Czech Republic Church Books (FamilySearch Historical Records)
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Czech Republic, Church Books, 1552-1963 .
|This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.|
|Flag of the Czech Republic|
|Record Type:||Church Records|
|Title in the Languages:||Česká Republika Církevní Knihy (Czech), Tschechische Republik, Kirchenbücher (German)|
What is in the Collection?
This collection will include records from 1552 to 1963.
Entries are usually arranged in chronological order and, after 1784, in a columnar format. During certain times, one book was used to list all the baptisms, marriages, and burials for all the villages in a parish for one year. At other times each village had its own section of baptisms, marriages, and burials, which were listed chronologically. Some records are on preprinted forms, and most records include indexes.
Czech church records are usually in one of three languages: Czech, German, or Latin. Often one parish consists of books written in all three. Records from one state regional archive (statní oblastní archive) may favor one or more languages. For example, records from Litoměřice are usually written in German or Latin. Records from Plzeň or Třeboň are usually written in Czech, German, and Latin equally.
A filmed security copy of each book is stored at each state regional archive, but because of poor film quality, some of these are unusable for research. Books from the early 1900s (even though they may have been started earlier) are still stored in local city halls or other institutions. The Family History Library does not have filmed copies of the books, but did begin capturing the images digitally in 2007.
For a list of records by religion currently published in this collection, select the Browse link from the collection landing page.
The edict of the Council of Trent in 1563, which mandated the creation of church books, applied to Czech congregations. Austrian Emperor Joseph II issued the Edict of Toleration on October 13, 1781, which allowed Protestants, Jews, and others to keep their own church records under the supervision of the Catholic Church. Though the Protestants were allowed to keep registers starting in 1771, they were copied into Catholic registers. In 1781, Protestants continued to keep registers under Catholic supervision.
Starting February 10, 1784, Joseph II required that all church birth entries include the full names of both parents and all grandparents, along with their towns of origin and their military conscription numbers or unique address, such as Plichtice č. 5 (č is an abbreviation for čislo, or "number"). The emperor also required that records be kept in Latin or German, though Czech was often used. Column headings, which had started around 1784 (sometimes earlier), became mandatory.
In 1790, the Austrian government (under which Czech records were kept) created a law requiring indexes to be kept. In 1802, another law was passed requiring all older matriky (church books) to be indexed. Only rarely are volumes not indexed.
Starting in 1869, the civil authorities took charge of the record-keeping of births, marriages, and deaths. However, individual churches continued to actually record these events. The official legal copy was kept by local officials when many of the clergy refused to perform Catholic rites for non-Catholics. Everyone was registered under this new system, not just those appearing in Catholic or Protestant registers.
The church books cover a majority of the population.
The earliest Czech book was created in 1441 (a book of christenings from Horní Jiřetín). Books have been kept to the present, but because of privacy laws, they are available for research only through 1905.
Baptismal records usually contain the following information:
- Date and place child born and baptized
- Child's name
- Gender of child
- Parents' names, occupation and place of residence
- Parents' legitimacy
- Grandparents' names, occupation and place of residence
Marriage records usually contain the following information:
- Date and place of marriage and by whom married
- Name of groom
- Groom's age, occupation, civil status and residence
- Groom's birth date and baptismal date
- Groom's legitimacy
- Groom's parents' names and residence
- Name of bride
- Bride's age, civil status and residence
- Bride's birth date and baptismal date
- Bride's legitimacy
- Bride's parents' names and residence
- Names of witnesses
Burial records usually contain the following information:
- Date, place and time of death
- Name and occupation of deceased
- Gender, age, and religion of deceased
- Birth date of deceased
- Cause of death
- Burial place
How Do I Search the Collection?
To search this collection using the index:
Fill in the requested information in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the ancestors in the list to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to find your ancestor.
Be aware there may be inaccuracies such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned.
To browse the images in this collection, you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒ Select the "Browse" link in the initial search page
⇒ Select the "Religion"
⇒ Select the "District"
⇒ Select the "Place: Subordinate Places"
⇒ Select the "Event, Years, vol. which takes you to the images
Search the collection by image, comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine which one is your ancestor. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to make this determination.
If indexes are available, check these for the name first. Indexes are usually located at the beginning of a group of images or at the end. They can also be found in individual folders. Find your ancestor's name and look for the locator information next to the name (such as page, entry, or certificate number). This will help you find the record you are looking for in the collection.
Czech church books are the best source for identifying ancestors from the Czech Republic. So many relatives are listed in these books that you may be able to create a miniature pedigree chart for almost each entry in a church book.
For Help Reading These Records
These records are in Czech, German or Latin. For help reading the records, see the following wiki articles:
- Czech Republic Genealogical Word List
- Czech Republic Language and Languages
- German Word List
- Latin Genealogical Word List
|FHL Place Czech Republic items or FHL Keyword Czech Republic items in the FamilySearch Library Catalog. For other libraries (local and national) or to gain access to items of interest, see Czech Republic Archives and Libraries.|
Known Issues with This Collection
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How You Can Contribute
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Citing this Collection
Citing your sources makes it easy for others to find and evaluate the records you used. When you copy information from a record, list where you found that information. Here you can find citations already created for the entire collection and for each individual record or image.
- "Czech Republic, Church Books, 1552-1963." Database with Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2016. Oblastni Archiv, česká republika (regional archives, Czech Republic).
Record Citation (or citation for the index entry):
|The citation for a record is available with each record in this collection, at the bottom of the record screen. You can search records in this collection by visiting the search page for Czech Republic, Church Books, 1552-1963.|
|The image citation is available by clicking on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Czech Republic, Church Books, 1552-1963.|