Czech Republic Church Books (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Czech Republic

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Czech Republic, Church Books, 1552-1981
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Czech Republic
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Record Description
Record Type: Church Records
Collection years: 1552-1981
Languages: Czech, German
Title in the Language: Česká republika, Církevní knihy, 1552-1981 (Czech), Tschechische Republik, Kirchenbücher (German)
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What is in This Collection?

This collection will include records from 1552 to 1981.

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 had 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. 

Reading These Records

These records are written in Czech (a Slavic language) and German. For help reading the records see the following:

To Browse This Collection

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Czech Republic Church Books, 1552-1993.

What Can These Records Tell Me

The information in these records usually include the following:

Baptismal

  • Date and place child born and baptized
  • Child's name
  • Gender of child
  • Religion
  • Legitimacy
  • Parents' names, occupation and place of residence
  • Parents' legitimacy
  • Grandparents' names, occupation and place of residence

Marriage

  • 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

Burial

  • 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

Collection Content

Sample Images

How Do I Search This Collection?

Search the Index

Search by name by visiting the Collection Page.
  1. Fill in the search boxes on the Collection Page with the information you have
  2. Click Search to show possible matches

View the Images

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page:

  1. Select Religion
  2. Select District
  3. Select Place: Subordinate Places
  4. Select Event, Years, vol. to view the images.

How Do I Analyze the Results?

Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images. Keep track of your research in a research log.

What Do I Do Next?

I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?

  • Copy down all the information from the record. Save or print a copy of the image if possible
  • Cite the record. See below for help citing records in this collection
  • Use the marriage date and place as the basis for compiling a new family group or for verifying existing information
  • Use the birth date or age along with the place of birth of each spouse to find a couple's birth records and parents' names
  • Use the birth date or age along with the place of birth to find the family in census records
  • Use the residence and names of the parents to locate church and land records
  • Compile the marriage entries for every person who has the same surname as the bride or groom; this is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual
  • Continue to search the marriage records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives of the bride and groom who may have married in the same county or nearby. This can help you identify other generations of your family or even the second marriage of a parent. Repeat this process for each new generation you identify
  • When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct

I Can't Find the Person I'm Looking For, What Now?

  • Consult the Czech Republic Record Finder to find other records
  • Occupations listed can lead you to other types of records such as employment or military records
  • When looking for an individual with a common name, look at all the search results before deciding which is the correct person. Use other information, such as place of birth, age, occupation, or names of parents, to help with this decision
  • Try variations of given names and surnames. A person might have been listed under a middle name, nickname, or abbreviation of their given name
  • Vary the search terms. For example, expand the date range or search by either the given name or surname to return a broader list search results
  • Search the records of nearby locations

Record Finder

Consult the Czech Republic Record Finder Table to find other records

Known Issues With This Collection

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See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

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 support@familysearch.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.

Citing This Collection

Citations help you keep track of places you have searched and sources you have found. Identifying your sources helps others find the records you used.

Collection Citation
"Czech Republic, Church Books, 1552-1981." Database with images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : 27 March 2018. Státní oblastní archiv v Třeboňi (State Regional Archive of Trebon), Czech Republic.
Record Citation:
When looking at a record, the citation is found below the record.
Image Citation:
When looking at an image, the citation is found on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen.

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