A Guide to Researching Jewish Vital Records in the
Including a Status Report of the JRI-Poland Project
Contents and Links
The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), also known as the Mormons, has microfilmed
birth, marriage and death records of many of the Jewish communities of
19th century Poland including Lodz records from 1826 to 1877 found in the
Lodz Archives. This microfilm collection is stored in Salt Lake City, Utah,
and copies of the films may be ordered to and viewed at hundreds of Family
History Centers around the world. Locations of Family History Centers are
listed in your local telephone directory. Family History Centers in Los
Angeles and New York have Lodz microfilms on permanent loan. While there
are no Family History Centers in Israel, about half of the LDS collection
is available at the Douglas E. Goldman Jewish Genealogy Center (formerly
known as DOROT), located at Beth Hatefutsoth,
the Museum of the Diaspora, in Tel Aviv.
Microfilm for Lodz
Microfilm of Jewish vital records available
for Lodz (to see a detailed inventory of these microfilms, click
PERMANENT LOAN: Beth
||BH, LA, NY
||BH, LA, NY
||BH, LA, NY
||BH, LA, NY
||BH, LA, NY
||BH, LA, NY
At the end of each year
there are three alphabetical indexes, one each for births, marriages and deaths.
From 1826 to 1867, records are in Polish. Beginning in 1868 (and continuing in
all records through W.W.I), records are in Russian. Polish and Russian
dictionaries are very helpful in doing this type of research. Family History
Centers usually maintain a brief Polish dictionary on site. For further
A Translation Guide to 19th-Century Polish-Language Civil-Registration Documents,
Judith Frazin's online guide to translating and interpreting Polish documents,
Polish Occupations Definitions (a JewishGen infofile) and
Vital Records in Poland, an excellent in-depth discussion of Jewish
vital records in Poland by Warren Blatt. For help with reading the Russian
(Cyrillic) records see In Their Words, Volume II: Russian, by
Jonathan D. Shea and William F. Hoffman, Language & Lineage Press. Volume I of
this series details how to read Polish records.
The years before 1826, the Patronymic years 1810 through 1825, were indexed
In the end-of-year indices, a record
number or "Akta" number is listed next to each name, which refers back
to the exact location of the actual vital record. Each "Akta" is handwritten
in old script in paragraph form and in chronological order, much like a
journal entry. Within these "paragraphs," all of the relevant information
is given, usually in this format: Recorded first is the location, date
and time that the witnesses appeared at the civil registration office to
report the event. The witnesses' names, and usually occupations, ages and
places of residence are listed. The date, time and location of the actual
event is recorded, along with other specific information.
Leivers. The years 1810 through 1822 are searchable now on the Jewish Records
Indexing-Poland website. The final three years (1823, 1824, and 1825) are
indexed and will be online soon. See these indices by going to
JRI-Poland's home page
and click on Patronymic years under Sources on the left for an explanation about
these indices. Then scroll down to Lodz to view the database.
For births, the name, age and occupation
of the father and the maiden name and age of the mother are listed, along
with their place of residence. It is important to note that registration of
births was not required to be done immediately, and that many families
registered their children's births at one time, years after the actual births. Some births were not
registered until just before the individual's marriage. This practice is
especially evident in the latter half of the 19th century. If a search of the
JRI-Poland database shows children's births with the same surname and
consecutive "Akt" numbers in the same year, one may reasonably assume
they are siblings.
For marriages, the ages and places of residence
of the bride and groom, along with the names, maiden names and places of
residence of both sets of parents are listed. The same applies to the two
witnesses and rabbi. Sometimes the information about the "banns," or marriage
contract, will be listed as well. For deaths, usually two members of the Chevra Kadisha
went to the civil registration office to report the event.
If the decedent was a child, his age and the names of his parents are listed.
If the decedent was an adult, his age, occupation, parents' names, surviving
spouse and children are usually listed. The signatures of the witnesses
and Polish clerk appear in each "Akta." Copies of these records can be
made on copiers at the centers.
Below is an English translation of
"Akta 173," an 1874 Lodz birth record. To see the original record, in Russian,
1874 Birth Record of Josek
son of Lewek Fajersztajn and
173. It occurred in the office
of the clerk of civil affairs at the town of Lodz in the year one thousand
eight hundred seventy-four on the fourth of June at eight o'clock in the
morning, appeared Lewek Fajersztajn, age twenty-two, residing in the town
of Mishki. There also appeared Markus Elberger, age fifty-five, and Bierka
Hedlish, age forty, residents of the place. They brought a male newborn
claiming he was born on the first of June of this year at two o'clock in
the afternoon from his wedded wife Hany, from the house of Lipkow, age
twenty. They named the male newborn Josek Dawid. It was signed by the attendants.
