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Genealogical records in the Poznan province

Genealogical records in the Poznan province

A variety of 18th and 19th century records (see also detailed lists) exist and will help you research the history of your Poznan ancestors. The most important are the vital records containing births (baptisms), marriages and deaths. Until 1874, such records were produced solely by the respective authorities of the religion a particular family belonged to. In case of Roman Catholics, the records were held by parish priests, for Protestants their pastors took that job - and in Jewish communities the registration started officially in the 19th century and was performed by the Rabbis. Beginning in 1808 authorities were required to produce a duplicate set of records and submit them to the local justice court.


In 1874, the Prussian administration abandoned the practice of duplicates by introducing civil registries (German: Standesamt) where all residents of a local area were registered on a territorial basis rather than by their religion. Pastors still kept their parish registers but only for internal use of the respective religious community.


The Roman Catholic records collection is the largest one available for this territory. The original records are mostly gathered in the respective diocesan archives (according to the pre-1992 ecclesiastical scheme). In the Archdiocese of Poznan the transfer of records is almost complete. There are only a handful of parishes where pre-1880 records are kept in the local pastor's office. The 'cutoff' date when the records finish in the archive differs, though, but it is typically around 1910. Most of those records have been microfilmed by the LDS. The Gniezno Archdiocese is conducting a records transfer but about one-third of the local records remain in the local parishes. For the western portions of the region, which belong to the Diocese of Zielona Góra and Gorzów, the records are still available in the parishes although in some cases they might be found in State Archives of Poland or Germany. Also, the Bischöfliches Zentralarchiv in Regensburg, Germany possesses most of the Roman Catholic parish originals for the region North to the Notec River (dioceses of Gniezno and Pelplin). In the next months this entire collection will be given back to Poland but the precise date of the transfer to the Polish Catholic archives is not known yet. The LDS have microfilmed the collection of the German Archives and most of those from the Polish State Archives. The filming is currently underway in Gniezno and some of the parishes are already available.


Roman Catholic duplicates for the Poznan Archdiocese are usually available in the Poznan State Archive. For the areas in the Gniezno Archdiocese, the archives in Bydgoszcz and Inowroclaw have most of the duplicates from the districts of Bydgoszcz, Inowroclaw and Strzelno. Duplicates from the neighboring districts were often kept in the parishes, and forwarded to the Archdiocesan Archive, along with the originals. The majority of the duplicates from the Western districts are now held in the Brandenburgisches Landeshauptarchiv, An der Orangerie 3, D-14469 Potsdam, GERMANY. It's necessary to stress, though, that for some districts the civil duplicates are missing completely, or for some larger periods between 1808-1874. The reason for this is unknown but the only explanation is probably the destruction of the entire set of duplicates at some point in history, most probably in WWII or just afterwards, together with the justice court records. The major portion of existing civil duplicate records have been microfilmed by the LDS.


The Lutheran records experienced a greater degree of war loss. This was due to the forced escape of the Germans from the region in Feb. 1945 and the negative attitude of the Poles to any remnants of the German past. Original records from the northern districts (which were collected during the W.W.II) are kept in the Evangelisches Zentralarchiv in Berlin. Another large collection of old parish books exists in the State Archive in Poznan. Records of individual Lutheran communities can be found the following archives: Archdiocesan Archives in Poznan and Gniezno, State Archives in Zielona Góra, Leszno, Gorzów Wielkopolski, and Bydgoszcz. In Germany, some records can be found in Zentralstelle für Genealogie (Schongauer Straße 1, D-04329 Leipzig, GERMANY). As for the Lutheran duplicates, their fate was not much worse than that of the Catholic records and also their present location is similar. Most of the Lutheran records now existent have been microfilmed by the LDS. Among Lutheran records, in some archives there exist duplicates of the Protestant communities other than the State-approved United Evangelical Church (usually refered to as Lutheran). They are often assigned the description 'Old Lutheran'.


The vital records of the military regiments located in the Poznan Province are now held in German archives: Geheimes Staatsarchiv Preußsischer Kulturbesitz, Archivstraße 12-14, D-14195 Berlin, GERMANY (Protestant records) and in Katholisches Militärbischofsamt Bonn (Roman Catholic records).


Jewish records were the most affected by the WWII destruction. Records service for only a small part of the Jewish community active in the Poznan province and are available now in the Polish and German archives. Most of the records are duplicates from the first part of the 19th century. The Jewish duplicates have been microfilmed by the LDS.


Fortunately, the civil records produced in the Standesamt registries survived WWII intact. They are kept in the local civil registries (Urzad Stanu Cywilnego or USC) which are usually located in town halls. Documents older than 100 years must be transferred to their respective State Archives. Documents from several civil registries, in particular from those located in the Western part of the region have also been taken to Germany and they are now located in the central Berlin civil registry (Standesamt I). That collection has been microfilmed by the LDS, unlike the documents which are kept in the Polish archives (of which only a small portion have been filmed) or civil registries (where microfilming has not been legalized). Civil registry records provide an important replacement - especially in case of communities, like Jewish and Lutheran, whose records have been lost - of course only for the time frame starting with 1874.


Beside the most common vital records, there are also other valuable sources where important data can be found. Those are, among others, so called 'lists of souls', i.e. inhabitants registers of many individual villages of the region. They contain the precise documentation of migrations within the province including dates of births and residence changes. There is a similar file for the inhabitants of the city of Poznan. The State Archives in Poznan has a vast collection of sources including: army conscripts lists, police records, school records, etc.


Postal addresses of Polish archives

Addresses of some relevant German archives are provided in another section.


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