Turkey Military Records
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Personnel Dossiers and Pension Records of the Ottoman Empire
Record type: These are personnel files of Ottoman military personnel and bureaucrats. From the early 1800s the Ottoman Empire undertook programs of modernization which initially emphasized military reforms but which also eventually affected the governmental administration. Bureaucracies were expanded and reorganized. The need to pay, promote, and give retirement benefits to large numbers of civil employees and soldiers obliged the government to keep detailed personnel records.
Time period: 1800-1923.
Contents: – names of soldiers and civil employees; ages; birth date; birthplace; service information including promotions, etc; dependents’ names and details about them.
Location: Specific location is not available. These records may be in provincial (sancak) administrative offices. They may also be in the National Archives [Babakanlk Arivi] (also referred to as the Prime Ministry Archives), the Sulaymaniye Library in Istanbul, or in an archive in Ankara.
Population coverage: Less than 15%.
Reliability: Probably excellent.
Military Head Tax Register [Cizye Defter]
Research use: These records provide an early listing of names and probably age and residence of a significant portion of the male population; may provide some lineage linking information if sons are listed with fathers.
Record type: A register of those who paid the military head tax [cizye]. This tax was levied on all non-Muslims in place of military service. It is not possible to determine specific information about these records without on-site investigation.
Time period: 1551-1840.
Contents: Lists of cizye payers with accompanying documents and receipts. The lists may include a comprehensive listing of Christian and Jewish males throughout the Ottoman Empire; probably providing ages and residences. There are apparently 418 volumes; (the source of this number is unknown).
Location: National Archives [Başbakanlık Osmanlı Arşivi] in Istanbul; also referred to as the Prime Ministry Archives.
Population coverage: 5 to 6%. Apparently includes only non-Muslims. Because this is a record of taxation there may be a portion of the non-Muslim population who evaded registration.
Reliability: Probably good.
- The Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Family History Record Profile: Turkey,” Word document, private files of the FamilySearch Content Strategy Team, 1998.