Prague (Praha) Regional Archives, Czech Republic Church Records
Praha (Prague) Regional Archive is in the process of digitizing parish registers (church records) and making them available online through the digital archive. To use these archives you need these skills:
- 1. An understanding of what to look for in parish registers.
- 2. How to navigate the archives to find the records of the parish you want.
- 3. The ability to read a few Czech, German, or Latin words that are found in the records. You do not have to be fluent in any of these languages!
- 4. A planned strategy for finding all the members of a family.
Parish Registers and the Information They Contain
Parish registers contain baptism (birth), marriage, and burial (death) information and are definitely the best source for identifying one’s relatives in the Czech Republic.
Sometimes, baptisms, marriages, and burials are kept for all villages in a parish, for each year. Other times, each village has its own section of baptisms, marriages, and burials, listed chronologically. Some records are in preprinted forms. Most records include indexes. While the books have been kept to the present, they are only available for research through about 1910 because of privacy laws. The parish registers cover a majority of the population.
Important details that will help identify your ancestors:
Baptismal entries usually contain the following: names of the child, parents, godparents, and sometimes grandparents; date and place of birth and baptism; residence and religion of the parents; whether the child was legitimate or illegitimate.
Marriage entries usually contain the following: names of the bride, groom, their parents, witnesses, and sometimes grandparents; date and place of marriage; residence and religion of the bride and groom; age, previous marital status, and occupation of bride and groom.
Burial entries usually contain the following: names of the deceased and spouse/parents; date and place of death and burial; residence and religion of the deceased; age and cause of death of the deceased.
- 1. Go to: eBadatelna, State Regional Archives in Prague
- 2. In the upper right corner, select "English".
- 3. Click on "Search."
- 4. Enter the location. You can also enter just the first letter to get a list for all the parishes beginning with the letter. Click "Search".
- 5. A listing of records, in English, and quite user-friendly, will appear. It looks like this:
- 6. Read through the descriptions to find the record you need. Clicking on "Switch to a Compact Table", a button on the left, will give you a simpler, abbreviated table.
- 7. On the far right, click on the number in the "Scans" column, and your images will appear for browsing.
Reading the Records
Reading the records will be easier than you might think! Parish registers use only a few basic terms in any language, such as: father, mother, son, daughter, born, baptized, married, died. Personal and place names don't need to be translated, and dates often look very similar to English. More recent records are in columns, and by translating the column title, one can then easily read the pages. The basic vocabulary can be memorized for easy recognition, and other terms, such as occupations and relationships can be quickly translated, by consulting a genealogical word list.
Czech was not recognized as an official language until 1877 in Bohemia and 1905 in Moravia. Except for modern records of the 1900s, records in the Czech Republic were written mostly in Latin and German. These materials for learning to read German, Latin, and old Gothic script will be helpful in preparing you to read Czech church records.
- German Handwriting (article)
- Online interactive slideshow lessons:
- 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):*Key Words and Phrases in Latin Records
Building a Family Record with a Search Strategy
Many articles on strategy are available on the Wiki, but here is a simple set of steps to guide you
- Search for the relative or ancestor you selected. When you find his birth/baptism/christening record, then 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, and even the names of their 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.