Czech Republic Determining a Place of Origin

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In the Czech Republic, most records used in family history research are kept on a town or parish level. Therefore the exact town of origin must be known before research in Czech records can begin. Most of the time, the Czech place of origin is found in sources created in the country of immigration. These records should be searched for the ancestor, possible relatives, and other associated persons.

DETERMINE BACKGROUND INFORMATION[edit | edit source]

  • When did the immigrant arrive in America?
  • In which specific area did he settle?
  • Which records exist for that area?
  • In which port did he arrive? Which records exist or are available?
  • Was the immigrant prominent? Was the surname unusual or common?
  • Did the immigrant come alone or did he come as part of a group or with a religious leader?
  • Which historical events were occurring in Europe, and also in America, that could have played a role in influencing emigration or immigration?
  • Did anyone appear on the passenger list with the ancestor, who settled in the same area as the immigrant?

CHECK HOME AND FAMILY SOURCES[edit | edit source]

  • Family Bible
  • Emigration papers: passport, emigration permission, travel tickets, boarding passes etc.
  • Occupational papers, lodge or guild records, journeyman letters
  • Church certificates: christening, confirmation, marriage, death or burial records
  • Family letters – which are generally dated and list a place!
  • School certificates
  • Family pictures: watch for explanations usually written on the back and/or photographer's address or town on the front!
  • Funeral cards and obituary notices
  • Drivers license, insurance papers, etc.
  • Diaries - personal journals
  • Published family histories
  • Any documents written or printed in a foreign language or handwriting style. The basic rule is: If you can’t read it, have it read by someone who can.

WWW.FAMILYSEARCH.ORG INCLUDES:[edit | edit source]

  • IGI (International Genealogical Index)
  • Ancestral File
  • Social Security Death Index
  • 1880 U.S. Census Index with links to images on www.ancestry.com
  • Pedigree Resource File
  • Family History Library Catalog
  • Family History Resource File: Vital Records Index
  • links to various websites

U.S. CENSUS RECORDS[edit | edit source]

U.S. federal census records provide the basic framework of the family. The ancestor should be located in every census taken while he lived in the United States. All censuses are available online at www.ancestry.com with indexes and images. Some years are also available at www.heritagequestonline.com. However, if the ancestor cannot be found using “exact search”, it may be necessary to search other indexes or even the census film for the specific locality ‘by hand’. Since Ancestry.com uses a lot of non-English speakers to index records, users need to be aware of letter combinations that could easily be misinterpreted. Try truncated searches using three or more letters and an asterisk for a “wild card”.

  • 1850, 1860, 1870 Federal Census

Beginning with the 1850 Census, all household members are named, province or country of birth is listed. 1860 and 1870 Census often list "province" rather than the country. Book and film/fiche indexes exist for most of these censuses.

  • 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930 Federal Census

Soundex indexes exist for these U. S. Censuses. They provide clues as to country, province, or even the place of birth. Month and year of birth are listed. The 1880 Soundex Index includes those families with children ten years or younger. The 1900 Census lists the year of immigration to America, also "years married" and “month and year of birth”. The 1900-1930 censuses ask if the immigrant is a U.S. citizen or an alien and for the year of immigration.

  • Check State Censuses wherever they are available! They were usually taken midway between Federal Censuses in years ending with “5”.

U.S. RECORDS[edit | edit source]

  • State and county vital records: a. marriage license or record (especially the application), b. death record c. divorce records
  • Church records: a. child’s christening record, b. confirmation record, c. marriage record, d.. burial record, e. membership records, f. tombstone inscriptions, g. cemetery records – associations
  • Military records: a. pension/ service files b. WWI draft registration cards[available on www.ancestry.com]
  • Public records: a. civil court records, b. probate records, c. land records, d. tax records

NATURALIZATION RECORDS[edit | edit source]

Prior to 1906 all U.S. courts dealt with naturalizations. These records may be found at federal, district, county, circuit, or city court levels, so check all courts in the area.

The declaration of intention can be filed in one court/locality, and the petition in another. It is important to check for all possible records, since they may contain different clues.

  • Declaration of Intention to become a U.S. citizen - usually filed after a minimum of 2 years in the country
  • Petition for Naturalization - often a certificate only. Certificate is received after so many years as a resident (usually 3- 5 years).

Beginning in 1906, the Immigration and Naturalization Service [INS], now called U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, took care of naturalizations nationwide. Records are kept at regional offices. Details can be found at http://www.uscis.gov/graphics/index.htm. Copies of records should be requested using form G-639 [Freedom of Information Act Request], which can be downloaded or printed from http://www.uscis.gov/graphics/formsfee/forms/index.htm. Waiting time may be six months or more.

