Starting Your Research in Romania
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- 1 Contacting Family and Friends
- 2 Using the Civil Registry
- 3 Using Alternate Sources to Find the Parents
- 4 Using Church Records
- 5 Military Records
- 6 Other Records
Contacting Family and Friends[edit | edit source]
Like everywhere, the first place you go for family history information is your family. Start with your parents. Get all the information they can remember. Dates, places, and especially stories. See if you can get them to write an autobiography. Or they can give the information, and you can write it. Then, do the same with your grandparents. Contact your aunts, uncles and other relatives and friends for the information they might have. A good place to store the information is in the My Family booklet. From there, you can transfer the information to your Research Journal. That will tell you what other research you need to do.
Using the Civil Registry[edit | edit source]
The best source to start with in Romania is the Civil Registry, or as it is called in the United States, Vital Records. These are the birth, marriage and death certificates issued by the government when these events occur. The Civil Registry in Romania goes back a long way—the earliest records were created in Timisoara in 1717.
The birth certificate is the best way to identify a person. It will contain the names and ages of the parents. It may also contain the parents marriage date, the grandparents' names, and the current residence of the family. With the parents names and ages, you can then request their birth certificates. And so on.
The marriage certificate will contain the names and ages of the bride and groom. It may also contain birth information, the names of the parents and other family history information. Look at who the witnesses are, they may also be relatives.
The death certificate will contain the date and place of death. It will also usually contain the date and place of birth. It may also contains the names of parents and/or spouse and/or children of the decedent.
For Civil Records Less Than 100 yeas old[edit | edit source]
If the event occured less than 100 years ago, the certificate will be in the city offices where the event occured. All cities have a Civil Registry office. You can write to them and ask for a copy. A sample request is on the page entitled Forms and Correspondence.
Many cities have websites, and you can email your request to them. For those that don't, you can fax or use the regular mail. A list of Civil Registry offices are in the national pages of Romania. Just put the words "Starea Civila" and the name of the city or town in the search box.
For Civil Records Over 100 years old[edit | edit source]
After about 100 years, the cities turn their civil records over to the National Archive. The records are kept in the Regional Archive in the county where the city is located. You can email the archive requesting the information. There is a cost associated with the research at the National Archive offices. Or you can go to the archive and search for yourself. Access to the archive is free, but you will need a permit, which is also free. See the Archives page.
Using Alternate Sources to Find the Parents[edit | edit source]
Sometimes the city or the archive will not have the birth certificate for the parent. This is because the person moved from his or her home village to the city where his or her children were born. This migration from village to city accompanies the industrialization of Romania during the late 19th and early 20th century. The migration continues up to today, although to a lesser extent.
Sometimes to find where the person migrated from, you need to use some alternative sources.
Marriage Records[edit | edit source]
As noted above, the marriage record contains the age of the bride and groom and may contain their birthplaces. Then you can search for their birth certificate.
Secret Police Records[edit | edit source]
During the communist era, the secret police or Secuirtate kept dossiers on many Romanian citizens. These files are now available. The archive contains over two million dossiers. Anyone can access their own file and those of a direct ancestor. Certified researchers can access all files. Details on how to access these files is on the page entitled Records of the Securitate. Request forms are on the Forms and Correspondence page. Some dossiers contain family history information, including the birth place and date or the person, and the names and residences of living relatives. Some even have the birthplace and/or death date for the parents. So you should check the file for both the person (use an estimated birth year of about 25 years before the child was born) and the child. If only the death date of the person is given, request the death certificate. The death certificate will contain the person's birth date and place. Then, you can request the peson's birth certificate.
Cemetery Records[edit | edit source]
If you can't find where a person was born because of migration issues, try and find their death record. They probably died in the city where their children were born. To find their death date, check the various cemetaries in the city to see if you can find their grave. The headstone usually will contain the death date of the person. It may also contain the birth date. The birth date will help you confirm that you have the right person as it will match the birth date on the child's birth certificate. With the information on the headstone, you can get the death certificate. The death certificate will usually have the birth date and place. Then, you can request the person's birth certificate.
Using Church Records[edit | edit source]
If your research is back before there was a Civil Registry in your area, then use the church records. Churches do not have their own records, they were confiscated during the communist era. Church records are in the Regional Archives in each county, just like the Civil Registry. You will need to find out the name of the church or parish in the village or area where your ancestor lived. Church records go back as far as the 16th century, and include records for births (actually christenings), marriages and deaths. How to access the achives is listed above and on the Archives page.
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Military records contain the birth date and place as well the names of the parents of the person who served in the military. They may also contain other important family history information. However, the value of military records is the biographical information contained therein. If you have an ancestor who served in the military, access to his or her service record can be obtained through the Military Archives and would be a valuable addition to your family history collection. How to access the Military Archives is on the Military Records page.
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Other types of records available in Romania, such as census records are listed on their respective web pages on this site. The earliest known Romanian records with family history information are the Apprentice records, which date to 1450.