We would like to turn your attention to a kind of record that can give you information about your ancestors living in Galicia that no other source would give.
Cadastral records were used by Austrian authorities for tax reasons – they recorded size of each property, category of the land, number of houses, changes in ownership and other information useful for tax reasons. There were three main cadasters. First one in 1785, soon after Austria took over southern Poland. The second in 1817. The third and most interesting was recorded in late 1840s and early 1850s, and later changes were added to this set. The third one is most interesting as it contains beautiful and detailed maps of each village in Galicia. Quite a lot of records from this cadaster survived but they are distributed between a number of archives.
The biggest collections are in the State Archives in Rzeszów, Przemyśl, Kraków and in the Main Historical Archives in Lwów (today western Ukraine). If you do not find the records for your village in any of these archives there is still a chance of finding them in a local county office.
Polish State Archives branches in Przemyśl, Rzeszów, Kraków have recently digitized their cadastral records but only the third one, in Krakow, started to put their holdings online using www.szukajwarchiwach.pl service (I come back to it below). You still can order copies from two other archives. Gesher Galicia group have on their webpage inventories of holdings (maps only) for these two archives (http://www.geshergalicia.org/inventory/maps-polish-state-archives-rzeszow/ and http://www.geshergalicia.org/inventory/maps-polish-state-archives-przemysl/).
Record for each village typically consists of a very detailed (scale 1:2280), colorful map of each village showing each plot of land and each building in a village.
Second part of a set is so called operat – that is a set of documents and tables describing a village and properties. The most interesting for genealogical reasons are alphabetical listings of house and land owners. Each entry for each owner contains: house number (this is the same number that you can find in metrical records but not on the map), building plot number (you can find it on the map), numbers of plots of land that belonged to this owner and later changes in ownership.
Important thing is that if you ask for a digital copy of cadastral records that are not online yet, you should also request a copy of a table listing all owners. Without it the map wouldn’t be very useful. If you have both parts you can quite easily find houses and land plots owned by your ancestors, then compare the old map with current map and find the exact place where they were located.
Kraków National Archives recently started adding their cadastral records (maps only so far) to the www.szukajwarchiwach.pl service. As far as I know they already finished digitizing them but it always takes some time before they put it online. They have over 2800 different maps (that does not mean 2800 different villages because there could be a few copies for a single village or maps from different timeframes), mainly for western Galicia (Krakow, Bochnia, Brzesko, Chrzanów, Myślenice, Nowy Sącz, Żywiec counties) but also some maps for areas further to the east and even from what is now western Ukraine. There are currently online maps from the following counties: Bochnia (not full), Brzesko, Chrzanów, Dębica, Jasło, Jaworzno, Kołomyja and Kraków (17741 scans). There are no accompanying tables (operats) yet but good thing is that there are inventories available for some of the counties so you can check if there is complete set for the village you are interested. If there is no inventory available yet you would have to ask the archives.
The www.szukajwarchiwach.pl database, although very important for genealogists, is not the most user-friendly service so we thought it would be useful to write a short instruction on how to find the records you are interested in. Here it is:
1. Go to the page www.szukajwarchiwach.pl
2. If you are for the first time on this page you will probably see a white pop-up window with a description of different databases maintained by Polish state archives. You can either to close it (cross in the top-right corner) or before closing you may check a box in bottom-left corner so that it does not appear next time and then close it.
3. You may switch to English by choosing British flag in top-right corner.
4. Choose Archives option in the bottom-left corner of the search form (just below the checkbox ‘Only with scans’)
5. From the list choose Archiwum Narodowe w Krakowie (National Archive in Kraków – link)
6. In the new window choose Resources (link).
7. You will see list of all holdings of the National Archive in Krakow archives that are available through www.szukajwarchiwach.pl service. There are many collection which may interest genealogists but now we want to use 29/280/0 Kataster galicyjski (when the instruction was created it was the fourth collection on the list – link).
8. In the next screen choose Series (link) and you will see all available sets, a few for each county. The most interesting for us are maps (mapy) and cadastral documentations (operaty).
9. Let’s suppose we are interested in the village of Balice in Kraków county. We can either type Balice in search box (search will be limited to the Cadastre collection) or we can go to the Kataster Kraków – mapy (no. 9.1 – link) and then choose one of the maps for Balice. We choose the first one for Balice (29/280/0/9.1/891 from 1848 – link), then Digital copies (13) tab and we will see a number of scans, in this case 13 – link.
10. When we choose the third scan (link) we will see how the whole village was divided into sections. In this case there is 11 sections (click the ‘enlarge’ button in the bottom right corner to see the map clearly).
11. On the map of given sections (like this one – link) you can see roads, rivers, forests, names of parts of the village, numbers of all plots including numbers of building plots (small yellow rectangles). The building plots numbers are not the same as house numbers but you can find out which house number corresponds to which plot number when you see the operat (cadastral documentation). It is quite easy to compare this map with current map. You may use Google Maps http://maps.google.com (sometimes even with the panoramic view of the Google Street View technology) to see current view of the village or given (your ancestors’?) piece of land.
12. In order to find operat (they are not available online yet so you would need to request them from the archives) in the list of series (link) you can chose Kataster Kraków – operat (9.4 – link) and then operat for Balice (5 Balice Krakauer Kreis Beirk Liszki – link). In this case we do not have further description so we do not know if the alphabetical listing of cadastral documentation for Balice survived or not. If you are interested in resources of specific branch of Archives (in this case Krakow you will find email addresses to contact them directly here: link.
Digitizing cadastral records is still a work in progress and making them available online has just begun, so even if you are not lucky yet and your village is still not available it may be in the close future. I think it is a matter of a few months that all cadastral records from Krakow archives would be available online and I hope the two other archives would follow them soon.