Czech Republic Church Books (FamilySearch Historical Records)
|This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.|
Access the records: Czech Republic Church Books, 1552-1905 .
Title in the Language of the Records
Tschechische Republik, Kirchenbücher 1552-1935
Česká Republika Církevní Knihy 1552-1935
This Collection will include records from 1552 to 1948.
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 has 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.
Citation for This Collection
The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in FamilySearch.org Historical Record collections. Sources include the author, custodian, publisher and archive for the original records.
- Parishes in the Czech Republic. Czech Republic Church Books, State Regional Archives in the Czech Republic.
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The key genealogical facts found in the Baptismal entries include the following information:
- Date and place child born and baptised
- Child's name
- Gender of child
- Parents' names, occupation and place of residence
- Parents' legitimacy
- Grandparents' names, occupation and place of residence
The key genealogical facts found in the Marriage entries include 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
The key genealogical facts found in the Burial entries may include 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 to Use the Record
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.
Known Issues with This Collection
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