Bosnia and Herzegovina Census

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Bosnia and Herzegovina

Census Records

Research use: Quickly identifies family groups.

Record type: Population enumerations compiled by the government.

General: Censuses were conducted in connection with Ottoman population registers (see para 4.5) until 1878 when Bosnia came under the control of Austro-Hungary. The first modern censuses were conducted under Austro-Hungarian rule in 1895 and 1910. Yugoslavian censuses covering Bosnia began in 1921.

Time period: 1895-present.

Contents: Most likely head of household, social status, names of family members, their ages, family relationships, residence; other details may vary.

Location: Unknown but probably in the national archive if they have been preserved. Yugoslavian census returns are most like to be in Beograd, though there might be a local copy in Sarajevo.

Population coverage: 90-95% coverage of the population.[1]

Ottoman Population Registers

Research use: Quickly identify the male portion of families. Their value is somewhat limited because they are written in Ottoman Turkish which is archaic and difficult to read.

Record type: Registration of birth, marriage, and death; census reports of males and, in later years, of all family members.

General: Population registers and census returns were introduced concurrently in 1829-1831. The registers and census returns were kept by officials at the kaza (district) level. Administrative divisions in 1831 were substantially altered in 1864-1871. The reason for population registration was to levy taxes on non-Muslims and to identify Muslims for conscription. Only males were registered.

Time period: 1831-1878.

Contents: The registers for Muslims included the name, birth year, birth date of those moving in from elsewhere, height, complexion, eye color, date of death or departure if moved, and other dates with regard to military service. It is assumed the military information is missing for non-Muslims.

Location: Unknown but a local copy may exist in the national archive. Some may be in the Ottoman Archives at the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, Turkey.

Population coverage: There was under-reporting in the census returns caused by the isolation of some groups, difficulties in communication with some areas, and the resistance of some groups to being registered. The Muslim population was undercounted more often than the Christian population because Christians were sedentary, compactly settled, and easily accessible. Population registers functioned well until 1853 and the Crimean War. They were neglected until the 1860s when they were revived.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 The Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Family History Record Profile: Bosnia,” Word document, private files of the FamilySearch Content Strategy Team, 1999.