Hungary Jewish Records

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For more information see: Jewish Genealogy Research Main Page.

Online Resources

"Hungary" Disambiguation

Hungary may refer to:

United States census records and arriving passenger lists often simply list the place of birth or origin as "Hungary" or "Austria" meaning the Kingdom of Hungary or Austria-Hungary. Careful research is needed to pinpoint the province and city/town.

To view a map showing the Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary with the associated provinces, click here.

Jewish Research resources on the FamilySearch Wiki are organized primarily by the present-day country, and not by the former designations. If possible, determine the city/town of origin and then search under its present-day country.

History

To learn more about the history of Jews in Eastern Europe (including Hungary) see: The YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe.

Record Types

Jewish Registers [Zsidó anyakönyvek es okmányok]

Jewish Records refer to records about Jews (non-vital) and records of Jewish births, marriages, deaths, and conscription books (vital). Non-vital Jewish records were created as Jewish communities kept account books, bought property, or had dealings with rulers and local governments. Vital registers establish individual identity and are excellent for family and relationship linkage. They identify names of parents, prove other relationships, and are very useful for linking generations.Jews in Hungary generally did not keep vital records unless required to do so by law. Beginning in 1788 Jews were required to keep records of births, marriages and deaths in German under Catholic supervision. Because these records were required for conscription and taxation purposes, Jews often evaded registration. The law was reemphasized several times during the early 1800s. Most Jewish communities did not actually start keeping records until the practice was again codified into law in 1840. In 1885 the Hungarian Royal Ministry of Cults required that Jewish vital births, marriages, and deaths be recorded in vital registers which included several congregations in a subdistrict rather than in registers of each individual congregation. Exceptions were allowed when individual congregations paid to have their own registrar. With the beginning of civil registration in 1895 Jewish registers ceased to be official state documents.

Written evidence proves the existence of Jews in Hungary in the tenth century though they likely were present as early as Roman times. Until the 1700s they were regularly expelled from the Hungarian Kingdom, but were always allowed to come back again. Their legal status was determined by specific royal decrees. Hungary experienced a great influx of Jews from Poland and Russia in the early 1800s, many of whom settled in the northern Hungarian counties. In 1781 the Emperor Joseph II issued the Toleration Patent which recognized Judaism and Protestantism throughout the empire. This began the gradual process of Jewish emancipation. Jews did not use fixed surnames until 1788 when another patent required them to adopt and use German surnames. In the mid 1800s a Jewish prefect was established. He represented the Jews before the Hungarian royal administration and was responsible for the regular collection of the Jewish tax. The Jews had to pay extra taxes for their protection. After 1840 Jews were allowed to settle in the whole territory of Hungary (with the exception of mining towns). In December of 1867 Hungarian law recognized the Jews as fully equal in both civilian and economic life. Most of Hungary’s Jews were forced out or murdered during the Nazi Holocaust.

Records pertaining to Jews and Jewish congregations exist from the 1500s. Some Jewish vital records exist from 1788 but most do not start until 1840. Jewish congregations continued to maintain registers into the 1920s or even later. These records continue into the 1940s when most Jewish congregations were destroyed in the Holocaust. Vital records of Jews are in county archives under direction of the National Archives of Hungary [Országos Leveltár] in Budapest. Non-vital Jewish records are found in county archives as well as district and city archives. Many of these records are now available online, although some are only accessible by correspondence to to archives.

Non-vital records are generally contain information about royal dealings with specific Jews; also information about Jewish congregations, rabbis, names of members of the congregation; and economic activities. Vital records are birth, marriage, and death records. Births - name; sex; date and place of birth; parents’ names (sometimes grandparents) with occupation, age and residence; names of witnesses. For males the date of circumcision is given. Marriages - names of groom and bride, date and place of marriage, age, place of birth, residence, previous marital status, occupation, often parents’ names for both groom and bride; names of witnesses. Deaths - name of the deceased, date and place of death, cause of death, residence, age, occupation, marital status, spouses’ name, often birthplace of the deceased. Conscription books - Lists of names of those members of the congregation eligible for conscription as of a specific date with birth date and residence.

To find the records:

1828 Hungarian Census

Several censuses were taken in Hungary in the 18th and 19th centuries. Some enumerations dealt specifically with Jews (1725-1775, 1848). The Hungarian census of 1828 is of considerable interest and importance, although it supplies limited family information. The census covered all of the old Hungary. Under each town or village, it lists all heads of families or occupiers of land.

To find the records:

1848 Jewish Census

In early 1848 Hungarian government ordered a special census of all Jews. The 1848 Jewish census has not survived for all Hungarian counties. These records supply the name of the head of household, wife's maiden name and names of children, together with ages and places of birth, professions and length of time an immigrant had been in Hungary or in his 1848 place of residence.

Number of Jewish registers include Konskription, which meant census or enrollment. They are similar to the 1848 census but give actual dates of birth instead of age.

To find the records:

Other Censuses

Hungarian Jews can also be found in the other censuses taken by Hungary.

To find the records:

Civil Registration

Civil registration. Jewish records for modern-day Hungary are available for most of the 19th century to 1895 or later.

To find the records:

Taxation

Taxation records, for the purpose of the imposition on Jews of the so-called Toleration Tax, give the name of the head of the household together with the number of members of the househol in various categories and the amont of tax assessed.

Some taxation records are available on the FamilySearch Catalog.

The JewishGen Hungary Database

  • More than 360,000 records for Austria and the Czech Republic, from a variety of sources, including: cemetery data, Yizkor books, and Holocaust sources. Requires free registration. To search, click here.

Helpful Websites

Maps of Hungary

  • To view the present-day Hungary at Google Maps, click here.
  • For a Jewish population density map of Europe in 1900, click here.

Gazetteers of Hungary

  • Use the JewishGen Communities Database by clicking here.
  • Use the Hungarian Village Finder available from the Family History Library desktop:
    • Select Databases at the Family History Library.
    • Scroll down the page to the 14th CD Title.
    • Click on the Hungarian Village Finder, Atlas, and Gazetteer link.
    • At the detail level, this database identifies the location of Jewish congregations associated with the various cities and villages.

Additional Reading

For more information on this topic see an excellent article Researching Jewish Family History in Croatia, Slavonia and Hungary by Malcolm Scott Hardy published in AVOTAYNU (Volume XVII, Number 3, Fall 2001).