Polish Civil Registration Reading Aid

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The following reading aids are designed to help you read a typical birth, marriage, or death entry in Polish civil registration. Since the wording of these records was standardized, it is possible to learn the format, and with careful effort, to read Polish records. Use these aids for records 1808-1868 and 1918 to the present.
When using the reading aids, please note the following:

  • Be flexible. Terms and spellings may vary. Information may not always be presented in the exact order shown in the examples. For example, the year may be given before the day of the month or the age may follow the occupation, etc. You must thoroughly familiarize yourself with the format, not just the words.
  • It is not uncommon to find double dates given in the entries. When this occurs, the first is the Julian date according to the old Julian calendar. The second is the Gregorian date according to the modern Gregorian calendar used in the world today.

Napoleonic Birth Records in Polish[edit | edit source]

Birth records contain data on:

  • the parents' age
  • profession
  • social standing
  • full place of residence
  • full date of birth and registration (down to the hour)

A. Place and date of registration of birth. (Place is given with grammatical ending and the date and time of day are written out in Polish.) Use the Polish Genealogical Word List to read the date. Following are translations of the Polish entries:

Dzialo się          w wsi              Oporowie      dnia trzeciego
It came to pass in village (of) Oporów (on) day third         (of)

lutego     tyziąc      ośmset             pięćdziesiątego drugiego roku
February thousand eight-hundred fiftieth –            second    year (1852),

o godzinie dziewiątego z rana. . . .
at hour       ninth            in the morning. . . .

(Prior to the mid-1810s records will start with Roku. This earlier format gives year first, date, time of day, and then the title and often the name of the registrar.)

       Roku tysiąc      osemsetnego   czternastego             dnia trzeciego
(of) Year thousand eight-hundred fourteen (1814) (on) day third         (of)

  • lutego      o godzinie dziewiątego z rana               przed Nami Augustynem
    February at hour       ninth            in the morning before us     Augustyn

Walęckiem proboszcz       parafii       Oporowskiej sprawuającym obowiązki
Walęcki      priest      (of) parish (of) Oporów         discharging      duties    (of)

urzędnika stanu cywilnego       gminy             Oporowskiej powiatu
civil registrar                      (of) township (of) Oporów district        (of)

Orlowskiej w Departmencie        Warszawskim.
Orlów         in Department    (of) Warsaw

B. The father of the child presents himself (or the midwife if the child is illegitimate) to report the birth.

Stawil       się        Marcin Gorecki okupnik rolnik,  lat      cztyrdziesciści
Presented himself Marcin Gorecki tenant    farmer, years forty

mający / liczący    w Czyzeminie zamieszkaly.
having / counting  in Czyzemiń   residing.

C. Two witnesses are named with genitive grammatical inflection. Their occupations, ages, and residences are given. (This is sometimes omitted in earlier records.)

w obecności       Macieja Nowaka lat     trzydzieści pięć mający i
in presence  (of) Maciej   Nowak  years thirty-        five having and (of)

Jana Grabowskiego lat     pięćdziesiąt liczący,   obydwóch rolników w
Jan    Grabowski      years fifty             counting, both         farmers    in

Czyzeminie zamieszkałych.
Czyzemiń   residing.

D. The child is presented and the sex is indicated.

i      okazał   Nam dziecię,       płci męskiej /źeńskiej. . . .
and showed us     child,   (of) sex  male     /  female. . . .

E. Place of birth is given with date and time of day. Use the Polish Genealogical Word List to read the date.

urodzone w  Czyzemienie w domu   pod     numerem trzynastym, . . . .
born         in Czyzemiń     in house (under) number    thirteen, . . . .

na dniu dzisiejszym / wczorajszym / onegdajszym              /
on day   today          / yesterday       / day before yesterday /

trzydziestym      grudnia    /  miesiąca bieźącego. . . .
thirtieth      (of) December /  month    current. . . .

       roku bieźącego/ przeszłego o godzinie szóstej wieczorem.
(of) year  current    / preceding  at hour       sixth    in the evening.

