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Going Home: A Guide to Polish American Family History Research

Vital Records - Microfilms
From the Family History Library and
Family History Centers


When you are using the microfilms of the Family History Library, either onsite at the main library in Salt Lake City, Utah, or if you rent the film at your local Family History Center, you should understand how the material is organized.

Each film will have several books, or subjects, broken up into chapters, or "items".  One film could have birth records from one parish, marriage records from another village, and yet census records from a third village.  The Family History Library Catalog, found at, will list all of the "items" on a particular film.  For more information on the Family History Library and its microfilms, visit my webpage


The items are broken up by title pages that clearly mark the "item".  However, when using the microfilms of vital records filmed at the Central State Historical Archive of Ukraine, city of Lviv/Lwów, you'll find these title pages written in Ukrainian and/or Russian.  A little knowledge of the layout (along with some Ukrainian and/or Russian, too!) can help you navigate through the massive film collection with ease.



This example below shows ITEM NUMBER 2 on the microfilm.  You can see it's number 2 with the large 2 in the lower right.

The left hand side includes technical information of the filming.  But the right hand side contains the most important information, including the place name, type of documents, and date span.

Microfilmed for the genealogical society, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
CSH (Central State Historical) Archive Lvov, Ukraine
Place of manuscript
Lvov, Ukraine

city of Bilyi Kamin
county Zolochiv


Photo operator: 1064          Reduction at

Dement'eva, Natalia            13.3

Date of microfilming             Regulation of exposure indicator

28 July 2005                       30.5
Title of manuscript
Metric books
1878 - 1890
Emulsion number for film     Series number of the camera

2446 0214001 01              MSD-2-4318
Key on the microfilm

F (Fond): 618
O (Opys): 2
T (Tom): 2295
Project number                   Spool number

Ukrn Lvov 1                       1154


Additional Notes:

Metrical books <in Ukrainian as Метрична книга (Metrychna knyha), or in Russian as Метрическaя книгa (Metricheskaia kniga)> usually means a set of birth/baptismal, marriage and death records.

If the records were only marriage ones, it would include the word "Marriages".

English Ukrainian Russian
Metrical book Метрична книга

(Metrychna knyha)
Метрическaя книгa

(Metricheskaia kniga)
Metrical books Метричні кніги

(Metrychni knihy)
Метрические книги

(Metricheskie knigi)
(aka Baptisms)


Marriages Одруження


Deaths Смерті


Original (as opposed to the "Bishop's Copy") Орігінал


Copy (as in "Bishop's Copy") Копія  (plural: Копії)

(Kopia)  (Kopii)
Копия     (plural:  Копии)

(Kopia)   (Kopii)


Catalog numbering in Ukrainian archives

Material in archives are broken down into groups and subgroups.  In the Ukrainian archival system, the largest unit (Record Group) is the Fond.  A subgroup (Series) is Opys.  And the next sub-grouping (File), in terms of our vital records the individual parish book/vital records registry, is the Sprava.

Sprava can also be listed as Tom (or "Volume").  In Russian this level is usually called Delo.


For the large collection of vital records housed at the Central State Historical Archives of Ukraine-city of Lviv/Lwów, the collections are cataloged thusly:

Roman Catholic parish registers: Fond 618, Opys 2.  (Then each individual book is a different Sprava, or Tom)

Greek Catholic parish registers: Fond 201, Opys 4a.  (Then each individual book is a different Sprava, or Tom)


English Ukrainian Russian
Record Group Фонд


Series Опись


File Справа     Том

(Sprava)  or  (Tom)

Page Аркуш






The next page that you may find, as part of the title page or coversheet, looks like this.  It contains some more information on the item.

<in Ukrainian>

Central State Historical Archive of Ukraine,
city of Lviv

For the information file no. 2295
of Fond no. 618                                     of Opys no. 2
numbering: 224
two hundred twenty-four pages

of which ____________________are back-sided

letters: ______________________

missing: _____________________

Enclosures ___________________

Pamphlets, newspapers: _________

Graphic materials: ______________

Other special features of the documents:

Stamped pages: _______________

Pages with seals: ______________

Documents with faded text: _______

27-May-2004                           Signature _________

Preparation of file for microfilming
(that is done and instructions of the operator)

Date:                                                 Signature




Another title page you may find would be the title page from the original file.  This would be the archive's title page found at the beginning of the parish register or file, created at the time of the initial cataloging.  It is usually in Ukrainian or Polish.

<in Ukrainian>


Roman Catholic Metropolitan
Consistory.    city of Lviv





Metrical book

Roman Catholic church, city of Bilyi Kamin, county of Zolochiv








TsDIA of Ukraine, city of Lviv          Beginning: 1878
(abbr. = Central State Historical Archive)

Fond No.: 618                                  Ending: 1890

Opys No.: 2

Od zb. No.: 2245                              In 224 pages




The filmmakers often included additional pages with notes and comments, such as the following:

And finally, the reality of research in Ukraine is evidenced by the following page I found scanned on the film from the Zakarpatskyi (Subcarpathian) Archives in Uzhhorod:            Questions and Comments to Matthew Bielawa
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