Slovakia Church Records
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Church Registers [Cirkevné Matriky]
Church Records refer to the records of births/christenings, marriages, and deaths/burials recorded by clergy. Catholic parishes in Europe were first required to record baptisms and marriages in 1563 by order of the Council of Trent. The requirement to record deaths was introduced in 1614. It took several years before the practice was established in all nations. The earliest register from Slovakia (Košice) starts in 1587. Few Catholic registers date from the early and mid 1600s, but most registers date from the early 1700s. Protestant churches usually did not begin to maintain parish registers until the late 1600s. In 1730, Catholic priests were ordered to record Protestants in their books. Nevertheless, typically Protestant books continued to be maintained. A new format for the records was introduced in 1771. In 1781 the Emperor Joseph II issued the Toleration Patent which recognized Protestantism and Judaism throughout the empire. After 1784 the Emperor Joseph II declared church registers to be official state records. (It was necessary for the state to keep track of male births for conscription purposes). Protestants were officially required to maintain parish registers under Catholic supervision. Imperial law also required that the parish registers record births, deaths and marriages separately for each village in the parish. In Slovakia, Protestants were authorized in 1787 to keep their registers independent of Catholic control.
At the Peace of Linz in 1645, Hungary successfully forced the ruling Habsburgs to recognize four religions: Catholicism, Lutheranism, Calvinism, and Unitarianism. The ethnic Ruthene (Ukrainian) population of Slovakia was Orthodox, using the Slavonic liturgy and ritual. This faith was not recognized by the Hapsburg government. To gain legal status and its accompanying freedoms and benefits, the Orthodox Ruthenians agreed in 1649 to recognize the jurisdiction of the pope. The resulting church, in union with the Roman-Catholic Church, was called Greek-Catholic.
- Christening registers – infant's name, name and surname of father and mother, christening date (most also give the birth date); sometimes names of grandparents; names of godparents.
- Marriage registers – names of groom and bride, date of marriage, often include ages, residences, occupations, previous marital status, names of parents, sometimes the birthplace; names of witnesses.
- Burial registers–name of the deceased, date and place of death and burial, residence; sometimes cause of death, names of survivors, occasionally the date and place of birth.
Location: In December of 1949, all church vital records were declared state property. In 1952 the state began centralizing all these records into state archives štátné archívy. In many cases records as late as the 1940s have been placed in state regional archives. Registers more recent than those in the state archives are still at local city or subdistrict registration offices matričné úrady.
Research Use: These records are the prime source for information about the vital events in an individual's life. This information can be used to compile pedigrees and family groups. They identify children, spouses, parents, and often grandparents as well as dates and places of vital events. They establish individual identity and are excellent sources for linking generations and identifying relationships.
Accessibility: The Genealogical Society of Utah has been microfilming Slovak archive vital records since 1991. Although the microfilming is not complete (Bratislava, the last archive, is currently being filmed), most of the films are now available through the Family History Library. Slovak church registers are also accessible to those who hire a private researcher to visit the archives for them or who can visit the archives in Slovakia themselves and research the records in person.Church Records Headings in Slovak with English Translation
A wiki article describing this collection is found at:
- The Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Family History Record Profile: Slovakia,” Word document, private files of the FamilySearch Content Strategy Team, 1991-1999.