A Guide to Researching Jewish Vital Records in the Lodz Archives

Including a Status Report of the JRI-Poland Project for Lodz

Contents and Links

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), also known as the Mormons, has microfilmed birth, marriage and death records of many of the Jewish communities of 19th century Poland including Lodz records from 1826 to 1877 found in the Lodz Archives. This microfilm collection is stored in Salt Lake City, Utah, and copies of the films may be ordered to and viewed at hundreds of Family History Centers around the world. Locations of Family History Centers are listed in your local telephone directory. Family History Centers in Los Angeles and New York have Lodz microfilms on permanent loan. While there are no Family History Centers in Israel, about half of the LDS collection is available at the Douglas E. Goldman Jewish Genealogy Center (formerly known as DOROT), located at Beth Hatefutsoth, the Museum of the Diaspora, in Tel Aviv.

LDS Microfilm for Lodz

Microfilm of Jewish vital records available for Lodz (to see a detailed inventory of these microfilms, click here)
ON PERMANENT LOAN: Beth Hatefutsoth, Los
Angeles, New York 
BMD 1826-1847 809,427 BH, LA, NY
BMD 1848-1858 809,428 BH, LA, NY
BMD 1859-1862 809,429 BH, LA, NY
BMD 1863-1865 809,430 BH, LA, NY
BMD 1866-1868 767,143 BH, LA, NY
BMD 1869-1870 767,144 BH, LA, NY
BMD 1871-1872 1,191,746 LA, NY
BMD 1873-1874 1,191,747 LA, NY
BMD 1875-1877 1,191,748 LA, NY
BMD 1877 1,191,749 LA, NY

At the end of each year there are three alphabetical indexes, one each for births, marriages and deaths. From 1826 to 1867, records are in Polish. Beginning in 1868 (and continuing in all records through W.W.I), records are in Russian. Polish and Russian dictionaries are very helpful in doing this type of research. Family History Centers usually maintain a brief Polish dictionary on site. For further information, see A Translation Guide to 19th-Century Polish-Language Civil-Registration Documents, Judith Frazin's online guide to translating and interpreting Polish documents, Polish Occupations Definitions (a JewishGen infofile) and Vital Records in Poland, an excellent in-depth discussion of Jewish vital records in Poland by Warren Blatt. For help with reading the Russian (Cyrillic) records see In Their Words, Volume II: Russian, by Jonathan D. Shea and William F. Hoffman, Language & Lineage Press. Volume I of this series details how to read Polish records.

The years before 1826, the Patronymic years 1810 through 1825, were indexed by Dorothy
Leivers. The years 1810 through 1822 are searchable now on the Jewish Records Indexing-Poland website. The final three years (1823, 1824, and 1825) are indexed and will be online soon. See these indices by going to JRI-Poland's home page and click on Patronymic years under Sources on the left for an explanation about these indices.  Then scroll down to Lodz to view the database.

In the end-of-year indices, a record number or "Akta" number is listed next to each name, which refers back to the exact location of the actual vital record. Each "Akta" is handwritten in old script in paragraph form and in chronological order, much like a journal entry. Within these "paragraphs," all of the relevant information is given, usually in this format: Recorded first is the location, date and time that the witnesses appeared at the civil registration office to report the event. The witnesses' names, and usually occupations, ages and places of residence are listed. The date, time and location of the actual event is recorded, along with other specific information.

For births, the name, age and occupation of the father and the maiden name and age of the mother are listed, along with their place of residence. It is important to note that registration of births was not required to be done immediately, and that many families registered their children's births at one time, years after the actual births. Some births were not registered until just before the individual's marriage. This practice is especially evident in the latter half of the 19th century. If a search of the JRI-Poland database shows children's births with the same surname and consecutive "Akt" numbers in the same year, one may reasonably assume they are siblings.

For marriages, the ages and places of residence of the bride and groom, along with the names, maiden names and places of residence of both sets of parents are listed. The same applies to the two witnesses and rabbi. Sometimes the information about the "banns," or marriage contract, will be listed as well. For deaths, usually two members of the Chevra Kadisha went to the civil registration office to report the event. If the decedent was a child, his age and the names of his parents are listed. If the decedent was an adult, his age, occupation, parents' names, surviving spouse and children are usually listed. The signatures of the witnesses and Polish clerk appear in each "Akta." Copies of these records can be made on copiers at the centers.

Below is an English translation of "Akta 173," an 1874 Lodz birth record. To see the original record, in Russian, click here.

1874 Birth Record of Josek Dawid Fajersztajn,
son of Lewek Fajersztajn and Hany Lipka 

173. It occurred in the office of the clerk of civil affairs at the town of Lodz in the year one thousand eight hundred seventy-four on the fourth of June at eight o'clock in the morning, appeared Lewek Fajersztajn, age twenty-two, residing in the town of Mishki. There also appeared Markus Elberger, age fifty-five, and Bierka Hedlish, age forty, residents of the place. They brought a male newborn claiming he was born on the first of June of this year at two o'clock in the afternoon from his wedded wife Hany, from the house of Lipkow, age twenty. They named the male newborn Josek Dawid. It was signed by the attendants.

