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Helpful Books on Polish Genealogy

by Stephen M. Szabados

Books on Polish genealogy are another important element in developing your genealogy research skills. Polish Roots 2nd Edition by Rosemary Chorzempa and Going Home: A Guide to Polish American Family History Research by Jonathan Shea have proven to be reference volumes explaining many of the Polish documents that are available. Sto Lat: A Modern Guide To Polish Genealogy by Cecile Wendt Jensen and my book Polish Genealogy: Four Steps to Success present plans to logically do Polish genealogically research.

The challenges of translating your Polish records can be reduced by using the glossaries found in Jonathan Shea’s book Going Home: A Guide to Polish American Family History Research and the series he wrote with William Hoffman In Their Words – Polish, Latin, and Russian. If you find Polish records in the narrative format, you will find A Translation Guide to 19th Century Polish-Language Civil-Registration Documents by Judith R. Frazin is an excellent user-friendly and practical resource.

Basic Research

Polish Genealogy: Four Steps to Success by Stephen Szabados: Offers a logical process to approach Polish genealogical research. This book is designed to give the researcher the tools needed to research their Polish ancestors and find possible answers to the origins of their Polish heritage. The book also lists many sources of information that will add to their family history; identify where their ancestors were born and where to find their Polish records.

A Modern Guide to Polish Genealogy by Cecile (Ceil) Wendt Jensen: The author offers a plan for researching at least one hundred years of family records, and is a compilation of the author’s techniques. Common research questions are answered and suggestions are offered to help novice and advanced researchers find ancestors in both North America and Poland.

Long-term Reference

Going Home: A Guide to Polish American Family History Research by Jonathan Shea: An indispensable reference book that covers every possible topic on Polish genealogy: history, gazetteers, maps, vocabulary lists, Polish surnames, archives.

Polish Roots 2nd Edition by Rosemary A. Chorzempa: This book examines Polish American resources such as family papers and standard records employed in genealogical research. Also, lists libraries and archives where information can be found.


In Their Words by Jonathan D. Shea and William F. Hoffman: This is a three book series covering the three of the languages used to created Polish records (Polish, Latin, and Russian). The records reviewed are not just birth, marriage and death records but also passports, obituaries, population registers, and military service records. Also includes information on the different alphabets, spelling, pronunciation, and standard handwriting for the three languages.

A Translation Guide to 19th Century Polish-Language Civil-Registration Documents by Judith R. Frazin: The 472-page book includes a step-by-step guide on how to divide each narrative document into a series of “mini-documents”; seven sample documents with important words and the information which follows these words highlighted; and fifteen topical vocabulary lists.

Additional books that I have found useful in my Polish genealogical research and writing my family histories include:

  • The Study of Obituaries as a Source for Polish Genealogical Research by Thomas E Golembiewski
  • Polish Customs, Traditions and Folklore by Sophie Hodorowicz Knab
  • Polish Immigrants and Industrial Chicago: Workers on The South Side, 1880-1922 (1991) by Pacyga, Dominic A
  • Forgotten Doors, The Other Ports of Entry to the United States edited by M. Mark Stolarik
  • Daily Life in Immigrant America 1870-1920 by June Granatir Alexander, Ivan R Dee
  • God’s Playground: A History of Poland by Norman Davies

Also, do not forget books on Polish communities and neighborhoods:

  • Detroit’s Polonia (Mich.) (Images of America) by Cecile Wendt Jensen
  • A History of Polish-Americans in Pittsfield, Mass., 1862-1945 by Florence Waszkelewicz Clowes
  • Chicago’s Polish Downtown (Images of America) by Victoria Granacki
  • Avondale and Chicago’s Polish Village by Jacob Kaplan, Daniel Pogorzelski, Rob Reid, Elisa Addlesperger, Dominic Pacyga.
  • Polish Community of New Britain (Images of America) by Jonathan Shea and Barbara Proko
  • Toledo’s Polonia (Ohio) (Images of America) by Rev. Richard Philiposki and Toledo Polish Genealogical Society

Now sit back, read, and enjoy your Polish heritage.

Stephen M. Szabados is a prominent genealogist, and the author of four books, “Finding Grandma’s European Ancestors,” “Find Your Family History,” “Polish Genealogy,” and “Memories of Dziadka.”

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