Now comes the announcement that the agreement was signed Friday, 15 February 2013. Not only will more records be available for indexing by JRI-Poland, but access to copies of the original records will be streamlined through a new Order processing System. Ultimately (and this is great not just for Jewish genealogists, but for all researchers interested in Polish genealogy), PSA will digitize all vital records in all branches of the State Archives and make them available online. I hope this will serve as a model to get archives in neighboring countries to see the value of this endeavor!
What follows is the news release from JRI-Poland.
Polish State Archives and Jewish Records Indexing - Poland signBethesda, Maryland and Warsaw, Poland, February 15, 2013
historic agreement providing expanded access to Jewish records in Poland
Today the Polish State Archives (PSA) and Jewish Records Indexing - Poland (JRI-Poland) entered into a new multi-year agreement to expand access to Jewish records.
PSA General Director, Professor Władysław Stępniak observed: "The signing of this agreement will open a new phase in the cooperation between JRI-Poland and State Archives in Poland. I am convinced that the results of our mutual efforts will be helpful for many people interested in centuries-old Polish-Jewish relations, shared history and family history research."
JRI-Poland’s searchable online database of records from more than 550 towns is the starting point in Jewish family history research in Poland. The database of records going back to the late 18th century belies the misleading notion that Jewish records of Poland were destroyed in World War II.
The agreement will enable JRI-Poland to rapidly expand its current online database of indices to five million records, the largest database of Jewish vital records online. Indices to more than one million additional records are expected to become available within a year and will dovetail with the opening in Warsaw of the new Museum of the History of Polish Jews.
In a statement reflecting the strong significance of these records and their importance to family historians around the world, the PSA announced that they are beginning a massive effort to digitize all vital records in their more than 30 Regional Archives. These will be available — free — on their National Digital Archives and Regional Archive websites.
JRI-Poland will serve the research community and PSA by linking its search results to the PSA’s digital images of the Jewish records. As a result of the massive indexing undertaken by JRI-Poland since 1995, the indices to Jewish records will form the bulk of all digital image linking on the PSA website. Thus, for the first time a non-profit organization will be linking its search results to vital record images provided by a European archives.
In addition, JRI-Poland and the PSA will institute a new Order Processing System to vastly simplify the process of obtaining copies of archival records. JRI-Poland will have the administrative responsibility for processing orders for records from branches of the Polish State Archives. Researchers will be able to place orders by clicking on record index entries of interest in the JRI-Poland search results and paying by credit card via the JRI-Poland website. The Order Processing System will eventually be phased out as digitized records become available online.
The JRI-Poland database and volunteers have been instrumental in reuniting families separated by the Holocaust and helping hidden children find their identities. JRI-Poland has been recognized by the medical and scientific communities for the potential assistance to Ashkenazic families trying to trace medical histories, particularly those at increased risk for hereditary conditions and diseases. As a result of statistical analyses indicating a high incidence of medical and genetic abnormalities in individuals of Polish-Jewish descent, JRI - Poland serves as a finding aid for those who may need answers to medical-related questions or require bone marrow or other transplants. Because of this, JRI-Poland has received commendations from the Gift of Life Foundation and the National Marrow Donor Program.
Founded in 1995, JRI-Poland was an outgrowth of Executive Director and Montrealer Stanley Diamond's need for access to Jewish vital records of the former Łomża Gubernia area of Poland for research into his family’s genetic history. JRI-Poland is run by a global board, aided by hundreds of volunteers and serving thousands of researchers, funded by groups and private genealogists around the world.
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