F. The mother of the child is given in genitive grammatical inflection with her age. The record will state if she is the wife of the one presenting himself. If not, the record will state whether she is unmarried. When the mother is married but the father is merely not present, then his name is usually given between the birth date and the name of the mother.

(Urodzone) z   jego małźonki Maryanny z Grabowskich /  Nowaków
(Born)         of his    wife        Maryanna    Grabowska    / Nowak

lat     trzydzieści trzy   mającej.
years thirty-        three having.

(Earlier records, prior to the mid-1820s will usually read differently.)

cświadczając, iź          jest spłodzone z   niego i            Maryanny
testifying        that (it) is    begotten   of him    and (of) Maryanna

z / z domu        Mazurków lat     trzydzieści trzy   mającej jego małźonki.
(maiden name) Mazurek    years thirty-        three having, his    wife.

G. Some records will indicate that on this day the christening was performed.

       Dziecieciu temu na Chrzcie       Świętym w  dniu dzisiejszym odbytym.
(for) child          this        Christening Holy      on day  today          performed.

H. The child is given a name.

nadane jest Imię  Jan Marcin / zyczeniem jego jest nadać mu Imię Ewa
given    is    name Jan Marcin / desire        his   is   give    it    name Ewa

I. The Godparents are named.

jego Rodzicami Chrzestnymi byli   Alojzy Kowalski   i     Elźbieta Adamska.
his   Godparents                 were Alojzy Kowalski and Elźbieta Adamska.

J. The entry was read and signed by the witnesses or by the priest/rabbi if the witnesses could not write.

Akt     ten                     stawającemu i     świadkom przeczytany został,
Entry this (to the one) present        and witnesses  read         was,

Ojciec   i      świadkowie       pisać nie  umieją.
Father and witnesses (to) write  not know how.

Napoleonic Marriage Records in Polish[edit | edit source]

Marriage entries are the most informative. Marrying was subject to specific conditions.

  • A male below the age of 18 or a female below the age of 15 could not contract marriage. (The emperor could give dispensations in exceptional, important situations).
  • A son under 25 and a daughter under 21 had to have their parents' consent; in case of parental disagreement, the father's consent sufficed.
  • If the parents were no longer alive or could not be present, then consent was given by grandfathers or, if applicable, brothers or uncles.
  • It was impossible to marry a second time without dissolution of the first marriage.
  • The wedding had to take place publicly before the civil registrar in the place of residence of one of the newlyweds.

The Code also set forth the obligations proceeding from marriage:

  • Newlyweds were obligated to, among other things, live together and support themselves together and to raise children jointly.
  • The husband was to protect his wife, his wife was to obey her husband, the wife could not appear in court without her husband's consent (criminal cases were exceptions) except with support of the court.
  • The wife could not enter into a second marriage until after 10 months had passed since the previous marriage was dissolved.
  • Children did not have the right to demand any estate from their parents, and in accases of parental poverty, were obligated give them support.

The majority of records from the period of the Napoleonic Code gave exact birth dates for the couple according to entries from the registers of their home parishes.

A. Place and date of registration of marriage. (Place is given with grammatical ending and the date and time of day are written out in Polish.) Use the Polish Word List to read the date.

Dzialo się            w mieście Olbierzowicach         dnia dwódzięstego
It came to pass in place    Olbierzowice    (on) day  twentieth-

siódmego     listopadu    roku  tysiąc        osiemset         sześcdziesiątego
seventh (of) November year  thousand eight-hundred sixtieth-

czwartego,      o  godzinie dziewiątej        rano. . . .
fourth (1864) at hour      ninth        (in) morning. . . .

(Prior to the mid-1820s, records will start with Roku. This earlier format gives year first, date, time of day, and then the title and often name of the registrar. See birth format for an example.)

