Census Records

Polish Census Records – Then and Now

by Tadeusz H. Piłat MLS, AG

  • These notes are from a webinar covering census records from the pre-partition era through the three partitions of Poland to after WWII.
  • It is designed to give you an idea of what tallies of populations or parts of populations were taken, when they were taken, and what they were called. This can be useful when searching archival records for information beyond vital records.
  • It is important to note that not all of these records are available for all regions, and very little has been indexed or made available online.

Pre-Partitioned Poland
Pogłówne introduced in the 16th century. Głowa = a head. Since 1717 it was a permanent tax for the maintenance of the army. Only nobility is included.
Podymne introduced in 1629. It was a permanent tax from each house. Dym or komin = a chimney. Only nobility is included.
Szosowe existed already in the 16th century. Szosa = a street. It was the basic property tax paid by town inhabitants. Only town people were listed.
Lists of soldiers from 1528. Only includes minor nobility of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. These minor nobility could be ancestors of peasants and town people.
Estate Inventories can be very detailed listing peasants, town people and minor nobility. An estate usually included several villages and even towns.
Civil-Military Order Commission / Komisja Porządkowa Cywilno, begun 1789. Supposed to be the first census in Poland, but documents survive only from:
      Inowrocław: Radziejów and Kruszwica districts.
      Wieluń and Ostrzeszów lands
      Kraków province: Kraków, Proszowice, Książ, Lelów districts
      List of Jews of the Kraków province
      Kraków district 1790-1792
      Chełm land and Krasnystaw district

Prussian Partition
The first census in Prussia which listed individuals with their names was made in 1840. Other lists of inhabitants can be found under the following German words:
      Bevölkerungsliste [Inhabitant list]
      Bürgerbuch [Town list]
      Bürgerliste der Stadt [Place name and year]
      Einwohnerlisten [Inhabitant, population list]
      Familienregister [Family register]
      Impflisten [vaccination lists can also be very informative]
      Liste sämtlicher Zivileinwohner [year]
      Namenlisten der Einwohner von [year]
      Personenverzeichnis der Gemeinde [Place name]
      Stammrolle der Stadt [Place name and year]
      Urliste sämtlicher Zivileinwohner [year]

Austrian Partition (Galicia)
Below is a collection of censuses in the Polish areas of Austria, and later the Austrian-Hungarian Empire.
      Surveys date from 1785 (called Metryka Józefińska) and from 1820 (called Metryka Franciszkańska).
      Kraków area is represented by the 1790 Census.
      A military census in Galicia took place in 1808.
      General censuses were held in 1857, 1869, 1880, 1890, 1900 and 1910.
      Censuses for the town of Kraków come from 1850, 1857, 1870, 1880, 1890, 1900 and 1910.

Russian Partition (Kingdom of Poland)
Duchy of Warsaw Censuses
      1808-1811 – first census no names – statistical data
      1810 – Decree on the Population Books (Księgi ludności)
Kingdom of Poland Censuses
      1818 – Prawidła (how to keep the books)
      1840 – unification of the data
      1861 – first Census produced (three types of books)
            Book of permanent residents
            Book of non-permanent residents
            Registration book
      1865 – general revision and system change
      1897 – general census in all Russia including the Kingdom of Poland
Revision Lists are very important for the land which after the partitions became part of the Russian Empire (today mainly Belarus, Lithuania). The revisions took place in 1794-1795, 1811, 1833-1834, 1850-1851, 1857-1859. Supplements in 1806, 1816, 1817, 1874.

Republic Poland 1918-1939
Two general Censuses in the Republic of Poland
      September 30, 1921 – First Census. It listed the citizenship
      December 9, 1931 – Second Census
Books of residents were still operating. Some can be found in the local Urząd Gminy / County Offices.

The first complete census after World War II was carried out in December 1950.
Regular 10-year censuses around the world are the result of international agreements coordinated by the United Nations.