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Was My Ancestor Rich or Poor: What We Can Find from Polish Business Court Records?

Sunday, May 19, 2024, 02:00pm - 05:00pm

Speakers: Anna Wiernicka; Hadassah Lipsius

Polish business court records began in 1916 and continued into the 1940’s. From 1915 until November 1918 Poland was under Prussian rule, which began with the appointment of a governor – Hans Hartwig von Beseler. One of his decrees issued in August 1916 required residents to register every business activity. Those commercial and industrial enterprises under his rule, both small, single person and larger enterprises, were subject to taxation. Poland attained independence in 1918, and the new head of state, Józef Piłsudski, decreed in February 1919 the establishment of a Commercial Register, thus continuing the requirement for business registration. 

The business court records, maintained by the Polish State Archive, are the subject of this lecture. The collection includes files of various kinds of enterprises: small one-person companies and limited partnership businesses.   Hidden with the files are the owners and their family’s civil (vital) records, prenuptial agreements, wills and other notary documents. The contents of the files provide a taste of economic life between the world wars and allow us to build a richer history of our families.



Anna Wiernicka holds an M.A. in history from Warsaw University and a Ph.D. in history from Bydgoszcz University. Her past affiliations include the Polish Academy of Science and the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw. She has more than 20 years of experience as a genealogical researcher, serving individuals and families, as well as handling complex cases for professional clients. 

Anna regularly speaks on genealogical and historical topics at international and Polish conferences and publishes the results of her research. Her memberships include the Association of Polish Professional Genealogists, the Warsaw Genealogical Society, and the Association of Professional Genealogists (USA). More information on Anna is available at

Hadassah Lipsius is a member of the Executive Council of the Jewish Genealogical Society, Inc. (JGSNY) and the 2020 recipient of the IAJGS Lifetime Achievement Award. She was co-chair of the 26th (2006) and 42nd (2022) IAJGS conferences and the Program Chair in 2021 and 2022.  She is a board and executive committee member of Jewish Records Indexing-Poland. Hadassah has lectured on Polish research at numerous IAJGS conferences and has collaborated with Dr. Anna Wiernicka on several research projects.

Location : Zoom

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