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Vital records

The basic genealogy resources include vital documents such as birth, marriage and death records.  In conducting research of family members with connections to Hungary, Austria and even parts of present day Romania as well as parts of former Yugoslavia - formerly Austro-Hungarian Empire - one needs to be sensitive to legislation which was enacted in 1895. Essentially, this legislation assured continuity of the state registry information from 1895 to the present. More info about the system of church records in Slovakia you may find here.

Vital records before 1895

Different churches and Jewish congregations recorded births, marriages and deaths in parish and/or synagogue registers. Slovak registers up to 1895 are stored in the Archives of Bratislava and seven State Archives. A Google map showing the locations of archives is here. These archives are open to the public. The records have been microfilmed and are available by the Family History Centres of the Latter-Day Saints (LDS) Church. The similar system is in Croatia, Czech Republic, Serbia, Romania and Ukraine. In Hungary the churches kept the historical records.

Vital records after 1895

In course of the major reform of the Civil Code in Hungary, since 1st October 1895 the system of civil (aka state) vital records was introduced. Since that time there exist two concurrent systems of civil and church and/or synagogue vital records.

Church records

Church records after appr. 1895 are kept by the parish offices or bishopric archives, however some records are kept also by the state archives. 

Civil vital records

According the registry law (Zákon NR SR č. 154/9 Z.z. o matrikách), when the last record in the registry volume becomes more than 100 years old, this volume is to be moved to archive. There are various problems with implementation of this article. In practice only the volumes 1895-1906 were moved to archives up to now (status in 2012). In difference to the church records, the civil vital records are kept by branch offices of state archives (pobočky štátnych archívov). Archived civil records are not subject of privacy protection law. These records (1895-1906) are a real treasure. Each record can be read like an exciting story. There is recorded the individual who reported the vital event (birth or death), the data about the child, groom, bride or deceased, their parents, recorded is also the place and hour of the birth/death and the records also included the signatures of the reporting individual (birth, death) and signatures of the groom and bride.

Civil records for at least 100 years are stored in the registrar's offices. Data of living persons has been imaged for ease of retrieval. Data of deceased individuals who died before the imaging scanning commenced are stored in books. These books are located in respective registrar's offices. Birth, marriage and death certificates are only available to relatives. In addition, relatives may gain further insight into their family background by studying remarks which appear in the register books. Note taking is permissible. Other persons (e.g. professional researchers) are required to have written authorization from corresponding relatives. Such authorization must be executed (written) in the official language.

Distinguished features of the Jewish vital records

In general the information above is valid also for records conducted by Jewish congregations, however there are some distinguished features:

  1. The Jewish congregations started to record the vital events in Latin alphabet only after 1848. Some congregations recorded about 1850 the previous births of the community members who were alive to the date. These birth data are based on memories and testimonies, thus the pre-1848 birth data are not accurate;
  2. Even after 1850 many births were not recorded at all. At end of the 19th century the government started to supervise how the religious communities do record vital events.  One precondition for the recording of the marriage was submission of the birth certificate, the people who where not recorded in the birth records had to prove their birth date and place by witnesses and after that their birth was recorded ex-post in the birth records in the annexes - these annexes are not organized according the birth date, but chronologically according date of the ex-post recording;
  3. After 1st October 1895, when the mandatory civil vital register was introduced, the government stopped the supervision of the Jewish vital records, since then the quality, accuracy and completeness of the Jewish vital records was drastically reduced (the same happened also for Christian churches, but not to such extent) some Jewish congregation even  returned back to Hebrew;
  4. During WWII the synagogue records were confiscated by Slovak and/or Hungarian state authorities. These records were not returned to the ownership of Jewish congregation after WWII. Most of them are now kept by Slovak State Archives, some were lost and some are kept by Hungarian Archives (present Slovak territories which were during WWII part of Hungary, like Lučenec). These archived Jewish records usually end about 1943-1944.

CentroConsult offers free lookups for location of the church, Jewish and state records

Other resources in Slovak archives

  • Plot records and urbarial files (e.g. files related to the first plot reform ordered by empress Maria Therezia)
  • Census data, the most detailed is the 1869 census, where the individual census sheets are available for some former Hungarian counties
  • Fiscal censuses (lists of taxpayers)
  • Jewish census conducted in 1848
  • "Nobilitaria" - files related to noble families

Online databases

Ellis Island immigration database is a valuable free tool for checking the origin of the immigrants. The other excellent tool is the 1891 Hungarian Trade and Industry Directory digitized by Janos Bogardi (Radix) and other online Radix databases, where some features are accessible free of charge. A supplementary online resource is also the 1900 Budapest directory. It is worthwhile to mention, that in 1910 in Budapest lived following ethnic nationalities of Hungarian Kingdom: Hungarians (756,000), Germans (78,000), Slovaks (20,000), Romanians (27,000), Croatians (3,000), Serbians (4,000), Czechs (15,000). In such sense, Budapest was in that time the largest "Slovak town" (Slovak population of Bratislava was only 11,600, Banska Bystrica 10,700 total, etc.).

The publishing house Arcanum started recently in cooperation with the Hungarian National Archives a project of online publishing of various archival funds online (only in Hungarian). CentroConsult developed with permission of Arcanum an unofficial guide in English.

For Slovak online databases click here.

Genealogy forums

There are may discussion boards and forums, where the researcher can post their queries and ask for help. Here are some of them:

Revision date 15th March 2012

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