M Elberger                 (signature of Polish clerk) 
B Hedlish

Jewish Records Indexing-Poland

The goal of Jewish Records Indexing-Poland is to build an Internet-searchable index to Jewish vital records of Poland. Indices to more than 1 million records from numerous towns are now available.  The indexing of available indexes to LDS microfilm of Lodz has been completed by the Lodz Shtetl CO-OP, under the leadership of Morris Wirth, and added to the JRI-Poland database:

City of Lodz
Lodz Province, old Piotrkow Gubernia

Indexes to 15,574 records
Births, Marriages, and Deaths: 1826-1877

The JRI-Poland project has two major components. The first is the indexing of the above mentioned LDS microfilmed records comprising about 2,000 films from more than 500 Polish towns and villages. These microfilms generally include Jewish records from 1826 to 1865 or 1875 with even some rare cases of 20th century records. Further information is available at the JRI-Poland web site.

Polish State Archives Project

The second component is the Polish State Archives Project. While the LDS films contain approximately 2 million records, there are an estimated additional five to seven million 19th century records that were not filmed. Generally, these cover the last 25-35 years of the 19th century, when many of our grandparents and great-grandparents lived in Poland. Only records more than 100 years old were available for the indexing project.

This is known as the JRI-Poland/Polish State Archives Project. Indexing was done in Poland on an archive by archive basis with a JRI-Poland "Archive Coordinator" taking responsibility for ALL the towns in the archive. He or she appointed Town Leaders to handle fund raising for the records of each town. Polish professionals did the data entry, from photocopies of index pages. Copies of these non-microfilmed records were ordered through the Polish State Archives via Jewish Records Indexing-Poland forms.

Effective November 30, 2006, after more than nine years of cooperation, the new head archivist in Poland chose to terminate the Indexing Project that covered the indexing of all Jewish records not previously microfilmed by the LDS Church that are in the possession of the PSA and are more than 100 years old. The JRI-Poland online ordering system was terminated.  

However, the online database will continue to operate providing a finding aid and tool for researchers to identify records of interest. The JRI-Poland order form can still be used to order records directly from the Polish State Archives.  As of now, you must order directly from the Archive or Branch where your records are held. The website for the Lodz Polish State Archives is: http://www.lodz.ap.gov.pl/e_index.html  Write to them at: 

91-415 LODZ

PHONE :  +48 42 632 62 01
FAX : +48 42 632 02 11

In the future, JRI-Poland is planning to have an order form you can use to work directly with the Archives and some instructions that may be helpful for researchers.

Phase I (1878-1898) of the Polish State Archives Project for the city of Lodz has been completed: indexes of over 50,000 late 19th century Jewish vital records of the city of Lodz, from 1878 to 1898, have been added to the JRI-Poland databasePhase II (the Lodz Seven-Year Initiative, 1899-1905), indexes of over 43,000 records, is also complete but only the years 1899 through 1901 are fully funded and on-line now.  The remaining four years will be added to the database when they are funded.  For further information about these projects, please continue on to the next section or contact Roni Seibel Liebowitz.

Contribute to the Lodz Polish State Archives Project

The Polish State Archives Coordinator for Lodz is Roni Seibel Liebowitz  and the Lodz PSA Assistant Archives Coordinator is Joe Ross.  They coordinate the work of the Town Leaders who assume responsibility for fund raising for the indexing of their towns' records. To volunteer, contact Roni Seibel Liebowitz.   Please give what you can so that all current and future generations of researchers of the  Lodz region can benefit from this project. Be sure to designate for which town your contribution is directed. Your contribution in U.S. Dollars may be mailed to:

Jewish Records Indexing - Poland
c/o Sheila Salo, Treasurer
5607 Greenleaf Rd.
Cheverly, MD 20785
Telephone: (301) 341-1261
FAX: 1-810-592-1768 (24 hours)

E-Mail: Sheila Salo

For those of you living outside the United States, VISA will convert your US Dollars contribution to your local currency. 

However, please identify the amount of your contribution in US Dollars. Special arrangements have been made to also accept bank checks in your local currency.  

Canadian contributors: to be eligible for a tax receipt, you must pay by cheque and use the form and follow the instructions at: www.jri-poland.org/canadianform.htm

Contributors of $100 to Phase I (1878-1898) or Phase II (1899-1905) of the city of Lodz PSA Project are entitled to receive the respective database in the form of an Excel file for their own personal research. Please contact Roni Seibel Liebowitz for more details.

JRI-Poland is a non-profit tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. The JRI-Poland web site, mailing list, and database are hosted by JewishGen, Inc.

Updates on the Polish State Archives Project

Updates on the status of the Lodz Polish State Archives Project are available at http://www.jewishgen.org/JRI-PL/psa/psastat1.htm. This page is updated frequently so check back often to view the current status of this important project.

List of Towns Whose Jewish Vital Records are Located in the Lodz Archives

NOTE: Towns not included in the Lodz Polish State Archives Project are marked with an asterisk(s). Portions of these towns' records are contained in other branches of the Polish State Archives, and are included in either the *Piotrkow Polish State Archives Project, Gloria Berkenstat Freund, Coordinator, or the **Rawa Mazowiecka Polish State Archives Project, Joe Ross, Coordinator.
Aleksandrów Lódzki
Biala Rawska**
Konstantynów Lódzki
Nowa Brzeznica
Nowe Miasto nad Pilica
Piotrków Trybunalski*
Rawa Mazowiecka**
Tomaszów Mazowiecki*
Zdunska Wola


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