Updates to Polish archive links

A change mentioned previously has finally happened, and the Polish State Archives (PSA) site szukajwarchiwach.pl has started redirecting links to it to the new site szukajwarchiwach.gov.pl. I wrote about the differences between these two sites previously in Figuring out the Polish State Archive changes. Now that the change has happened I’ve taken some time to go through over 5000 links in the Compendium that go to the PSA web sites, and correct them. If you’re not interested in the technical details, just go look at the archival links for Polish towns in the Compendium. If you want to understand more about how and why these were added, see my original introduction to these links in Introducing archival records info in the Compendium. For more information about the B&F Compendium of Jewish Genealogy in general, see About the Compendium.

This was not an easy task for a number of reasons. As I mentioned in my previous article the old site had an intelligently designed URL scheme that allowed one to jump to specific archives and collections by just knowing the correct numbers for each archive and collection. The new site uses a new numbering scheme that doesn’t map to the existing organizational scheme. In addition, I originally set up the archive links based on an older PSA database called PRADZIAD which had information on every collection in the archives, but that database is no longer accessible (well, not completely – see below), and there is no similar comprehensive database available. The old site redirects to the new site, but unfortunately not all the redirects work properly. The new site also makes it much harder to check if a collection exists or not, and some that existed before do not exist now (I don’t know if those have been moved somewhere or if the collection was digitally lost in the move between sites).

In the original design, all the collections were taken from PRADZIAD, and then mapped to the then-new szukajwarchiwach.pl site. At the time not everything in PRADZIAD was visible in the other site. In a strange reversal, the new site szukajwarchiwach.gov.pl is supposed to be comprehensive, but when it doesn’t have the information yet, it posts a link to information from PRADZIAD, which is now only accessible for the collections that have not otherwise been updated on the site.

The PRADZIAD information for Jewish records from Kańczuga

I’m showing the above example of Jewish records from Fond 1731 in the Przemyśl archive as an example of the limitations of this resource. While this particular fond has been scanned in part, there is no information about it in the main section of the site, only in this PRADZIAD supplement. There is nothing to indicate that the scans are on the Przemyśl archive web site. However, if you were to go to the Przemyśl site, and find 13 units listed:

Listing of archival units in Fond 1731 at the Przemyśl archives site

You might think that only these 13 units exist, when in fact there are 35 (see Scanned records from Kańczuga in the Przemyśl Archives for more information on these if you’re interested). Many of those additional units are not accessible due to privacy rules, but just knowing they exist is half the battle in my opinion. The point here is that there is no web site among the Polish State Archives that is comprehensive, and whatever information you find online about what records exist needs to be double-checked with the archives themselves.

The new system is organized a bit differently, but I don’t have the time to do a complete redesign of how I link to the archives, so I’m going to be describing things a bit differently. I will be linking to the .gov.pl site, and if there is PRADZIAD information I will link to that as well. If there is information on the collections in the site itself, I will use the link that formerly was just for PRADZIAD to go to the list of archival units for that collecttion. In most cases you will need to look through the list and find the specific unit you are looking for, based on the description. There will likely be several units that match, covering different years. In rare cases I have been able to link directly to the unit described, but that is only possible for small collections.

In cases where collections have seemingly disappeared, I’ve left the information, but the links won’t work. Knowing that the collections once existed is still useful, and you can use the information to contact the archive and ask about the collection, and why it isn’t accessible anymore. The good news is that some collections that were not on the old site are now present on the new site. There are more positive cases like that that there are of cases where collections went missing.

I’ve also left the original information for each collection that came from PRADZIAD. This information may not be up-to-date, but there is no easy way to update this currently, and in many cases it will give you information on what is available that is very hard to determine from the new site. I believe about 15 collections were moved, but there is no information yet about where those collections were moved to, so I am also leaving those in place until I’m able to determine where they have been moved to (I am hoping the archive will answer me about these).

If you run into any problems with the new links, please let me know. This was a full change of over 5000 links, and while I tried to double-check everything, it’s definitely possible I made a mistake somewhere.

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