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* Polish

The first Polish state disappeared at the hands of Austria, Prussia, and Russia in the late eighteenth century, re-emerging after the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. As a result, the vast majority of Polish-speaking people who immigrated to the United States in the late 1800s and around the turn of the century were actually residents of one of these three countries (with Prussia becoming part of Germany after German unification in 1871).

The first immigrants, the German Poles, came to the United States in search of better economic conditions, and were shortly followed by the Austrian and then the Russian Poles. They settled throughout the American Northeast and Midwest, with the highest populations concentrated in Chicago, New York, and Pittsburgh.

When searching for Polish records overseas, make sure to check in the archives of the country which was occupying Poland at the time. In addition, be aware that many Polish towns changed names due to the different occupations.

Contacts and Sources

The Polish Genealogical Society
984 Milwaukee Avenue
Chicago, IL 60622
Telephone: (773) 384-3352
Publication: PGS Newsletter, PGS Bulletin

The Polish Historical Society
4291 Stanton Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15201
Telephone: (412) 782-2166
Publication: Polish Day

Web Sites

In Helpful Web Sites, you can find links to useful resources about Poland.


  • Polish Roots / Korzenie Polskie, by Rosemary A. Chorzempa
  • Polish Genealogy and Heraldry, by Janina W. Hoskins
  • "Polish-American Genealogical Research." Michigan Family Trails vol. 4, no. 1 (Summer 1972). Published by the Michigan Department of Education, State Library Services: 735 East Michigan Avenue, Lansing, MI 48913
  • "Some Sources for Polish Genealogy." The Genealogist's Magazine, December 1969
  • "Polish Immigration to the United States." Authorized Notes from the Lectures of Professor Waclaw W. Soroka. Stevens Point: University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, 1977

For some tips on researching abroad, see the topic All about international resources.

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