Do you know to which parish your ancestor’s village belonged?


A while back we have started sharing our genealogy knowledge throughout a series of Genealogy Pro Tips that are published on our Facebook page. You can find short and practical advice there, for example on how to find a place of your interest, the graves of your ancestors, or check the geographical occurrence of a specific surname.

Today, we would like to share something bigger with you. We created a video that can help you in establishing to which parish your ancestral village belonged. The history of vital records in Poland is different in each of the three partitions. The main thing they have in common though is that it was the parishes that developed vital registration first and that their documents remain the most important when beginning your adventure with genealogy.

In this video, we are presenting you three tools that we regularly use to determine to which parish a certain village or town belonged. Some of these sources are in Polish only, but inside the video we try to guide you through each step and help you to learn how to obtain the information you need from them. We hope that thanks to our film you will be able to kick start your adventure with genealogy.


Below you will find the sources which are mentioned in the video:

  • Słownik Geograficzny Królestwa Polskiego or Geographical Dictionary of the Kingdom of Poland.  This is a monumental work of 15 volumes that cover the former territory of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth alongside some neighboring areas like Silesia, Prussia or Slovakia. It was published between 1880 and 1902 and close to 150 people contributed to it. You should keep these dates in mind, the dictionary lists the parishes from this period only. When new parishes were established, some villages could have changed their affiliation and become a part of a different parish. This source is purely in Polish, but let not that scare you as with a few instructions it can be quite easy to maneuver through (watch the video for more detailed instruction).


  •  Skorowidz Miejscowości Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej or Index of places in the Polish Republic. It was published in 1931, so roughly 30 or 50 years after our previous source. Because of this, some of the parishes might have changed in the meantime. The index is much easier to navigate as it is in a tabular form. It has several shortcomings though. First of all, it only covers the territory of the II Polish Republic, therefore covers a smaller area than the previous source. Also, you cannot access it through a browser, it needs to be downloaded to your hard drive and opened with a special software that opens .djvu files. Finally, the 1930s are not necessarily  the period of your interest as most of your ancestors have emigrated much earlier.  However, in many cases, the parishes in the 30s were the same as the ones in the 1880s though.


  • If your village  used to be a part of Germany before 1945, this is a useful online database to look up. This website is in English, so it is very easy to use.

There are several other sources we use, but these are the ones I find most useful. If you have any other tools you use, would like to to learn more about different ones or have any questions, let us know in the comments!

This is the first video in a series that we want to publish regularly. If you would like to see any other topics touched by us in our videos, please let us know!

Our team of genealogists and research managers is ready to help you with your genealogy projects. If you would like to find out if there is anything could we do to help you now or in the near future, fill out our research request form: .

You will find more details about our genealogy services here:

Aleksander Zawilski and the whole PolishOrigins Team


  1. Hi. I did my DNA on My Frank Rybka family was last seen in Korzeniste (Lomza/Kolno) NE Russian/Poland (he was born early to mid 1850’s) he was married to Katherine Ruszczik and they are in the records at Poryte Parish (Bialystok). They had a son Jan and stanislaw and my grandfather Konstanty P. Rybka (which I can’t find his birth certificate) and a daughter Janina and unknown others. Katherine is Frank’s second wife (first wife maybe Marianne Piontek).
    I couldn’t find any Rybka DNA matches until one just came up that was Regina Rybka whose father Marciej (from around 1750) was from Poronin (near Zakopane). So I’m trying to find the connection. I heard the Rybkas had many sons who spread out thruout Poland (catholics). Can you share any thoughts with me on that?

  2. Christie,

    It seems that it would be necessary to check Poryte parish books as far as you can in your Rybka line. Maybe there could be found a hint telling us if really any of the Rybka family members for some reasons moved from Poronin to Poryte some time in 1700s or 1800s. Also, maybe there are other non-metrical sources which are worth checking (we would need to analyse it).

    We have been in Poryte a few times on our tours and research (you can find even one entry blogs about that: as well as testimonial: ) and we know that the books are available in the parish.

    Also, you can find quite many entries about Poryte on our website, including other people searching in this parish:

    If you needed any further assistance please let us know by email: [email protected] or filling out the genealogy research request: or the tour request: .

    Best Regards,

  3. Thank you for your kind response. Seems Rybkas were not in Korzeniste prior to 1700 so I don’t know where they came from. Katherine Rybka possibly returned to Poland 1920’s with son Jan. (in census she said she had 13 kids but we know of 6 Rybkas, only 3 living when she came to America). They must have had flu or something because several young kids died in everyone’s family in Korzeniste at the time. I went thru the Poryte Parish reel myself and pulled only a few Rybka items, more from Poryte Cemetery. I heard during wars people fled south to Hungary, thought what was left of the Rybka family could have gone there. As mentioned I have a DNA Rybka connection that just popped up for Zakopane.

  4. Dear Zenon & Team
    I have been trying to find out about our family’s histroy.
    The only thing we have been able to find out was a relative that was baptised in St John’s Church in Vilna, the family name was Wojnar?
    I am hoping you might be able to help with the family history.
    I believe my Great grandfather traveled to Australia in the late 1800 by ship.
    I was planning a holiday to travel to Vilna when COVID happen, which was very disappointing.

    Would love to travel to Vilna when it is safe to do so.

    Kind regards
    Denise Pavlinovich
    Perth. Western Australia.

    1. Dear Denise,

      Do you have date of baptism of your relatives in the St. John’s church in Vilna? Maybe we could check if there are any records available for this parish for the years you are interested in.

      We are all badly missing return of tours in extend as it was before covid.

      What’s is interesting, in a few weeks we will be traveling Wojnar family member but from south-eastern corner of today’s Poland.

      Kind regards,

  5. I am trying to find information on my grandparents from Wach Poland. born in the 1880’s I can’t figure out what parish they would have been from. Names were Rozalia Topa Wiktor Wyrembek

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