B. In most records after the mid-1820s two witnesses are named, usually with genitive grammatical inflection. Their occupations, ages, and residences are given. (Caution: In some cases the groom and bride present themselves at this point in the entry. In such cases the witnesses will be noted in the Summation.)

Wiadomo            czyniemy źe    w przytomności       świadków  Tomasza
Knowingly (we) affirm       that in presence     (of) witnesses  Tomasz

Kolczaka mularz       lat     trzydzieści i      Piotra Studzińskiego
Kolczak   bricklayer years thirty        and Piotr  Studzińki

szewca       lat       trzydzieści sześć mających, obydwóch w Olbierzowicach
shoemaker years thirty-        six     having,     both        in Olbierzowice

zamięskałych. . . .
residing. . . .


Stawiłi się. . .(Names of witnesses as above, without grammatical endings.)
They appeared. . .

C. In most records prior to the mid-1820s and sometimes later, the groom and bride will present themselves. Information will be given as in D below, usually without the instrumental grammatical inflection. If the couple appear together with a witness or official, then the instrument inflection may be required because of the preposition z".

           Stawiłi      się              Ludwik Jan Kowalski,  lat. . . . etc., a
(They) presented themselves Ludwik Jan Kowalski, age. . . .etc., and

Panna   Tekla Tokarska,  lat. . . . etc.
Maiden Tekla Tokarska, age. . . . etc.

        Stawil        się       Rabin Hersz Sztajn wraz        z      Starozakonami
(He) presented himself Rabbi Hersz Sztajn together with Jews

Szmulem Litmanem, lat. . . . ,   a     Panna Ruchlą Dawidowiczowną,  lat. . . .
Szmul      Litman,      age. . . . , and maiden Ruchla Dawidowiczowna, age. . . .

D. Statement of marriage. If marriage took place on a day different than the day of registration, it will be stated here.

Na dniu dzisiejszym / wczorajszym zawarte          zostało Religijne
On day   today       / yesterday     accomplished was     Religious

Małźenstwo między. . . .
Marriage      between. . . .

E. Names of bridegroom and bride are given. Because the preposition międzyrequires instrumental grammatical inflection, their names and all words describing them will have grammatical endings. For the groom, everything will end with –m. For the bride, everything will end with –ą.Information given will vary. Age, previous marital status and residence are almost always given. Very often the entry will also give place of birth. (In early records prior to the mid-1820s this is often accompanied by a statement that the age and birthplace are confirmed by an extract from the parish register of the birthplace.) Most records give the names and residence of parents of the bride and groom. Other information that may be given would be exact birth date, names of previous marriage partners, etc. The order in which information is given can vary, but the groom is always first with information pertaining to him, followed by the bride and all information pertaining to her.

między   Ludwikiem Janem Orlikiem / Kowalskim młodzianem / kawalerem /
between Ludwik      Jan      Orlik       / Kowalski    bachelor      / bachelor    /

wdowcem kowalem / profeszyi   kowalskiej w Kaczkowiznie zamieszkałym. . .
widower   smith      / profession smith         in Kaczkowizna residing. . .

urodzonym w Gostynie z  / synem      niegdyś / zmarłego Tomasza i
born            in Gostyn of /  son    (of) the late / deceased Tomasz   and (of)

Justyny z Pinkowskich    małźonków                             Orlików podług
Justyna    Pinkowska     a married couple (named) the Orliks    according to

złoźonej     przed  Nami metryko    wyjęty      z      Ksiąg        kościoła
submitted before us    certificate extracted from book  (of) church at

Gostyńskiego lat. . . . etc.  a      Panna   Tekla Tokarska  / wdowa po Józefie
Gostyn          age . . . etc. and maiden Tekla Tokarska / widow of  Józef

Gadzińskim zmarłym           dnia. .  / przy matce   zostającą, Córka. . .
Gadziński   deceased (on) day. . ./ with mother staying,    Daughter (of). . .

(Information is given for the bride similar to that given for the groom.)

