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Bibliography: Polish-Jewish Genealogical Research

by Warren Blatt

Translation Guides
Other Reference Works
Yizkor Books
Locating Ancestral Towns

The following books are useful for Jewish genealogical research in Poland:

  • Jewish Roots in Poland: Pages from the Past and Archival Inventories.  By Miriam Weiner.  In cooperation with the Polish State Archives. (The Miriam Weiner Routes to Roots Foundation and YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, 1997).  446 + xx pages.  ISBN 0-9656508-0-4.  {$50.00 from The Miriam Weiner Routes to Roots Foundation, Inc., 136 Sandpiper Key, Secaucus, NJ 07094; Tel: 201/866-4075; Fax: 201/864-9222.}  See online book review.

  • Finding Your Jewish Roots in Galicia: A Resource Guide.  By Suzan F. Wynne.  (Teaneck, NJ: Avotaynu, Inc., 1998).  240 pages.  A guide to Galician-Jewish genealogical research.  {$39.95 from Avotaynu}.  Out of Print. Revised edition expected 2006. 

  • Korzenie Polskie: Polish Roots.  By Rosemary A. Chorzempa.  (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1993).  240 pages.  Focuses on the Roman Catholic majority, and has some misleading information, but still the best overview book on Polish genealogical research.  {$18 from Genealogical Publishing Co., 1001 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21202; or from Genealogy Unlimited}.

  • Polish Sources at the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People.  Compiled and edited by Hanna Volvici, Witold Medykowski, Hadassah Assouline and Benyamin Lukin.  (Bergenfield, NJ: Avotaynu Foundation, 2004). 300 pages.  Descriptions of the archival material at CAHJP in Jerusalem, by town.  (Based on the 1988 Guide to the Sources for the History of the Jews in Poland in the Central Archives by Adam Teller).  {$26 from Avotaynu}. [More Info].

  • The Encyclopedia of Jewish Genealogy.  Edited by Arthur Kurzweil and Miriam Weiner.  (Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, Inc., 1991).  226 pages.  Pages 202-215 contain a list of Polish-Jewish records microfilmed by the Mormons (as of 1985).  {$40 from Avotaynu, Inc., P.O. Box 900, Teaneck, NJ 07666}.

  • Where Once We Walked: A Guide to the Jewish Communities Destroyed in the Holocaust.  By Gary Mokotoff and Sallyann Amdur Sack, with Alexander Sharon.  Revised Edition.  (Bergenfield, NJ: Avotaynu, 2002).  736 pages.  The best gazetteer of Eastern Europe, with references for each locality, and a phonetic index.  {$85 from Avotaynu, Inc.}  [First Edition was 1991, 514 pages].

  • Euro-Atlas Polska - Atlas Drogowy 1:200,000.  (Warszawa: GeoCenter, 1997).  384 pages.  Very detailed modern road atlas of Poland, with maps and a comprehensive town index.  {$40 from Genealogy Unlimited}.

  • "Polish-Jewish Genealogical Research - A Primer".  By Jeffrey K. Cymbler.  In Avotaynu, IX:2 (Summer 1993), pages 4-12.  Excellent overview.  {Avotaynu subscriptions $29, back issues $10 each, from Avotaynu, Inc., 155 North Washington Ave., Bergenfield, NJ 07621}.

  • "Jewish Genealogical Research in Polish Archives", by Prof. Jerzy Skowronek (former State Archivist of Poland), in Avotaynu X:2 (Summer 1994), pp. 5-8.

  • First Names of the Polish Commonwealth: Origins and Meanings.  By William F. Hoffman and George W. Helon.  (Chicago: Polish Genealogical Society of America, 1998).  426 pages.  ISBN 0-924207-06-X.  Comprehensive discussion of given names used in Poland.

  • Polish Surnames: Origins and Meanings.  By William F. Hoffman.  (Chicago: Polish Genealogical Society, 2012).  Two volumes: 260 + 936 pages.  Third edition.  OCLC #819111273.  [Second edition was 1997, 592 pages].  Excellent discussion of Polish language constructs.  {$50 from PGSA, 984 North Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL 60642-4101}.

  • A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Kingdom of Poland.  By Alexander Beider.  (Teaneck, NJ: Avotaynu, Inc., 1996).  607 pages.  The definitive study of Jewish surnames in Congress Poland (Russian Poland).  {$69.50 from Avotaynu, Inc.} [Table of Contents].

  • A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from Galicia.  By Alexander Beider.  (Bergenfield, NJ: Avotaynu, Inc., 2004).  624 pages.  The definitive study of Jewish surnames in Galicia (Austrian Poland).  {$85 from Avotaynu, Inc.} [Table of Contents].

