundraising are entirely separate.  Only
searches on the JRI‐Poland “Search Our Database” page provide free multiple‐field searches.

JRI-Poland – Winner of the 2014 IAJGS
“Award for Outstanding Contribution to Jewish Genealogy via the Internet”