When genealogists enter the names of the locations where events in their ancestors’ lives occurred, they are faced with the dilemma of how to enter place names so as to unambiguously identify the locations in both space and time.
On 09 June 1815, the Kingdom of Poland was established by the Congress of Vienna from the lands formerly known as the Duchy of Warsaw.
The Duchy of Warsaw had been split into several different types of administrative divisions including departments (singular departament, plural departamenty) which were subdivided into powiats (districts) (singular powiat, plural powiaty) which, in turn, were subdivided into gminas (townships) (singular gmina, plural gminy). These same divisions were used during the first year after the formation of the Kingdom of Poland, although only eight of the ten departments of the Duchy of Warsaw were incorporated into the Kingdom of Poland. The remaining two departments (Bydgoszcz and Poznań) had been returned to Prussia by the Congress of Vienna. The departments that were incorporated into the Kingdom of Poland were:
Departament kaliski (Kalisz Department)
Departament krakowski (Kraków Department)
Departament łomżyński (Łomża Department)
Departament lubelski (Lublin Department)
Departament płocki (Płock Department)
Departament radomski (Radom Department)
Departament siedlecki (Siedlce Department)
Departament warszawski (Warsaw Department)
Genealogists may specify a place name in the Kingdom of Poland from 09 June 1815 to 16 January 1816 as follows:
name of city or village, powiat, department, nation
Krasne, Przasnysz Powiat, Płock Department, Kingdom of Poland
or, if one prefers to write the place name in Polish:
Krasne, powiat przasnyski, departament płocki, Królestwo Polskie
The Kingdom of Poland was also known informally as Congress Poland (Kongresówka). In my own records, I call the nation established by the Congress of Vienna the “Congress Kingdom of Poland” in order to differentiate this nation from the Kingdom of Poland that existed from 1025-1569 and the Kingdom of Poland proposed as a puppet state by the German Empire and Austrian Empire from 1916-1918.
From a practical standpoint, one need not include the name of the Gmina, since the Gminas are seldom required in order to precisely identify the location of a village.
Although the former Duchy of Warsaw departments of Bydgoszcz and Poznań had been returned to Prussia by the Congress of Vienna, the administrative structure of the eight remaining departments of the Duchy of Warsaw were largely preserved in the structure of the Kingdom of Poland from 1815-1816. To convert the name of a village in one of the eight remaining departments of the Duchy of Warsaw to the name in the Kingdom of Poland (1815-1816), simply change “Duchy of Warsaw” to “Kingdom of Poland”.
To directly learn the names of the Powiat and Department to which a village belonged, the researcher should consult the civil registrations recorded in the corresponding parish during the 1808-1816 time period. Most civil registrars of the time included the names of the Gmina, Powiat, and Department directly in the records.
Other articles in this series:
Copyright © 2010 by Stephen J. Danko