  • Księgi metrykalne i stanu cywilnego w archiwach państwowych w Polsce. [Metrical and civil registration documents in the State Archives in Poland].  Edited by Anna Laszuk.  (Warsaw: Naczelna Dyrekcja Archiwów Panstwowych [Head Office of the State Archives], 1998, 2000, 2003).  469 pages.  ISBN 83-86643-53-6.  {Inventory, in Polish, of the vital records holdings of all religions, held at the branches of the Polish State Archives}.


  • A Translation Guide to 19th-Century Polish-Language Civil-Registration Documents (Birth, Marriage and Death Records).  By Judith R. Frazin.  3rd ed. (Chicago: JGS of Illinois, 2009).  463 pp.  ISBN 978-0-9613512-2-9.  The guide for translating Polish civil vital records.  {$35 + $6 postage from JGS of Illinois, P.O. Box 515, Northbrook, IL 60062-0515}.

  • Following the Paper Trail: A Multilingual Translation Guide.  By Jonathan D. Shea and William F. Hoffman.  (New Milford, CT: Language and Lineage Press, 1991).  256 pages.  ISBN 0-9631579-0-6.  A guide to documents in 13 languages including Polish, Russian, Czech, Romanian, Hungarian and Lithuanian.  {$29 from Genealogy Unlimited, P.O. Box 537, Orem, UT 84059; or from Avotaynu}.

  • In Their Words: A Genealogist's Translation Guide to Polish, German, Latin, and Russian Documents. Volume I: Polish.  By Jonathan D. Shea and William F. Hoffman.  (New Britain, CT: Language & Lineage Press, 2000).  400 pp.  ISBN 0-9631579-3-0.  Helps translate Polish language documents of all types.  {$35 from Language & Lineage Press, 737 Hartfield Dr., North Aurora, IL 60542-8917.}

  • In Their Words: A Genealogist's Translation Guide to Polish, German, Latin, and Russian Documents. Volume II: Russian.  By Jonathan D. Shea and William F. Hoffman.  (New Britain, CT: Language & Lineage Press, 2002).  496 pp.  ISBN 0-9631579-4-9.  Helps translate Russian language documents of all types.  {$35 from Language & Lineage Press, 737 Hartfield Dr., North Aurora, IL 60542-8917.}

  • Russian Language Documents from Russian Poland: A Translation Manual for Genealogists.  By Jonathan D. Shea.  (Buffalo Grove, IL: GenUn Publishers, 1989).  73 pages.  ISBN 0-921811-05-6.  A guide for translating documents from 1868-1918.  {$12} [Out of print].

  • "Polish Genealogical Word List".  LDS Family History Library.  (Salt Lake City, UT: Family History Department, November 1990).  12 pages.  Translations of 900 Polish words.  {25 cents from Family History Library, 50 East North Temple Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84150;  also available online}.

Additional Selected Reference Works:

