Sources for researching

Church registers

The main sources for researching are Church registers. They contain vital data of persons: birth (baptism), wedding, death (burial). The earliest church registers usually start in the 1680’s (for some areas sooner, for others later). Searching in more recent registers (less than 100 years), could be a problem, because of legislation called the Personal Data Act. Time for researching depends on quality of data, and on various facts (whether the family lived at the same place for several generations, or whether they moved from another place). The quality of data depends on the time period. Data recorded in 19th Century brings a lot of useful information. For example, birth records show dates of birth and baptism, name of the newborn baptized child, its gender, denomination, place of birth (includes number of the house), name of father (also his occupation, origin, names of his parents), name of mother (also her origin, names of her parents), names and occupation of godparents, name of the priest, name of midwife. Researching is easier, thanks to the alphabetical indexes frequently used in the 19th century. Older records usually contain only basic facts about parents (first name and last name of father, first name of mother). Alphabetical indexes were rare in older times. Prior to the 1770’s, house numbering had not began, and in the case where in one community lived several families with the same last name, it makes researching more difficult and time consuming, requiring comparative methods to identify the subject. The oldest church registers are usually written in Latin. By the 1780’s, they were required to be written in German. In Czech speaking areas, Czech written records appeared by the 1860’s. For my English speaking clients, I translate all the records to English. Church registers are stored in Regional Archives. Parts of the records are available online, some parts of church registers are available to study in the archives only. It is important to remember that German written records are recorded in an ancient German handwritten script and require specialized skills to translate.
Church records

Census registers

Census registers are stored in the District Archives. Census records were made for each house and were sorted by the number of the house. Information in census records consisted of the names of the inhabitants, their dates of birth, religion (denomination), native language, occupation, literacy etc. They recorded all persons living in the house - not only the family of the householder but also laborers and maids serving in the house or farmstead. Persons belonging to the house but living temporarily in another place (men serving in the army) were mentioned in the records too but were scored out and not counted in the census for this address. Census records mentioned also include number and kinds of domestic animals held there, even the number of bee-houses. First census in Austro-Hungarian monarchy started in 1857, and later in 1869, 1880, 1890, 1900, and 1910. It continued in Czechoslovakia in 1921 for a 10 year period. The oldest census registers are written in German only, the later ones are bilingual or in Czech. In the 1870’s, the Austro-Hungarian Empire allowed the use of languages of their non-German inhabitants also in official documents. Also later, Czechoslovakia allowed non-Czech minorities to use their native language there.
census records

Land registers

Land registers are stored in the Regional Archives. Records described mainly the changes of the holders of farmsteads, houses and other “real property”. The records describe not only the succession of farmstead holders at that time but often also about their material relations and duties to the parents and siblings. The new holder had to pay to siblings their share and also to provide for the former holders, who were usually his parents. In the land registers are also written a lot of interesting facts about the prices of the properties (that were in different numbers and currency which changed during the times), numbers and kinds of domestic animals and fruit trees held by the farmstead holder, about their taxes, debts and inheritance, and about the obligations of the peasants to the landlords (known as drudgery). Land registers sometimes also referred to destroyed and deserted farmsteads as the consequences of wars or natural disasters. Another interesting fact that the land registers referred to was the problem of escaped peasants. It happened sometimes that the holder left his farmstead and escaped to another Domain. It was often for the debts but sometimes also for excessive obligations of drudgery or for confessional (religious) oppression. Land registers are written in Czech and German languages, but since the end of the 18th century, the records were written in German language even in Czech speaking areas.
Land records