The history books tell us (Americans) that there was substantial turmoil in small eastern Russian-Polish villages from the turmoil of the early 1900's, thru World War I, and then re-visited during both the German occupation and Russian "liberation" of Poland circa World War II. How extensive was this on a small village local level?
In essence, my ancestors departed the Bilgoraj/Ksiezpol area during 1905-1912, but undoubtedly some remained. Is there any hope of finding long-lost relations or performing a genealogy search in that area after all the turmoil the area was put thru? Is there hope of going further back, or were most records destroyed for periods prior to the 1900-1860s?
The Soviets destroyed many archives in the eastern (Kresy) area of Poland after the great deportation of Poles to Siberia in 1939-1940. But some do remain in churches or public agencies. The best way to find out is to go there and to search. Another good source is the Kresy-Siberian Group at
They have some archival lists of Poles who were deported and then ultimately rescued by General Anders. Anders made the lists of the Poles who were passengers escaping the Soviet Union and bound for Iran. Not everyone is listed and sometimes the names may have been spelled incorrectly but it's a beginning and worth looking.
Keep in mind that those Poles who got out were dispersed world wide. They may be in Canada, Australia, Iran, India, Mexico, the UK, USA or Africa. Some are still to this day stranded in Kazakstan. You can post your inquiry on the yahoo group and see if you get a response. The site has had quite a good outcome for many who were separated from their families as a result of that tragic occurance.
Good luck, Judka
Well, my basic issue is I've already traced ancestors back to eastern Poland to 1905 when they emmigrated to America, but they were born in the 1860's in Poland. I'm concerned that if most of the records were destroyed, that I won't be able to go further back into Polish-side family history tracing my ancestors, and might have reached a dead-end. If all/most of the records were destroyed over the next 50 years of turmoil after I left, then how can I got further back in time in Poland? I'm not actually concerned about who go deported or got out, because my ancestors left before all of that. I'm interested in the 1860's and before....
In most cases, records were saved. In terms of ecclesiastical records (baptisms, which often also include the day of birth and almost always include the names and places of residence of the parents, grandparents, and godparents; marriages; and funeral rites, including day of death), if the parish book survived, it is often still with the parish or else is preserved with the diocesan records. If your ancestor was Roman Catholic, Greek Catholic, or Russian Orthodox, you will want to research which parish or parishes he or she may have attended. Often, if your family is of Polish, Ruthenian, Ukrainian, Belarusan, or Lithuanian origin (and these more frequently intermarried than is widely admitted today since they all used to coexist as one nation in the old Rzeczpospolita -- Commonwealth), you may need to research several different parishes in the same few villages. If you run across landed families (either szlachta or the lesser gentry), you will have a much easier time finding records for that line.
As for the civil records (and some metrical books), look to the Polish State Archives. What has been preserved is usually kept at the main archives or the nearest branch archives. Their website is here: archiwa.gov.pl and there is an English version (click the link in the top-right of the homepage). In some cases, because of the various border changes during that era, you may actually have to conduct your research through the Ukrainian archives in Lwow (L'viv in Ukrainian).
Generally speaking, when the records have not been destroyed (again, most of them have survived), most people with Polish, Ukrainian, Ruthenian, etc., origins can trace their ancestry to at least the late 1700s, sometimes a bit earlier. If you find you are descended from a family of szlachta, which is not impossible, you may be able to trace that line to the 1500s or 1400s.