  • Abramsky, Chimen, Maciej Jachimczyk and Antony Polansky.  The Jews in Poland.  (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, Ltd., 1986).  264 pages.
  • Cymbler, Jeffrey K.  "Nineteenth and Twentieth-Century Polish Directories as Resources for Genealogical Information", in Avotaynu, XII:1 (Spring 1997), pp. 25-31.
  • Dabrowska, Danuta and Abraham Wein.  Pinkas HaKehillot: Entsiklopedia shel ha-yishuvim le-min hivasdam ve-ad le-aher shoat milhemet ha-olam ha-sheniya [Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities - Poland].  8 volumes.  (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, 1976-1999).  (Vol. I: Lodz region, 1976;  Vol. II: Eastern Galicia, 1980;  Vol. III: Western Galicia and Silesia, 1984;  Vol. IV: Warsaw region, 1989;  Vol. V: Volhynia and Polesie, 1990;  Vol. VI: Poznan, Pomerania and Danzig, 1999;  Vol. VII: Kielce and Lublin, 1999;  Vol. VIII: Vilna, Bialystok, Nowogródek districts, 2005).
  • Dubnow, Simon M.  History of the Jews in Russia and Poland: From the Earliest Times Until the Present Day.  (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1916-1920).  3 volumes.  [Reprinted by Avotaynu, 2000].
  • Eisenbach, Arthur.  The Emancipation of the Jews in Poland, 1780-1870.  (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, Ltd., 1991).  632 pages.
  • The Galitizianer.  Vol. 1- (Gesher Galicia, 1993- ).  {Quarterly}.  Info:
  • Greenbaum, Masha.  The Jews of Lithuania: A History of a Remarkable Community: 1316-1945.  (Jerusalem, Hewlett, NY: Gefen Publishing House, 1995).  405 pages.
  • Gutman, Yisrael and others.  The Jews of Poland Between Two World Wars.  (Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1989).  574 pages.
  • Hasman, R. and D. Pipec.  Yahadut Lita [The Jews of Lithuania].  (Tel Aviv: Association for Mutual Help of Former Residents of Lithuania in Israel, 1967).
  • Heller, Celia S.  On the Edge of Destruction: Jews of Poland between the Two World Wars (2nd ed.).  (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1994).  383 pages.
  • Horowitz, Hirsch.  Le-toldot ha-kehilot be-Polin [The History of the Jewish Communities in Poland].  (Jerusalem: Mossad Harav Kook, 1978).  580 pages.
  • Hundert, Gershon David and Gershon C. Bacon.  The Jews in Poland and Russia: Bibliographical Essays.  (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984).  276 pages.
  • Hundert, Gershon David.  The Jews in a Polish Private Town - The Case of Opatów in the Eighteenth Century.  (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992).  242 pages.
  • Hundert, Gershon David.  "18th-Century Polish Jewry: Demographic and Genealogical Problems", in Avotaynu XV:4 (Winter 1999), pp. 9-14.
  • Kielce-Radom SIG Journal.  (1997-2004).  {Quarterly. 30 issues}.  [All issues now available online in PDF format].
  • Landsmen: Quarterly Publication of the Suwalk-Lomza Interest Group for Jewish Genealogists.  (Washington DC, 1990- ).  {Quarterly}.  Info:
  • Lerski, Jerzy J. and Halina T. Lerski.  Jewish-Polish Coexistence, 1772-1939: A Topical Bibliography.  (New York: Greenwood Press, 1986).  230 pages.
  • Lewin, Isaac.  The Jewish Community of Poland.  (New York: Philosophical Library, Inc., 1985).  247 pages.
  • Luft, Edward D.  "Jewish Genealogical Research in Poland", in Avotaynu V:2 (Summer 1989), pp. 8-10.
  • Luft, Edward D.  "More on Polish-Jewish Genealogical Research", in Avotaynu X:1 (Spring 1994), pp. 12-13.
  • Muszynska, Katarzyna.  Bibliographies of Polish Judaica.  (Kraków: Research Center of Jewish History and Culture in Poland, 1993).  231 pages.
  • Pilarczyk, Krsysztof.  Przewodnik Po Bibliografiach Polskich Judaikow [Guide to Bibliographies of Polish Judaica].  (Kraków: Research Center of Jewish History and Culture in Poland, 1992).  222 pages.
  • Pogonowski, Iwo Cyprian.  Jews in Poland: A Documentary History.  (New York: Hippocrene Books, Inc., 1993).  402 pages.
  • Polonsky, Anthony and Jakub Basista and Andrzej Link-Lenczowski.  The Jews in Old Poland, 1000-1795.  (London: I.B. Tauris & Co.; Oxford: Institute for Polish-Jewish Studies, 1993).  361 pages.
  • Schepansky, Israel.  Luach ha-Shoah shel Yehudot Polin [Holocaust Calendar of Polish Jewry].  (New York, 1974).  88 pages.  {List of Polish towns and their fate in the Holocaust.  In Hebrew.}
  • Schoenburg, Nancy and Stuart Schoenburg.  Lithuanian Jewish Communities.  (New York: Garland Publishing Inc., 1991).  {A translation of Volume III of Yahadut Lita}.  502 pages.
  • Schoenfeld, Joachim.  Jewish Life in Galicia Under the Austro-Hungarian Empire and in the Reborn Poland 1898-1939.  (Hoboken: Ktav Publishing House, Inc., 1985).  253 pages.
  • Schwartz, Rosaline and Susan Milamed.  From Alexandrovsk to Zyrardow: A Guide to YIVO's Landsmanshaftn Archive.  (New York: YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, 1986).  96 pages.
  • Volovici, Hanna.  "Polish Sources at the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People", in Avotaynu, Vol. X, No. 2 (Summer 1994), pp. 21-22.
  • Wasiutyński, Bohdan.  Ludność Żydowska w Polsce w wiekach XIX i XX: stadjum statystyczne. [Jewish population in Poland in the 19th and 20th centuries].  (Warszawa: Wydawn. Kasy im. Mianowskiego, 1930).  224 pp.
  • Weiner, Miriam.  Jewish Roots in Ukraine and Moldova: Pages from the Past and Archival Inventories.  (The Miriam Weiner Routes to Roots Foundation and YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, 1999).  600 pages.
  • Weinryb, Bernard D.  The Jews of Poland: A Social and Economic History of the Jewish Community in Poland from 1100 to 1800.  (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1973, 1982).  424 pages.
  • Wisniewski, Tomasz.  Jewish Bialystok and Surroundings in Eastern Poland: A Guide for Yesterday and Today.  (Ipswich, MA: Ipswich Press, 1998).  160 pages.
  • Źródła Archiwalne do Dziejów Żydów w Polsce.  (Warszawa: Naczelna Dyrekcja Archiwów Państwowych, 2001).  600 pages.