(signature of Polish clerk)
The goal of Jewish Records Indexing-Poland is to build an
Internet-searchable index to Jewish vital records of Poland. Indices to more
than 1 million records from numerous towns are now available. The indexing
of available indexes to LDS microfilm of Lodz has been completed by the Lodz
Shtetl CO-OP, under the leadership of Morris Wirth, and added to the
Lodz Province, old Piotrkow Gubernia
Indexes to 15,574 records
Births, Marriages, and Deaths: 1826-1877
The JRI-Poland project has two major components. The first is the indexing of
the above mentioned LDS microfilmed records comprising about 2,000 films
from more than 500 Polish towns and villages. These microfilms generally include
Jewish records from 1826 to 1865 or 1875 with even some rare cases of 20th
century records. Further information is available at the
JRI-Poland web site.
State Archives Project
component is the Polish State Archives Project. While the LDS films
contain approximately 2 million records, there are an estimated additional five
to seven million 19th century records that were not filmed. Generally, these
cover the last 25-35 years of the 19th century, when many of our grandparents
and great-grandparents lived in Poland. Only records more than 100 years old
available for the indexing project.
This is known
as the JRI-Poland/Polish State Archives Project. Indexing
in Poland on an archive by archive basis with a JRI-Poland "Archive Coordinator"
taking responsibility for ALL the towns in the archive. He or she appointed Town
Leaders to handle fund raising for the records of each town. Polish
professionals did the data entry, from photocopies of index pages. Copies of
these non-microfilmed records were ordered through the Polish State Archives via
Jewish Records Indexing-Poland forms.
Effective November 30,
2006, after more than nine years of cooperation, the new head archivist in
Poland chose to terminate the Indexing Project that covered the indexing of all
Jewish records not previously microfilmed by the LDS Church that are in the
possession of the PSA and are more than 100 years old. The JRI-Poland online
ordering system was terminated.
However, the online database will continue to operate providing a finding aid
and tool for researchers to identify records of interest. The JRI-Poland order
form can still be used to order records directly from the Polish State
Archives. As of now, you must order directly from the Archive or Branch where
your records are held. The website for the Lodz Polish State Archives is:
Write to them at:
PANSTWOWE W LODZI
PLAC WOLNOSCI 1
PHONE : +48 42 632 62 01
FAX : +48 42 632 02 11
In the future, JRI-Poland
is planning to have an order form you can use to work directly with the Archives
and some instructions that may be helpful for researchers.
(1878-1898) of the Polish State Archives Project for the city of Lodz
has been completed: indexes of over 50,000 late 19th century Jewish vital
records of the city of Lodz, from 1878 to 1898, have been added to the
JRI-Poland database. Phase II (the Lodz Seven-Year Initiative, 1899-1905), indexes
of over 43,000 records,
is also complete but only
the years 1899 through 1901 are fully funded and on-line now. The remaining
four years will be added to the database when they are funded.
information about these projects, please continue on to the next section or
Roni Seibel Liebowitz.
to the Lodz Polish State Archives Project
The Polish State Archives Coordinator for Lodz is
Roni Seibel Liebowitz and the Lodz PSA Assistant Archives Coordinator is Joe
Ross. They coordinate the work of the Town Leaders who assume
responsibility for fund raising for the indexing of their towns' records. To
volunteer, contact Roni Seibel Liebowitz. Please give what you can so that
all current and future generations of researchers of the Lodz region
can benefit from this project. Be sure to designate for which town
your contribution is directed. Your
contribution in U.S. Dollars may be mailed to:
Jewish Records Indexing - Poland
c/o Sheila Salo, Treasurer
5607 Greenleaf Rd.
Cheverly, MD 20785
Telephone: (301) 341-1261
FAX: 1-810-592-1768 (24 hours)
For those of you living
outside the United States, VISA will convert your US Dollars contribution to
your local currency.
However, please identify
the amount of your contribution in US Dollars. Special arrangements have been
made to also accept bank checks in your local currency.
Canadian contributors: to
be eligible for a tax receipt, you must pay by cheque and use the form and
follow the instructions at:
of $100 to Phase I (1878-1898) or Phase II (1899-1905) of the city of
Lodz PSA Project are entitled to receive the respective database in the form
of an Excel file for their own personal research. Please contact
Liebowitz for more details.
a non-profit tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the U.S.
Internal Revenue Code. The
JRI-Poland web site, mailing list, and database are hosted by JewishGen,
on the Polish State Archives Project
Updates on the status of the Lodz
Polish State Archives Project are available at
page is updated frequently so check back often to view the current status
of this important project.
of Towns Whose Jewish Vital Records are Located in the Lodz Archives
NOTE: Towns not included in the Lodz
Polish State Archives Project are marked with an asterisk(s). Portions
of these towns' records are contained in other branches of the Polish State Archives, and are included in
either the *Piotrkow
Polish State Archives Project, Gloria
Berkenstat Freund, Coordinator, or the **Rawa Mazowiecka Polish State
Archives Project, Joe Ross,
Nowe Miasto nad Pilica