Genealogical Sources North Moravia

I) Parish books

(taken from: Andreas Hanacek, "Kleiner Wegweiser für die Familienforschung im Kreis Sternberg und Umgebung in Nordmähren (Entwurf)" [Little guide for genalogical research in the county Sternberg and its surrounding area in North Moravia (draft version)])

For further informations about structure and use of the Czech archives and written inquiries to them look at:

Starting points archives


Protestant parish books

Jewish parish books

Catholic parish books

Storage places

Duplicates of the parish books

Age of the parish books

Language of the parish books

Script of the parish books

Dates in the parish books

Annotations about personal research in the parish books

Spelling of the original Czech names

Place names

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North Moravian parish books:

Fundamentally there must be stated that for the area of today's Czech Republic civil records have been at first recorded in the year 1939 (also look at foreword and introduction in 'Die Zivilstandsregister im Protektorat Böhmen und Mähren' [look at literature VI]). Therefore the genealogist normally has to rely on parish books. The area North Moravia and as well as that of the political county Sternberg was nearly exclusively inhabited by Catholics. Pfohl [look at literature X] lists in the year 1910 for whole Moravia only 86.069 Protestants, 37.989 Jewish and 6794 other confessors as well as 61.786 members of the Czechoslovacian Church and 49.026 non-denominational people, but on the other hand 2,421.220 Catholics. Members of the denominational minorities and Jews are appearing only occasionally within the county Sternberg.

The parish priests of the Protestant parish have been at first allowed to record parish books for private usage in the year 1781 through the tolerance commission of Joseph II. The entries however had to be presented to the Catholic parish book recorders and had to be copied through them, because only those books had official evidental value. In the year 1829 the Protestant parish priests did get the right to record official parish books. The entries however had to be copied to the Catholic parish books until 1849. For this reason there are only very few seperate Protestant parish books, which normally start in the last third of the 19th century.

The Jewish parish books did have offical evidental value until 1797, after that the Catholic parish book recorders did record the books until 1868, in which year the Jewish parish books did get back their offical evidential value.

(source: 'Die Kirchenbücher der Schönhengstgauer Sprachinsel', Josef Bezdek, Sudetendeutsche Familienforschung, 3. Jg. 1930/31)

It must be annotated that the above described denominational situation is only correct for the time period after about 1680. As the Swedish did occupy the towns from 1642-1648/50, there have been for example in the town Sternberg without exception Protestant marriages usual until about 1670. Afterwards after a short transition period only Catholic marriages again [Heiratsbücher Sternberg, look at literature, VIII].

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To the history of the (Catholic) parish books are the following orders concerning the recording of the books through the Austrian court provable, which are listed in chronological order (look also at Blaschka [look at literature VI]):

- 1770 ban to name the father after his farming land without mentioning his surname, house numbers have been introduced since 1771 (Note: the house numbers were changed in some places after 1800 because of high building activities, also around 1880 for the reason of introducing new land records)

-1784 in Moravia the German language was introduced as official language, this probably was also the case for the parish books, at the same intruduction of a new tabular form pattern

- since the 20th Februar, 1784 through commission sperarated books for baptism, marriage and death cases

- ordered though court decree of 19th July ,1784 recording of each place seperately in an independant book

- 1790 indroduction of the indexes, which are listing the taken parish book events chronolocigally in order of the first letter of the surname

- 1794 mentioning of the bride or mother through citing the territory and place of her origin and the names of her parents.

- if children have been illegitimate or extramatrial the recording of the fathers name in the parish book was prohibited, an exception was only possible in the case that the father named himself as the father of the child and appeared with two witnesses at the parish book recorder, did he marry the mother it was possible to add his name to the baptizm entry with his particularly agreement (legitimatio per subsequens matrimonium 1795). In consequence of that, the father's search at illegitimate children is nearly without chance.

- since 1825 naming of the midwife

It has to be annotated that in elder parish books one will only find entries with dates of baptism and burial without naming dates of birth and death. This changes first about 1784.

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The older parish books of the former district Olmütz are today stored at the district archives in Olmütz which can be seen without problems after preceding announcement. The younger parish books however are today at the local municipality offices and can only be seen with difficulties. For that the genealogist has to apply in writing for that, giving the reason and proving the legitimate interest of persual into those parish books. (Annotated as a hint: the local priest is also entitled to see the parish books within the area of his parish) The chronological seperation line is about the year 1900. This is however only approximately correct, because the existing books have been further used after 1946. Through the migration movements after World War II it did happen in poorly settled parishes and municipalities that a pre 1900 started parish book was completed several years after the war. But at the archives in Olmütz are only books which have been finished in the year 1949 the point handing in the church records to the authorities. (e.g. does the baptism book of Pinke end already in 1861 and the marriage book of the parish Gnoitz before 1857)

For that reason it is recommended to collect as much information as possible outside the Czech Republic before.

