Research in Greater Hungary

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Levente Pasztohy wrote the following.

Suggestions for research in greater Hungary.

Many people want to find out from where their ancestors have started their journey which has brought them, very often after tremendeous difficulties and often tragedies, to their present home.

In narrations passed on from grandparents to their children and grandchildren, often appears the name of Hungary as having been the ultimate aim. This may be true yet the final settlement of the ancestors may not lay in the small country in the middle of Europe as we know it today.

From the 18th century onwards many thousands of persons could no more endure life in their countries mostly for economic, sometimes for political and humane reasons and hoped to find better conditons of life in the middle of Europe, in „Hungary“ which was at that time part of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. This region of Europe was for one and a half century occupied by the Turks and the more was partly devastated by epidemic and climatic conditions.

Hungary and the ruling Habsburg dynasty were very much interested in calling in settlers from many parts of Europe. These people undertook the tiresome and perillous journey and set out for “Hungary“ as the region was then called all over Europe and it was there that generations of their descendants lived.

At the end of World War One however not only the Austro-Hungarian monarchy came to an end, but in the Treaty of Trianon waste territories of Hungary were detached from this country and allotted to the surrounding Yugoslavia, Romania, Czechoslovakia and even Austria. The descendants of the settlers of once must now direct their family research not only towards Hungary, but towards Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Slovakia and Zakarpatska Oblast in Ukraine.

Your research will be facilitated by the microfilms which The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have made in innumerable countries. From the FamilySearch Catalog on you must try to find the appropriate microfilms. From the stories heard from your ancestors you learned the names of the sites where these have settled down – or how these places were once called. You must find out however how these places are called now. My suggestion is to look up the following: where you will find the necessary instructions in the chapter “Use of microfilms“ and find the present day spelling of the site where your ancestors once settled down.

When the place is now situated in present day Hungary, you can make use of the FamilySearch Catalog to find the appropriate microfilm and request to send it to the family history center near to your home.

If you have found out that the site is now situated in present day Hungary, you may also contact from home the Hungarian National Achives which has received from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints a copy of the microfilms made in Hungarian parishes. The archives will give you all necessary information as to the address of the parishes. If you go to Hungary, you can consult the microfilms on place in the national archives, but the archive personnel cannot help you in your research.

The church registers in Hungary begin generally at the beginning of the 18th century and reach up to 1895 when state registers have been installed and were written mostly in Latin or Hungarian and sometimes in German.

When you have the possibility to visit Hungary and want to see the places where your ancestors have lived, you can also visit the corresponding parishes. From home you can make use of the services of the church archives on the internet: = Association of Hungarian Church Archivists or embracing all Catholic, Presbyterian, Lutheran church archives and those of the other confessions of Hungary from where you can obtain the necessary addresses. Copies of the church registers of the 19th century are generally kept in the archives of the counties (megyei levéltár) whereas the originals are mostly kept in the parishes.

If you find that the place of your ancestors' settlement is situated in one of the countries surrounding Hungary, you must direct your attention to Austria, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Romania, Slovakia and the Zakarpatska Oblast, part of Ukraine.

For Austria you must direct your search to Burgenland, to the Bischöfliches Ordinariat (episcopal authority) of Eisenstadt, where the originals of the parish registers are kept, whereas the duplicates are conserved by the parishes. Protestants are designated in the records as „a-Catholics“. The registers exist from 1700 onwards, older registers were destroyed during the Turkish invasion.

In Croatia you must get in touch with the nearest church or/and parish of your ancestors' settlement where old records are kept. In Croatia the oldest parish records preserved are those of Umag (1483), Labin (1536), Bale (1538) as well as of Dobrinj and Osor (1560) and can be found in the Archives of the Croatian Academy of Arts and Sciences in Zagreb. The historical Archives of Rijeka have a rich collection of parish records covering the period of 1560 to 1947. A list of all parish records is presented grouped in specific categories. Pay attention to the spelling of surnames, many surnames have been modified with time.

For large territories belonging today to Serbia,The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints filmed the duplicates of the church registers of the archbishopric of Kalocsa in Hungary, Szentháromság tér 1, H-6301 Kalocsa, whereas the originals are kept in the state registry offices in Serbia, the church registers of the district of Sombor being kept centrally in the registry office of the town of Sombor.

Both for Croatia and for Serbia – but also for parts of modern Hungary and the western regions of Romania– you might direct your attention to the fate of so-called Donauschwaben. You find the necessary information on the website: „Danube-Swabian – Donauschwaben,“ in English and German.

The „Arbeitskreis donauschwäbischer Familienforscher“ (= Circle of Danube-Swabian Genealogists) in Germany, Goldmühlestrasse 30, D-71065 Sindelfingen, as well as the „Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen“ (= Institute for Foreign Relations), Charlottenplatz 17, D-70173 Stuttgart, possess rich collections of parish registers, microfilms and copies of those registers as well as books related to the settlements of and to the origin of Donau-schwaben. Of immense value are the efforts of late Dr. Wilhelm Treude having filmed parish registers of 138 communities in the Banat up to the midst of the 19th century.

For those reading German, I can suggest to consult Stefan STADLER´S : Sammelwerk donauschwäbischer Kolonisten edited in Sindelfingen from 1997 onwards, compiling all available data on the settlers at the time of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy.

When your ancestors have settled down on the territory now belonging to Romania, you may find information on:
both in English and Hungarian, indicating also the addresses of the county archives. MELTE cited above has the addresses of three Catholic bishoprics situated now in Romania.

If you are of ethnic German origin, you might obtain help from the „Arbeitskreis für Siebenbürgische Landeskunde“ at Schloß Horneck, D 74831 Gundelsheim, Germany, a special section dealing with the history of migration, with the different ethnic and religious groups and also with the emigration from Romania, particularly at the beginnng of the 20th century, chiefly to the USA. From the territory of the Austro-Hungarian manarchy more than three million persons emigrated to America. If you read Hungarian, you may read the book of Julianna Puskás, entitled „Kivándorló magyarok az Egyesült Államokban. Budapest 1982“ (= Hungarians who emigrated to the USA).

Concerning Slovakia you may consult:, in German language, where you find the homepage:, indicating where many Lutheran church registers of Slovakia are kept and can be consulted. Many church registers of Slovakia have been filmed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and are accessible at their centers. They have recently started to digitize and place these records on-line under the title of Slovakia Church Books, 1592-1910.  Click here to access this on-line collection. The Slovak Genealogical-Heraldical Society at the Matica Slovenska (= Slovac National Library) in Martin, Slovakia, has plenty of information abour research opportunities of Slovakia-related material.

Zakarpatska Oblast, the Sub-Carapthian region of Ukraine, was part of Hungary until 1920, then that of Czechoslovakia until 1945. You can find valuable information about the ethnic composition of this territory on „“, and my find trace of your ancestors on the „ Slovak and Carpatho-Rusyn Genealogy Research Pages“.

Presumably you will find, proceeding step by step, the trace of your ancestors, even if at the first sight the view will not be clear. I´am sure you will find the necessary information and addresses as you proceed. I´am at your disposal with additional explanations at the followong e-mail address: