Czech Republic Church Books (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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Access the records: Czech Republic, Church Books, 1552-1948 .
Title in the Language of the Records
Tschechische Republik, Kirchenbücher 1552-1948
Česká Republika Církevní Knihy 1552-1948
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.
- "Czech Republic, Church Books, 1552-1948." Index and Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2013. Citing Statni Oblastni Archiv v Litoměřice.
These baptismal records usually contain 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
These 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
These 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 to Use the Record
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 this collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒ Select the "Browse" link in the initial search page
⇒ Select the "Religion (Náboženství)" category
⇒ Select the "District (Okres)" category
⇒ Select the "Place (Místo)" category
⇒ Select the "Event/Years/Vol. (Událost/Roky/Inv. číslo)" category which takes you to the images
Look at the images one by one 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.
Known Issues with This Collection
For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached Wiki article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.
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Contributions to This Article
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Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections
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A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the wiki article Help:How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.
Citation Example for a Record Found in This Collection
|This citation example isn't from this collection. You can help by replacing this example with a citation for a record found in this collection.|
Example for a Browsed Collection: “Argentina, Buenos Aires, Catholic Church Records, 1635-1981,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org: accessed 28 February, 2012), La Plata > San Ponciano > Matrimonios 1884-1886 > image 71 of 389 images, Artemio Avendano and Clementina Peralta, 1884; citing Parroquia de San Ponciano en la Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Matrimonios. San Ponciano, La Plata, Buenos Aires.
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