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Galician Record Images are Online
By Mark Jacobson, BA History, MS Education
Jacobson and Jacobson Genealogy Researchers
For more than ten years JRI-Poland http://jri-poland.org has been indexing records for towns
formerly in eastern (Austrian) Galicia, now Ukraine. The original records are held in the AGAD
Archive in Warsaw, Poland. JRI-Poland has online searchable indexes of births, marriages and
deaths for more than 90 Galician towns. Anyone with a free JewishGen registration can search
JRI-Poland and see the results. If you have searched these records before you should search
them again. All the search results for records up to 1905 (from the AGAD Archive) now include
"view image" clickable links on the left that take you to the image of the actual record! You can
instantly see the records and learn new information about your family, particularly if you find
birth records beginning in 1877.
The images were created by the AGAD Archive and placed on the Archive's website and
JRI-Poland links to their images. Viewing and saving images is free. If you had family from
towns in eastern Galicia you should search JRI-Poland and look at the images of the actual
records for your family. The links are not always direct - usually you will be within a few pages
of the record you want. First check the JRI-Poland index information for the record you want
since it tells you the record number you are looking for. Then check the number of the record
in the image after you click. On the image page scroll the right scroll bar in your browser to get
to the bottom of the image where you will see left and right arrows. Click left or right
(depending on whether you are before or after the record you want) and eventually you will
find your record. Then you can view it and save it to your computer. You can print them but
the images are across two large ledger pages so they will print small unless you crop them first.
The JRI-Poland index results already give you a lot of information. For a birth they will usually
tell you the name, year, towns named in the record and the parents' names. For a death they
will also usually tell you the name, year, towns named and parents' names as well as the age
of the person and the husband's name if the record is for a woman. For a marriage they will
usually tell you the names of bride and groom, year, towns, ages and parents' names. Of
course there will be less information if the original record has less information. Clicking and
viewing the actual record will tell you much more that the index. The only caveat is that the
original records are handwritten (on printed columnar forms) in either German or Polish, but
you won't have to do much translation to find most of the information you want. The actual
images of all the records will provide the exact date of the event with month and date, house
number of the event and verify that the information you found in the JRI-Poland index is
correct (or incorrect), something you should always do in genealogy research.
Birth records created after 1876 are the greatest source of family information not included in
the JRI-Poland index. The birth records will have exact date of birth and bris (for boys) or
naming ceremony (for girls). They will include a house number, something that can be helpful
to suggest family connections. The record of birth will list the names of at least one witness
and the midwife, sometimes with an actual signature. Some towns used 'professional'
witnesses but often the witness is a relative and this can be a good clue for further research. I
was able to find the signature of my great-great-great grandfather when he signed as witness
to his grandson's birth in the 1880s. Birth records will often say if the parents have had a civil
marriage and provide information on the date and place of the marriage, usually including a
signature of the father. Sometimes these notations were made many years later. If the child
died the death date will often be listed on the birth record. Often they would go back to the
birth record and note the death of someone 40, 50 or more years later. I have seen these
notations dated as late as 1942. These notations are the only way to verify the death of
someone in the 1920s or 1930s since access to those records is restricted by the Polish State
Archive's 100 year privacy rule.
The most important information on a post 1876 Galician birth record is something that is not
indexed by JRI-Poland; the names of the maternal grandparents, the parents of the child's
mother (but unfortunately not the parents of the child's father). This will often include the
grandmother's maiden name, whether the couple is living, the grandfather's occupation and
their town. This is a great way to connect family lines. I knew my grandfather's grandmother's
name and her parents' names from records previously indexed and examined including her
death record. What I did not know before was that she had sisters. I only discovered these
sisters by checking the birth records of their children where the grandparents' names were
listed. I found similar information for many branches of my grandfather's family in Drohobycz
and I have expanded my family tree beyond what I thought possible. All of this takes time, a lot
of clicking and often some amateur handwriting analysis to decipher the information on the
record but it is well worth the effort.
This article previously appeared in Scattered Seeds Fall 2013, Volume 20, Number 4, pages
12-14; published by the Jewish Genealogical Society of Palm Beach County Inc. It also
appeared in The Galitzianer December 2013, Volume 20, Number 4, pages 22-23; published
by Gesher Galicia, Inc.