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Introduction to Polish Genealogy: NYPL Resources

Strategies and resources to research your Polish family history.

Searching the Catalog

Look for books, microfilm, periodicals, archive collections, and more at NYPL Classic Catalog using a subject or keyword search. The following subject searches may be a good place to start:

Or, try keyword searches like "Polish surnames," "Polish American history," or "Poland gazetteer," for example.

Many materials from the catalog can be requested via our expanded Scan and Deliver services. Eligible items will have a Request button in the Library's Shared Collection Catalog

Guidebooks in the Catalog

NYPL Divisions

The research libraries at NYPL offer vast collections of material relevant to your genealogy research. You may also want to explore the holdings of the following divisions:

Slavic and Eastern European Collections extend from early 14th century illuminated manuscripts to the latest imprints. Materials in the vernacular Slavic and East European languages number well in excess of 500,000 bound volumes, and 24,000 microform titles. Upwards of 300,000 volumes of works about these lands and peoples in other world languages and formats are held by NYPL. Relevant materials in Hebrew and Yiddish, as well as the Turkic and other languages of the former Soviet Union, and in other formats (e.g., maps, prints, manuscripts), are also held by the Library. In addition, the World Languages Collection at the Mid-Manhattan Library holds circulating volumes of general and popular fiction and non-fiction books, periodicals, and videos in various Slavic and Baltic languages, as do a selection of the neighborhood branch libraries.

The Dorot Jewish Division administers, develops and promotes one of the world’s great collections of Hebraica and Judaica. The collection contains a comprehensive and balanced chronicle of the religious and secular history of the Jewish people in over a quarter of a million books, microforms, manuscripts, newspapers, periodicals, and ephemera from all over the world. Reference and research services are available in a dedicated Jewish studies reading room on the first floor of the Library’s landmark Stephen A. Schwarzman Building.

Primary source materials are especially rich in the following areas: Jews in the United States, especially in New York in the age of immigration; Yiddish theater; Jews in the land of Israel; Jews in early modern Europe, especially Jewish-Gentile relations; Christian Hebraism; antisemitism; and world Jewish newspapers and periodicals of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

The Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division  is one of the world’s premier map collections in terms of size, scope, unique holdings, diversity and intensity of use. Established in 1898, our holdings include more than 433,000 sheet maps and 20,000 books and atlases published between the 16th and 21st centuries. The collections range from the global to the local scale and support the learning and research needs of a wide variety of users.

Genealogy Databases

Ancestry Library Edition, Access billions of names in thousands of genealogical databases including Census and Vital Records, birth, marriage and death notices, the Social Security Death Index, Passenger lists and naturalizations, Military and Holocaust Records, City Directories, New York Emigrant Savings Bank records, and African American and Native American Records. Library version of Ancestry.com.

Family Search, Operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), this free website offers a variety of genealogical databases, access to unindexed images of genealogical records, the Social Security Death Index, wiki entries describing various types of genealogical research, and access to the Family History Library's catalog. Free access to the 1940 United States Federal Census.

Genealogy Indexer, Search historical business, address and telephone directories from Central and Eastern Europe, memorials to Jewish communities destroyed during the Holocaust, Polish and Russian military documents, including lists of officers and casualities. Also includes community and personal histories, and Polish secondary school annual reports and other school sources. More genealogical resources are being added daily.

HeritageQuest, This genealogical database allows researchers to search U.S. Federal Census records, digitized family and local history books, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files and the Freedman's Bank Records (1865-1874), maps, and a wealth of other historical collections and research guides.

Find My Past, Find My Past includes genealogicial records from the United States, along with England, Ireland, New Zealand, and other smaller record sets from around the globe. Researchers can also access the PERiodical Source Index (PERSI) via this database.  PERSI provides access to millions of entries from historical and genealogical publications. Keep in mind that the 1939 registers and the newspaper packages on FMP are not included in library subscriptions. For access to newspapers, please browse NYPL's collection of historical titles.

Fold3, Historical primary documents featuring U.S. city directories, naturalization records, and Revolutionary War Pensions. Collections include: History and Genealogy Archives, African American Archives, Native American Archives, Revolutionary War Archives, US Bureau of Investigation Case File Archives, and World War II Archives. Formerly known as Footnote.com.