I have recently returned from Warsaw where I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to do some work in the AGAD (Archiwum Glowne Akt Dawnych) and briefly visit the Urzad Stanu Cywilnego, the two archives in Warsaw which keep Galicia birth marriage and death records. I would like to share this experience with you and help you understand what a treasure these records area and how important they are to understanding Jewish history in Galicia.
The AGAD archives are housed in a lovely, old (probably rebuilt), small palace very close to Old Square in Warsaw. The rooms are bright and pleasant to work in and the staff, although mainly not fluent in English, is most helpful. The security is strict. One is not allowed to take large bags or materials other than a pencil and notepaper into the reading room.
Permission is given to people to search the records for their families only. I would hope that if historians at some time wished to see the records they might be given permission since there is much demographic information that would be of interest to Jewish history in the area
Books may be ordered from the stacks before 1:00 p.m. in order to be in the reading room on the same day and are offered to the researcher one at a time. Many of the books I ordered were refused because they are in very bad condition. In a discussion with the chief archivist, I was told that the neglected state of the books was apparent when the AGAD received these books from the former lands of Poland. The archive has not had money to restore and microfilm them, although it hopes to be able to do this in the near future.
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