Interpretation of 7 pgs.from Suwalki search on 10/2/05


Q:  What do the column headings mean ?




















Date/Year of Birth



The Year the event (B, M, D, V) was registered



The Act or Registration Number of the event



The Town reference in the search results oftem indicates the
town or village where the event actually took place. The name
frequently appears in the margin of the actual record.

But town references can mean various things on different data
sets... This is due to different recording procedure by the town,
registrars and the researchers who created the indices.

Therefore, the important point to note is that if a town is mentioned,
there is some REFERENCE to that town in the record. To
determine precisely what the connection to the town is will require
an examination of the record itself.


Q:  What do my database search results tell me ?

A:  Positive search results indicate that there are records of possible interest to your family research. But, remember that this data is subject to error, either when the clerk first created an index from the handwritten records, or during the interpretation of poor handwriting by a volunteer. These records were written before the availability of typewriters, and the handwritten registers are aging and are often damaged.

Your search may yield information on individuals or events that you do not recognize. Be aware that Eastern European Jews adopted permanent surnames during the first 30 years of the 19th century, and there were laws regulating who could or must choose a similar name. Therefore, records of individuals with the same or slightly differing surname from your search entry… from the same town or a nearby town… are LIKELY to be relatives. So, do not dismiss these records out-of-hand, but investigate them; you may find cousins by this method.


Q:  What language is this database in ?

A:  The official language of this database is POLISH which is in accordance with JRI-Poland's agreement with the Polish State Archives. The letters of the Polish alphabet are Latin characters very similar to English (most are identical) and are easily read by an English-language reader.

Please note that even though the database entry is in Polish, the actual register records may be in Polish, Russian, German or Hebrew.


Q:  What should I do with the results of my database search ?

A:   If you spot a record of interest, that's when more detailed research starts; that is, the information was compiled from the original sources and therefore should be compared to the source documents for verification. Reviewing the original register entry will verify the data, but will also turn up new discoveries for your research!

Search results page(s) include (at the bottom) location information for all of the entries, either a reference to LDS microfilm numbers or a link to directions about how to order the record itself from an archive. Records with an LDS microfilm number can be ordered for viewing through a visit to a Mormon Family History Center in many countries of the world. In Israel, about half of these films are available at the Douglas E. Goldman Jewish Genealogy Center at Beth Hatefutsoth in Tel Aviv.

Copies of records in the Polish State Archives collection that were NOT filmed by the LDS microfilm project can be purchased directly from the Polish State Archives. A link to directions for ordering records from the PSA is included with search results that contain indices to such records.


Q:  How do I print or save my database search results ?

A:  The "plain text" option is normally recommended. It is easier to either save or print your search results in "plain text" format. It will also be easier to copy and paste the information into a new plain document from which you can edit or print.


Q:  What if the search doesn't find my family name when I think it should ?

A:  If an initial search doesn't locate your family name, make sure you are requesting a search of the whole district or gubernia – and not just one town -- to confirm that your surname is present in the database. The results of this second search may provide some clues as to why the initial search didn't find your family.

If your surname does not appear in a broader search of the database, it may be that the family did not live in the specific town you believe they did during the period represented in the JRI-Poland database. Locating your surname in neighboring towns may indicate the need for you to broaden your research to some of those towns.

It is also possible that you didn't find any records because the records are still being entered into the JRI-Poland database, and the years your family lived in the town have not yet been entered into the JRI-Poland database. To confirm this possibility, please review the database contents listing for your town which can be reached from the JRI-Poland main menu.

To ensure that these microfilms are indexed and included in the database, contact the JRI-Poland Transliteration Coordinator and volunteer to get involved with that town's Shtetl CO-OP. Your participation will bring your family’s and your town’s vital records indices to the world.

If your surname doesn't appear in the database AT ALL, you might consider the possibility that your surname was used in a different form in Poland and was changed somewhere along the way.


Q:  What if I need help reading Polish or Cyrillic (Russian) in the original records ?

A: There are several excellent sources of translation help available to you if you require help reading Polish or Russian language documents.

Two books which are outstanding translation aids are:

  1. Polish Documents: Judith R. Frazin's A Translation Guide to 19th-Century Polish-Language Civil-Registration Documents.

Samples of documents accompanied by a discussion of how to interpret them can be found at the JRI-Poland Web site.

  1. Russian Documents: Russian Language Documents From Poland by Jonathan D. Shea (Currently out of print but expected to be re-issued in the fall of 1999)

There are on-line resources available on the Internet to help with translations. One resource is the AltaVista Translation website.