For the last six years, I’ve been advocating for the larger push to digitize land records. I first became interested in these after stumbling on a few research guides highlighting their importance in the absence of vital records. For the next four years, I compiled lists of records I thought would be important to my own family history and really took a shot in the dark when traveling to the archives. I wasn’t sure if they would pan out.
The reality is that not all of the land records found in the archives will be of use. However, in many cases, they will help if you obtain the right one. Using Szukaj w Archiwach is a quick way to find them in the Polish archives. Both property and mortgage records typically show transfers between family members dating back to about the early 1810s. Land recessions and certificates can also help researchers go back one generation further to the late 1700s.
The video below highlights just one example of my success with land records, specifically the Grundbücher from Rarfin in Belgard with my Gehrke family.
These books need to be digitized with the same sense of urgency as the church books and civil registers, prioritizing areas where those vital records are largely missing.
This is one project I intend to continue over the years to make research more accessible to the public. I will continue to make every document that I am given permission to share available online on the records portal. These consist of records I have paid researchers to obtain as well as records I have photographed myself.