Registration questionnaires of the First and Second General Censuses of Poland in 1921 and 1931.

February 17th, 2021


The article written by Piotr Zelny – genealogist, historian working in the Historical Museum in Sanok, tourist and genealogy guide in PolishOrigins.

Proofreading: Aleksander Zawilski.


When World War I had drawn to an end and Poland was regaining its sovereignty, the Polish authorities faced a very difficult task of reunifying the country. For over a century, the individual parts of the state remained within the borders of foreign countries. Several generations of people grew up in three different countries, three different political, administrative and economic systems. In addition, the First World War that swept through the country completely changed the picture of reality.


The last census in the Prussian and Austrian partitions took place in December 1910, in the Russian partition in February 1897. Although Austria-Hungary and Germany conducted censuses during the war in 1916 and 1917, and Poland in 1919, they took place only in some parts of the country. The authorities of the reborn Poland, who had to rule over the divided country, had just a rough idea about demography, social and economic conditions of its own state. Without this knowledge, it was impossible to effectively manage such a diverse country.


Filling out registration sheets by village women from Bronowice near Krakow. The Second General Census 1931. Photograph from the collection of the National Digital Archive.


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My work as a tour guide in the Sanok Skansen. Interview with Maria Grabowska.

February 12th, 2021

This is the second part of the article which was originally published in “Rodziny” – The Journal of the Polish Genealogical Society of America, issued in winter 2021.


My interlocutor is Maria Grabowska, who has been working as a guide in the open-air museum in Sanok for many years. She is an ethnographer, regonalist, a fantastic personality who very often guides our guests in the Sanok museum.


Maria Grabowska guiding in Sanok during Galicia Tour.

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What Open-Air Museums Can Teach You about the Life of Your Ancestors?

February 11th, 2021


This article was originally published in “Rodziny” – The Journal of the Polish Genealogical Society of America, issued in winter 2021.


As a tour and research manager in PolishOrigins, one of my main tasks is to create itineraries
for our guests. I am an ethnologist and ethnographer by education, so for years I have been recommending everyone to visit open-air museums during their stay in Poland. In this article I seek to convince the readers of Rodziny, descendants of Polish emigrants, to do the same.

I remember the first time I visited an open-air museum; it was on a school trip when I was a kid.


The Museum of the Masovian Countryside in Sierpc.


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Make your ancestors proud.

January 29th, 2021



Have you ever thought about what your forefathers would tell you if you met them?

The question does not have to do anything with religion. It doesn’t matter at the moment if you believe that you will meet them again or do not believe in that at all. You can look at it as a thought experiment.

So, what would they say if they could talk with you?


Would they worry about you?

It is possible in this time we experience now they would be worried about you. Or maybe they would tell you that actually you are very lucky living in this time, in this place, even if the future is uncertain (when was it certain?).


Would they give you advice?

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Traditional Polish Christmas Recipes

December 18th, 2020


Christmas is a very special time. In Poland we celebrate especially the Christmas Eve. Well, we celebrate for the next few days as well, but the menu for traditional Polish Christmas Eve is different, special and unique. We have to remember that this was the time of the year when fresh fruits and vegetables were not available. People had to use what they had in their cellars or what they managed to preserve. This is why instead of fresh fruits, they used dried ones, salted herring instead of a fresh one, groats and cabbage.

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Do you need Polish citizenship to live in Poland?

October 29th, 2020


For many years we have been getting questions about becoming a Polish citizen. The requests for advice were made through our Forum, via emails, or by our tours’ guests. In the last case these questions were often preceded by words like: “I feel like home here…”, “Now I understand so much better why my grandparents missed the “Old Country””, or ”I have a feeling that my life made a circle and I am back where I belong…”.

The number of inquiries about obtaining Polish citizenship has risen dramatically in recent months. It may be a result of the genealogy research services we started to provide this March, but we are not sure if it is the only reason for the increased interest.

So far, also before 2020, we have managed to help quite a few people in obtaining documents required to submit applications for confirming Polish citizenship. Through the years we have also established working relationships with people who specialize in the legal process of confirmation of Polish citizenship by ancestry.

One of these experts who we have worked with on a regular basis, Katarzyna Kacprzak, prepared guidelines for confirming and obtaining Polish citizenship by descent.

Katarzyna has a 100% success track record. If she accepts the case there is a good chance that she will deliver. 


But is it necessary to be a Polish citizen to live in Poland?

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Polish Citizenship Confirmation

October 29th, 2020

Why confirm your Polish citizenship?

During the years we spent working on cases of applying for Polish citizenship, we could see two major reasons for trying to get one’s Polish citizenship confirmed.

The first reason is that a Polish passport equals an EU passport and having Polish citizenship and subsequently applying for a Polish passport means:

– open access to the EU work market
– smaller fees at the EU universities for the EU students
– shorter queues at the EU passport control.

The second reason was the emotional value attached to having back the citizenship of one’s ancestors.


How to confirm your Polish citizenship?

To successfully confirm Polish citizenship through one’s Polish ancestry, the following requirements have to be met:

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Is checking vital records all you can do?

August 26th, 2020



It’s been six months since we have introduced our Genealogy Services. Time for a quick look back and recap.

So far we have received over 200 inquiries, of which 67 developed into research projects. In many cases we are still waiting for some supplementary information or for the opening of specific institutions. Dozens of projects have been already completed, and you can imagine how many ancestors and relatives we have found!

There were many obstacles, especially those related to the pandemic, limited access to documents, and the inability to travel further, for example to Ukraine. Currently, the situation is gradually normalizing.

But let’s leave the problems, today we want to focus on some of our interesting cases and successes.



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Finding your ancestors’ place in Kresy (Borderlands).

July 16th, 2020


In our last video we have talked on how to find the geographical position of the town or village of your interest. We only talked about the area of modern Poland and today we want to add a short supplemental video, that will focus on its former Eastern borderlands.


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How to find the correct location of the birthplace of your ancestors?

June 29th, 2020


As a part of our Genealogy Pro Tip series, we created another video that can help you in starting or expanding your adventure with genealogy.

Even if you have learned the name of the town or village your ancestors came from, it still might be hard to determine where its geographical position is exactly. In some cases, there are dozens of places in Poland with the same name and they can be spread across the whole country.

Very often the names of the villages were misspelled by the immigration clerks and figuring out which one did the mean poses a different challenge.

This is why in our video we present you two tools that we use in our daily work and that can help you with this matter.



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