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Syllabus for class taught by Sonja Hoeke-Nishimoto, Research Consultant at FamilySearch, for NGS Conference 2010.

This session is designed to help the researcher who is planning an on-site research trip to Poland. Careful advanced planning is needed for a successful and worthwhile trip.

Determine what you want to accomplish

  • Finding and meeting living relatives
  • Visiting towns and locations of family origins and family history
  • Finding actual homes, residences or properties
  • Searching Cemeteries
  • Finding village historians and other historians
  • Visiting archives, parishes, schools, university libraries or other libraries
  • Going to cultural/historical displays or attractions
  • Going to Tourist Attractions

At Home Preparation

  1. Check gazetteers for parish and civil jurisdictions
  2. Locate places on maps
  3. Check the FamilySearch Catalog in for record availability
  4. Check websites for parish and civil registration office addresses and record availability (some records may be stored off-site)
  5. Verify that relatives, parishes or archives are available and open before finalizing flight dates
  6. Determine your method of travel: car, train, bus etc.
  7. Arrange lodging
  8. Determine whether you will need a guide/translator to assist you
  9. Check your health and car insurance plans for foreign coverage
  10. Exchange money
  11. Purchase currency converters (several is best)

Start Planning Early

1. Locating Polish relatives

a. Contact immediate family that might know them or last residences
b. Write to the civil registration office in your village(s)
c. Address envelope to the family name when writing to a small town
d. Check online Phone directory e. Write letter or email to parish priest

2. Visiting towns and locations of family origins and tourist attractions

a. Determine what areas you have time and means to visit
b. Contact priest/or archives for an appointment

In Poland

  1. If possible, arrange for your translator to meet you at the airport or other location
  2. Don’t expect everyone to speak English or German
  3. Allow travel time for construction sites, traffic, and road conditions
  4. Be aware that gas is expensive/some freeways have tolls
  5. Bring an ATM card-very easy to access in Polish cities (n/a in villages)
  6. If possible, verify appointments with priests, and archivists
  7. Take phone card or cell phone (some companies may not have overseas services)
  8. GPS can be very helpful (rental car or yours from home)
  9. Check with local citizens as to whether they know any people of your family name
  10. Be watchful of personal belongings while traveling/store everything in trunk
  11. Give donation/small gifts to parishes and archives as appropriate
  12. Have a wonderful time!

Helpful Websites

Polish Civil Registration office addresses:

Polish Catholic Parish addresses:

Polish filmed records:

Polish Lutheran website :

Polish town name change: