Burgenland, Austria Genealogy
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Guide to Burgenland State ancestry, family history and genealogy: birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, parish registers, and military records.
- 1 History
- 2 For Burgenland-Specific Research, consult The Burgenland Bunch
- 3 For Austria Research, You Must Know Your Ancestors' Town
- 4 Research to Find the Town
- 5 If You Know the Town, Next Use the GenTeam Gazetteer
- 6 Online Records
- 7 Microfilm Copies of Records at a Family History Center
- 8 Writing for Records
- 9 Archives
- 10 Reading the Records
- 11 Search Strategy
The majority of the population was Germanic, except for the Hungarian border-guards of the frontier March. Germanic immigration from neighbouring Austria was also continuous in the Middle Ages.
In 1440 the territory of present-day Burgenland was controlled by the Habsburgs of Austria, but during the next 200 years different kings retook the area. In the 16th century, medieval Kingdom of Hungary lost its independence and its north-western part that was not conquered by the Ottoman Empire was included in the Habsburg Empire.
In the 16-17th centuries German Protestant refugees arrived in Western Royal Hungary to shelter from the religious wars of the Holy Roman Empire, particularly from the repression of the Reformation in Austrian territories, then ruled by the staunchly Roman Catholic Habsburgs. After the Habsburg military victory against the Ottomans at the end of the 17th century, the Habsburg Kingdom of Hungary was enlarged to include much of the territory of the former medieval Kingdom of Hungary. In the 17th and 18th centuries the region of Western Hungary was dominated by the wealthy Catholic landowning families. In 1867, the Habsburg Empire was transformed into the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary.
On 18 July 1922, the first elections for the parliament of Burgenland took place. Various interim arrangements were required due to the changeover from Hungarian to Austrian jurisdiction. The parliament decided in 1925 on Eisenstadt as the capital of Burgenland, and moved from the various provisional estates throughout the country to the newly built Landhaus in 1929.
In 1923, emigration to the United States of America, which started in the late 19th century, reached its climax; in some places up to a quarter of the population went overseas. After the Nazi German Anschluss of Austria, the administrative unit of Burgenland was dissolved. Northern and central Burgenland joined the district of Niederdonau while southern Burgenland joined Steiermark. The policy of Germanization also affected other minorities, especially Burgenland Croats and Hungarians. Minority schools were closed and the use of their native language discouraged. As of 1 October 1945 Burgenland was reestablished with Soviet support and given to the Soviet forces in exchange for Steiermark, which was in turn occupied by the United Kingdom. Under Soviet occupation, people in Burgenland had to endure a period of serious mistreatment and an extremely slow economic progression, the latter induced by the investor-discouraging presence of the Soviet troops. The Soviet occupation ended with the signing of the Austrian Independence Treaty of Vienna in 1955 by the Occupying Forces. The brutally crushed Hungarian Revolution on 23 October 1956 resulted in a shockwave of Hungarian refugees at the Hungarian-Austrian border, especially at the Bridge of Andau, who were received by the inhabitants of Burgenland with an overwhelming amount of hospitality. In 1957, the construction of the "anti-Fascist Protective Barrier" resulted in a complete bulkheading of the area under Soviet influence from the rest of the world, rendering the Hungarian-Austrian border next to Burgenland a deadly zone of minefields on the Hungarian border and barbed wire, referred to as the Iron Curtain.
For Burgenland-Specific Research, consult The Burgenland Bunch
The Burgenland Bunch (BB) is a free, online, volunteer-based genealogy and history group dedicated specifically to Burgenland and its nearby environs. It has an experienced volunteer staff that can help you navigate all the available resources, including those at FamilySearch, and point you in the right direction. In addition, there is an affiliated Facebook page where you can ask for advice and obtain assistance. The BB is in its 22nd year and is a community of about 2,600 Burgenland researchers.
- The BB Website is: www.the-burgenland-bunch.org
- The BB Facebook page is: www.facebook.com/groups/TheBurgenlandBunchOFFICIAL/
For Austria Research, You Must Know Your Ancestors' Town
- To begin using the records of Austria, just knowing that your family came from the country will not be enough. Records are kept on the local level, so you will have to know the town they lived in.