F. As marriages must be preceded by three banns (announcements in the church) the dates of the banns are given, written out in Polish. Some records also state who gave permission for the marriage.

Małźenstwo to    poprzedzily         trzy   zapowiedzie         w  dniach
Marriage     this preceded   (by) three announcements on days

dziesiątym, siedmnastym, i      dwódziestym czwartym       listopadu  roku
tenth,         seventeenth, and twenty-         fourth     (of) November year

bieźącego w parafia. Zezwolenie         małźenstwa       Ojca
current     in parish. Permission (for) marriage   (by) father (of)

nowozaślubionego  i     rodziców      nowozaślubionej.
groom (newlywed) and parents  (of) bride (newlywed).

G. Summation: This includes a statement that there were no objections to the marriage. Sometimes it includes a renaming of the witnesses with an occasional mention of relationship to the bride or groom. Finally, it concludes with a statement, as in birth and death records, that the entry was read to witnesses and that they signed or did not sign, depending on their ability to write.

Napoleonic Death Records in Polish[edit | edit source]

Death records contain description of the family relationships of the witnesses appearing, exact time and place of death, place of birth and parent's names. If the deceased was married, then the names of his or her spouse and of all living children were given. The cause of death was usually omitted if the person died of natural causes; it was given if the person died as a result of an accident, e.g., drowning, a fall, or fire. Information given in the death record depended on the knowledge of the witnesses who came to report the death.

A. Place and date of registration of death. (Place is given with grammatical ending and the date and time of day are written out in Polish.) Use the Polish Genealogical Word List to read the date.

Działo się            w parafii Źychlińskiej w roku tysiąc        osemset
It came to pass in parish Źychlin        in year thousand eight-hundred

czterdziestiego      dnia trzeciego     marca  o  godzinie. . . . etc.
forty (1840)  (on) day  third    (of) March at hour. . . . etc.

►(Prior to the mid-1820s records will start with Roku. This earlier format gives year first, date, time of day, and then the title and often name of the registrar. See birth format for an example.)

B. Two witnesses present themselves to report the death. Their occupations, ages, and residences are given.

           Stawiłi        się              Marcin Cieślak,  parobek    lat. . . .    i
(They) presented themselves Marcin Cieślak, farmhand age. . . . and

Mateusz Czerwiński,   formal                     lat. . . .
Mateusz Czerwiński, farm-wagon driver age. . . .

C. The witnesses testify concerning the death, including the place (given with grammatical ending) and the date and time of day when the death occurred. Use the Polish Genealogical Word List to read the date.

i                oświadczyłi iz             dnia pierwszego      marca / wczorajszego
and (they) testified    that (on) day  first          (of) March / yesterday

       roku bieźącego, o  godzinie  ósmej w wieczor,   w wśi      Dębicach. . . .
(of) year  current,   at hour       eight  in evening, in village Dębice. . . .

D. Name of deceased is given with varying amounts of information. Age and occupation are almost always given. Other information often given would be parents, birthplace, survivors, etc.

        Umarł /          Umarła Józef Cieślak  lat . . . .      licząc[y/a], syn /
(He) died    / (she) died    Józef Cieślak years . . . . counting,   son /

córka              niegdyś     / wspomianego  Marcina i     Wiktoriyi z
daughter (of) deceased / forementioned Marcin and Wiktorya

Czerwińskich   małonków                               Cieślaków; urodzony w
Czerwińska   a married couple (named) the Cieślaks;   born        in

Prusach / w  tej  wśi             roku . . . . gdziei  i      z   kogo urodzony
Prussia  / in this village (in) year. . . .  when and of whom born

niewiadomo.      Zostawił / zostawiwszy po    sobie    owdowiałą źonę
unknown.  (He) has left / leaving        after himself widowed  wife

Agatę / owdowiałego meźa      Mikołajo / etc.
Agata / widowed     husband Mikołaj  / etc.