Croatia Jewish Records

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What determined the places where Jewish people lived and their movements? If individual family members have gone on ahead, there was the natural tendency of other family members to follow. For those who eventually settled in Croatia, records suggest that the usual route was from Bohemia and Moravia into the western counties of old Hungary (now in Slovakia and the Austrian Burgenland) and then through southern Hungary into Croatia and Slavonia.

It is not always clear to which of the nearby larger communities the few families of Jews in the smaller villages would have belonged. It is important to look carfully in the surrounding communities. Within the pre-1918 Hungarian Kingdom, many places had different German, Hungarian and Slavic names.

Jewish Registers

The Genealogical Society of Utah has microfilmed all the Jewish registers that have been saved in the National Archives in Zagreb and Osijek. Records that were not deposited into the public archives may be in possession of local Jewish communities.

In general, the Jewish registers cover the time period from 1850 to 1895, when civil registration of births, marriages and deaths was introduced. Some registers go back to the late 1700s and early 1800s, but it was only in 1787 that Emperor Joseph II ordered the Jews throughout Hapsburg territories to adopt German family names to replace their Hebrew patronyms. The names could have been spelled differently from the way they are spelled now.

The authorities required more than one copy of registers be kept. Thus, some registers are misleading because they are later transcripts written in the same handwriting covering many decades in which the rabbi or scribe has preserved the history of the families of the community by including the births and parentage of newly arrived members of the community. For example, registers of births may include births that had occured in places as distant as Moravia.

Required format of the Jewish registers was introduced about 1885. Registers were kept in two or more copies or were periodically transcribed so it is necessary to look at all copies available and compare them. Young people, often only in their teens, moved considerable distances away from their birth places and parents in search of work and new homes. They might find spouses in the new communities or return home to find a spouse and then to bring a part or all of their family with them to the new community.

1828 Hungarian Census

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.

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.

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.

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).