Tag Archives: archives

A Major Breakthough for Jewish Polish Records

JRI-Poland and the Polish State Archives have announced a new agreement to expand the availability of Jewish records from Poland. An earlier agreement which was in effect between 1997 and 2006 resulted in the indexing of more than 4 million records which make up the bulk of the JRI-Poland database. The cancellation of that agreement in 2006 was a major blow to Jewish genealogy. There have been ongoing discussions since 2007, but the resumption of cooperation did not materialize until now. This announcement, made on Friday, is much more than most expected, and well worth the wait.

The first major component of the announcement is that JRI-Poland will be able to add an additional million records to its database within the next year. That is in addition to the 4 million existing records already in their database that originate from the Polish State Archives.


JRI-Poland Executive Director Stanley Diamond signing the agreement in the
presence of Polish Consul General Andrzej Szydło in Montreal, Quebec.

The second major component is that JRI-Poland will launch a new Order Processing System, which will allow people searching for records on the site to click on a record they want and order it directly on the JRI-Poland site using a credit card. JRI-Poland will handle the credit card processing and the archives in Poland will copy the records. For anyone who has dealt with ordering records from Polish archives directly, this is a major breakthrough.

While my Finding and getting copies of Jewish records in Poland article is still one of the most popular on this site, and was published in print as well, it is my hope that this announcement means that in the future that article will not be needed.


Polish State Archives General Director Władysław Stępniak signing the agreement,
with JRI-Poland representative 
Krzysztof Malczewski (on left) looking on.

The third major component of the announcement is that the Polish State Archives is starting a major effort to digitize all of their records in all 30 Regional Archives, and make them available for free online. As these digital scans come online, JRI-Poland will link directly to the images from their database search results. As the images come online, the new Order Processing System will be phased out.

The announcement is available on the JRI-Poland site (in English) as well as the Polish State Archives site (in Polish).

I’d like to congratulate Stanley Diamond, the Co-Founder and Executive Director of JRI-Poland, as well as the other JRI-Poland board members, staff and volunteers who made this agreement possible.

I look forward to seeing the different elements of this agreement come to fruition, and will let readers of this blog know about things as they happen.

Useful Document for Researching Belgian Immigrants to US

Antwerp Baggage Disinfection Room
“Everything for passengers is done free of charge in this building.”

I recently discovered a document on the web site of the Felix Archives (the Antwerp city archives) called Emigration to America (this is a PDF). It seems to date back to 1999, but is still useful, especially considering no documents newer than 75 years ago are available anyways, and this document lists what documents exist in archives related to people living in Antwerp that may have emigrated to the US. The document was put together by the Archivist of the City of Antwerp. The availability dates mentioned are certainly out of date – for example it refers to certain collections available up to 1915, but those collections are now available to at least 1930 if not later. This is because as time goes on, more records are made publicly available.

Some of the interesting records mentioned in the document include registers from hotels and boarding houses, and emigration lists of third-class passengers from 1892 forward (second-class and first-class passengers were not recorded in these registers because American immigration restriction did not apply to them).

Some of the archives mentioned in the document include:

  • Antwerp City Archives (Stadsarchief Antwerpen)
  • Provincial Archives Antwerp (Provinciaal Archief Antwerpen)
  • National Archives Antwerp (Rijksarchief Antwerpen)
  • National Archives Beveren (Rijksarchief Beveren)
  • National Archives of Belgium, Brussels (Algemeen Rijksarchief Brussel)
  • Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Brussels (Archief van het Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken, Brussel)
  • National Archives, The Hague (Algemeen Rijksarchief Den Haag)
  • Rotterdam Municipal Archives (Gemeentearchief Rotterdam)


as well as these in the US:

  • National Archives and Records Administration
  • Ellis Island
  • National Archives Regional Center in New York
  • New York Municipal Archives


and these genealogy societies:


  • Flemish Association for Family Research
  • (Vlaamse Vereniging voor Familiekunde)
  • Netherlands Genealogical Association


Keep in mind that some of the documents mentioned as being in specific archives (in 1999) are now in different archives. In particular the central immigrant police files are now in the National Archives in Brussels.


Did your family live in or pass through Antwerp, Belgium?

I’m looking for people whose relatives lived in Antwerp by the 1920s. Antwerp, as one of the largest port cities in Europe, was host to many people who left their homes in other parts of Europe and made their way to Belgium, sometimes permanently and sometimes just briefly on their way elsewhere, such as to the US.

I wrote an article back in November on researching Jewish relatives that passed through Belgium, but it is now woefully out of date due to changes at the web site of the Felix Archives in Antwerp. As part of updating that article (which is the basis of a lecture I’ll be giving in August – more on that later) I’d like to find a few people with families who lived in Belgium so I can help them find records, and at the same time update my knowledge of the archives.

If your family lived in Antwerp in the 19th century up through the 1920s, please send me an e-mail with the following information:

– Name of family member(s) that lived in Antwerp
– Where they lived before Antwerp (and where they were born if different)
– When they arrived in Antwerp
– When they left Antwerp

Also, let me know if you’ve ever researched your family members in the Felix Archives in Antwerp or the State Archives in Brussels, and if there are other archival resources in Belgium you’ve used to find out about your family there.

Thank you.