Yizkor Books:

  • "Bibliography of Eastern European Memorial (Yizkor) Books", Appendix B of Genealogical Resources in the New York.  Revised and Edited by Estelle M. Guzik.  (New York: Jewish Genealogical Society, 2003).  Pages 302-361.  With call numbers for five Judaica libraries in New York.
    Previous versions of this bibliography appeared as:
    • Baker, Zachary M.  "Bibliography of Eastern European Memorial (Yizkor) Books (August 1993)", in Kurzweil, Arthur, From Generation to Generation.  (New York: HarperCollins, 1994), pp. 136-200.
    • Baker, Zachary M.  "Bibliography of Eastern European Memorial (Yizkor) Books".  Edited by Steven W. Siegel.  (New York: Jewish Genealogical Society, Inc., July 1992).  51 pages.
    • "Bibliography of Eastern European Memorial (Yizkor) Books", Appendix A of Genealogical Resources in the New York Metropolitan Area.  Edited by Estelle M. Guzik.  (New York: Jewish Genealogical Society, 1989).
  • Glicksman, William M.  Jewish Social Welfare Institutions in Poland: as Described in Memorial (Yizkor) Books (Studies in Jewish Communal Activity).  (Philadelphia: M.E. Kalish Folkshul, 1976).  177 pages.
  • Kugelmass, Jack and Jonathan Boyarin.  From A Ruined Garden: The Memorial Books of Polish Jewry.  (New York: Schocken Books, 1983).  Second expanded Edition 1998.  353 pages.  {A selection of translated excerpts from various Yizkor Books.  Bibliography on pages 273-339.}
  • JewishGen Yizkor Book Project.

Locating the Ancestral Shtetl:

  • _______, Gemeindelexikon der Reichsrate vertretenen Königreiche und Länder [Gazetteer of the Crown Lands and Territories Represented in the Imperial Council].  (Vienna, 1907).  {Covers former Austrian territory}.
  • _______, Spis Miejscowości Polskiej Rzeczypospolitej Ludowej [Place Names in the Polish Peoples' Republic].  (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Komunicacji i Lączności, 1967).
  • _______, Wykas Urzędowych Nazw Miejscowości w Polsce [A List of Official Geographic Place Names in Poland].  (Warszawa: Wydawnictwa Akcydensowe, 1980).
  • Barthel, Stephen S. and Daniel Schlyter.  "Using Prussian Gazetteers to Locate Jewish Religious and Civil Records in Poznan", in Avotaynu, Vol. VI, No. 2 (Summer 1990), pp. 12-13.
  • Chajes, Saul.  "Namen fun Galitzische erter in Idisch. Mekorim un einim falks-lushin [Place Names of Galicia in Jewish Sources and in Modern Yiddish]", in YIVO Bleter, Vol. 7, No. 3 (1934), pp. 229-49, 286.
  • Helpern, Israel.  "Sheimot Geiografiim shel Polin [Polish Geographical Names in Hebrew Sources]", in Leshonenu, 4 (1932), pp. 233-40.
  • Lenius, Brian J.  Genealogical Gazetteer of Galicia.  3rd edition.  (Anola, Canada, 1999).  345 pages.
  • Mahler, Raphael.  "Jewish Place-Names in Old Poland" (Hebrew), in Reshumot, 5 (1953), pp. 146-61.
  • Słownik Geograficzny Królestwa Polskiego i innych Krajów Słowiańskich [Geographical Dictionary of the Kingdom of Poland and other Slavic Countries].  Edited by Filip Sulimierski, Bronisław Chlebowski and Władysław Walewski.  (Warsaw: Wiek, 1880-1902).  16 volumes.
  • Stankiewicz, Edward.  "Yiddish Place Names in Poland" in Weinreich, Uriel, Field of Yiddish: Studies in Language, Folklore and Literature.  Second collection, pp. 158-81.  (The Hague: Mouton, 1965).
  • Uetrecht, E.  Meyers Orts- und VerkehrsLexikon des Deutschen Reichs: auf Grund amtlicher Unterlagen von Reichs-, Landes- und Gemeindebehörden [Meyer's Gazetteer and Directory of the German Empire].  (Leipzig: Bibliographisches Institut, 1912-13).
  • U.S. Board on Geographic Names — JewishGen Gazetteer.
  • 1929 Polish Business Directory - Town Index.

Vital Records in Poland Polish-Jewish Genealogy — Q & A
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Compiled by Warren Blatt, July 1998.
Last update Apr 2013.
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