Furthermore there are for many parishes of the Olmütz area duplicates of the parish books which are stored at a seperate archives near Römerstadt. At the very best the duplicates start for the diocese Olmütz about the years 1687/8 and are partially older than the today existing originals. One can be sure that starting around 1800 there are duplicates of each parish. It must be annotated however that the death records are at the beginning uncomplete and are recorded completely first around 1740.

The duplicates have been recorded normally al least to 1878 (with only some gaps in single years) and are therefore partially reaching beyond the period of the originals stored in Olmütz. If these duplicates can be seen publicy I can't say. It is however in single cases theoretically possible to inquire the duplicates archives from Olmütz. As this is for personal research only possible per phone through the archives personal this can only be done for exceptions with precisely circumscribed questions.

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The age of the parish books is lasting normally until to the middle of the 17th century starting after the Thirty Year's War. Only the parish books of the towns can be lasting before the beginning of the war. This is the case within the North Marovian e.g. below others for the towns Sternberg, Mährisch Neustadt, Littau and Giebau.

About the language of the parish books stored in Olmütz can be told the following: The oldest books are recorded until about 1670/90 in the respective native language of the parish book recorder. After that the bishop of Olmütz did introduce the Latin language. This did however not happen everywhere at the same time, so it is possible that the beginning of the Latin entries in the parish books can vary several years. Latin is until about 1874-1800 the dominating language till the German language is carrying through (see above). Exceptions can happen e.g. in the language border area to the Czech population or if the priest has been Czech. (so are e.g. the parish books of Deutschloosen recorded over long time periods in the 19th century Czech) Furthermore it can happen that single entries or later additions are done in Czech (in the baptizm book of Mährisch Hause the afterwards legitimation in the year 1857 of a child born 1852 has been taken in Czech although the book has been recorded for this time period in German)

The script appears until about 1850 in old German handwriting, before that normally in Latin letters. Before 1700 it however can happen that the entries are done in Latin cursive. This script usually only can be read fluently through a trained eye. There are several book for learning the old German handwriting and for reading exercises which are containing many suitable speciems of handwriting [look at literature, II]

The mentioned dates can be normally understood without problems, merely the description of month names through rural activities or terms in some parishes are confusing at first glance. For this reason are the most frequently used descriptions listed below:

Jänner, Hartung --- Januar --- January

Feber, Hornung --- Februar --- February

Lenzing, Lenzmonat --- März --- March

Grünmonat --- April --- April

Wonnemonat --- Mai --- May

Brachmonat --- Juni --- June

Heumonat --- Juli --- July

Erntemonat --- August --- August

Herbstmonat --- September --- September

Weinmonat --- Oktober --- October

Wintermonat --- November --- November

Christmonat --- Dezember --- December

Partially are also some Latin abbreviations not directly obvious for beginners:

7ber (VIIber) - september - September - September

8ber (VIIIber) - october - Oktober - October

9ber (IXber) - november - November - November

10ber (Xber) - december - Dezember - December

Finally it can happen that the thousand decimal place of the year is missing without exception. So e.g. 1778 chances to 778.

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Furtheron personal research can be hindered through some points:

First the spelling of the original Czech names varies in the course of the centuries considerable. Main reason is as a rule the conversion of the Czech letters with diacritical signs into the German script (Simple example: Dvorak - Dvorschak)

Furthermore there has been conducted a spelling reform of the Czech language about 1820/30, which included the introduction of the today's diacritical signs.

This can result in unsureness in tracing persons which e.g. moved to the next place. For the solution of such questions the book of Johann Neumann 'Tschechische Familiennamen in Wien' [look at literature, IV] can be recommended. It contains a wealth of different personal name variants and assigns them to the original Czech form.

Next the given name can change in the older parish book entries from the German to the Latin and also to the Czech form and reverse (example: Lorenz - Laurentius - Wawran [variety of Vavrinec] within the time period of 1671-1725 in the parish books of Sternberg and Gnoitz for the same person). For Czech given names which have been converted only phonetically into German the book of Neumann [look at literature, IV] offers good starting-points.

Finally there can be also partial difficulties with the cited place names. The place names chance partly in the course of the centuries (e.g. Mährisch Liebau to Böhmisch Liebau, Unter-Stefanau and Stefanau), furthermore varies the Czech spelling considerable and differs clearly from today's spelling. Valuable hints in case of uncertainties can obtained at Wolny [look at literature, X] and especially at Hosak/Sramek [look at literature, IV]. The inventory at Olmütz is recorded in Czech with the today used place names. There is a Czech-German concordance existing which shall help to transform the Czech names into the former German place names. But there are manny village names which are existing several times within the diocese Olmütz. For this reason is is not always immediately possible to find out which of the listed names in the concordance is the right one. Therfore is is recommended for visiting the archives to take along a(n older) place name register [look at literature, X] in combination with an actual road atlas of the Czech Republic [look at literature, X].

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Last update: 04-Dec-1995

© 1995-96 by Andreas Hanacek