- Details about the town will also help:
- the county of that town,
- where the closest Evangelical Lutheran, Catholic, Greek Orthodox, etc. parish church was (depending on their religion),
- where the civil registration office was, and
- if you have only a village name, you will need the name of the larger town it was part of.
Research to Find the Town
If you do not yet know the name of the town of your ancestor's birth, there are well-known strategies for a thorough hunt for it.
- Use Gathering Information to Locate Place of Origin as a guide in exhausting every possible record to find what you need. It was written for Germany, but the same methods apply.
If You Know the Town, Next Use the GenTeam Gazetteer
GenTeam is an online gazetteer that covers the current countries of Austria, Czech Republic, and Slovenia (most of the area belonging to the Austro-Hungarian Empire). It gives former (German) and current names of locations, the name of the parish, the beginning year of the records, and the archive that holds the records. It will also give details on earlier parishes the locality belonged to. It then links to the website of that archive.
Microfilm Copies of Records at a Family History Center
If the locality and time period you need are not included in the online records, the next step is to check for them in the microfilm collection of the Family History Library. These microfilms may be ordered for viewing at Family History Centers around the world. To find a microfilm:
- a. Click on Places within Austria, Burgenland
- b. Select your record type: Church records and civil registration are the most important.
- b. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
- c. Choose the correct record type and time period for your ancestor.
- d. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the microfilm listed for the record. . The magnifying glass indicates that the microfilm is indexed. Clicking on the magnifying glass will take you to the index. Clicking on the camera will take you to an online digital copy of the microfilm.
Writing for Records
See German Letter Writing Guide for help and translations.
Civil registration, the government records of births, marriages, and deaths, began in Austria on 1 January 1939. The office that keeps these records is the Standesamt.
Diocesan Archives Eisenstadt (Catholic)
St. Rochus Street 21
A-7000 Eisenstadt, Austria
Tel .: 0043/2682 / 777-234
Fax: 0043/2682 / 777-252
Files of the Apostolic Administration Burgenland and of the Diocese of Eisenstadt since 1922; 117 Pfarrarchive (about 17th-19th century)
107 parishes (from the beginning until ca. 1820); Duplicates from 1922
Archive of the Evangelical Church in Austria (Lutheran)
Evangelical Church in Austria Church
Severin Schreiber-Gasse 3
Dept. of Matriculation, Archives, Library
A-1180 Vienna, Austria
Tel .: +43/1/4791523/519
Burgenlandisches Landesarchiv (State)
7000 Eisenstadt, Austria
Phone: 057-600 / 2358
Reading the Records
- It's easier than you think! You do not have to be fluent in French and German to use these records, as there is only a limited vocabulary used in them. By learning a few key phrases, you will be able to read them adequately. Here are some resources for learning to read German records.
- These video webinars will teach you to read German handwriting:
- Also online interactive slideshow lessons are available to help you learn to read these records:
- Reading German Handwritten Records Lesson 1: Kurrent Letters
- Reading German Handwritten Records Lesson 2: Making Words in Kurrent
- Reading German Handwritten Records Lesson 3: Reading Kurrent Documents. In this lesson, you will explore several types of German genealogical records, including birth, baptismal, marriage, and death records.
- German Script Tutorial
This converter will show you how any phrase or name might look in German script:
- Kurrentschrift Converter (enter German genealogical word, click on "convert", view your word in Kurrentschrift (Gothic handwriting)
Records of the Catholic church will usually be written in Latin:
- Search for the relative or ancestor you selected. When you find his birth record, search for the births of his brothers and sisters.
- Next, search for the marriage of his parents. The marriage record will have information that will often help you find the birth records of the parents.
- You can estimate the ages of the parents and determine a birth year to search for their birth records.
- Search the death registers for all known family members.
- Repeat this process for both the father and the mother, starting with their birth records, then their siblings' births, then their parents' marriages, and so on.
- If earlier generations (parents, grandparents, etc.) do not appear in the records, search neighboring parishes.