A new agreement signed by the Polish State Archives will provide the public with access to a million records related to Jewish life before the Holocaust.
Signed Friday, the deal increases by 25 percent the number of documents available via Jewish Records Indexing-Poland, an online database that helps researchers explore the country’s Jewish past.
“We are deeply aware that countless numbers of Jews from around the world trace their origins to Poland,” PSA general director Władysław Stępniak said at a signing ceremony.
“We take notice of this,” he told JRI’s Polish representative, Krzysztof Malczewsk, “and feel obliged to continue this relationship.”
The JRI archive currently draws on documents from more than 550 towns, with some of the records dating back to the late 1700s. The PSA has announced plans to digitize all vital records in Poland’s 30 regional archives — documents that track major life events such as births, marriages and deaths. As part of the new deal, the PSA will link to Jewish records already made available online by JRI, which began indexing old records in 1995.The addition of the new documents increases to 5 million the number of records available via JRI, which describes itself as “the largest database of Jewish vital records online.”, “and feel obliged to continue this relationship.”
Based in Bethesda, Maryland, JRI seeks to dispel the view that historical records of Polish Jewry were wiped out during the Holocaust. The organization says its database has helped to reunite families divided by the genocide, and allowed researchers to complete family medical histories and learn more about genetically transmitted diseases.