NEWSPAPERS, PERIODICALS, OTHER COMPILATIONS[edit | edit source]

  • Newspapers, especially obituaries
  • Foreign-language newspapers
  • Published genealogies
  • Genealogical Magazines
  • City Directories
  • County atlases, plat books

LOCAL HISTORIES[edit | edit source]

  • Town Histories: may include information if your ancestor was among the first settlers in the area, if he was prominent, or if he made significant contributions of some sort (art, architecture, etc.)
  • County Histories: may include information about specific ethnic groups, where they settled, who their leaders were and where they came from, biographical sketches, and churches with biographical information about founding members of the congregation.
  • State Histories: usually contain very general information about early settlers and their origins.

U.S. PASSENGER INFORMATION[edit | edit source]

As of July 2006, www.ancestry.com has indexed passenger lists from the following ports, most with linked images:

  • New York, 1820-1850 [no images], 1851-1891, and some records from the 1930’s
  • Baltimore, 1820-1948, also an earlier index without images from 1820-1872
  • Boston, 1820-1943
  • Philadelphia, 1883-1945
  • Atlantic Ports, Gulf Coasts, and Great Lakes Passenger Lists, 1820-1871
  • Galveston, 1896-1948
  • New Orleans, 1820-1945

However, it isn’t always clear how complete both indexing and images are. For instance, the Galveston indexes are linked to images, but for some reason apparently only the left page of the lists was scanned in. The right page that includes the town of birth is not available, and there is no hint in the description that it exists.

Additional information:

  • New York passenger lists begin in 1820. Filmed indexes are available for 1820 - 1846, 1897 – 1943. Prior to 1882 relatively few lists contain the town of origin. Both last residence and place of birth are required on the form beginning in 1907. Less information is required for U.S. citizens.

Lists from 1892 to 1924 are available on the Internet at www.ellisislandrecords.org. However, the search capabilities are limited. For expanded search capabilities use www.stevemorse.org. Another online-index for New York 1830-1913 is www.castlegarden.org. This is NOT linked to images, so must be used in conjunction with other websites. Both indexes and images for 1820-1957 are available on www.anccestry.com.

If a search on www.ancestry.com doesn’t work, it may be helpful to check other record formats and indexes:

  • The Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore, and New Orleans lists are indexed on microfilm for the greater part of the 19th Century and partly up to 1929. Indexes and lists are available for other ports as well.
  • Filby’s Passenger and Immigration Lists Index (973 W32p, tan colored books)
  • Canadian border crossing records (1894 - 1954) are available on film; some Canadian emigration records are now available on line.
  • Galveston, Texas- most of the early passenger lists were destroyed, but there are some books of extracted and compiled lists of immigrants of various nationalities. This website may be helpful [you need a password, but it’s free]: http://www.tsm-elissa.org/immigration-main.htm.

EUROPEAN PASSENGER INFORMATION[edit | edit source]

HAMBURG

Passenger Lists, 1850 - 1934. A. The direct Passenger Lists B. The indirect Passenger Lists C. Combined index 1850 - 1871 (Klüber- Kartei- two alphabetical indexes on film; also contains some entries from sources other than the Hamburg passenger lists). D. Police registers of city residents and passports issued, various sets of records found in the Catalog under “ Hamburg- Emigration and Immigration “ , “Hamburg- Population” and “Hamburg- Passports” Images of the Hamburg Passenger lists are now available on www.ancestry.de, but only 1890-1913 is indexed at this time. Currently, the Family History Library subscription to Ancestry does not have access to these records.

BREMEN

A. Bremen began keeping passenger lists in 1832, but most lists have been destroyed. Currently, 2953 passenger lists dating from 1920 to 1939 are kept in the Archive of the Bremen City chamber of Commerce. They are fully indexed at http://www.schiffslisten.de/ B. Some reconstructed passenger lists have been published. The information was taken from the U.S. arrival lists.

ANTWERP, BELGIUM

For Antwerp the Library is currently filming emigration records and hotel registers that include Germans, especially from the Rhineland and the Southwestern part of Germany, and give towns of origin. These records are cataloged under “Belgium, Antwerpen, Antwerpen- Emigration-Immigration”. The “Vreemdelingendossiers” begin in 1840. There are indexes. The first film number of the set is 2234256.

LE HAVRE, FRANCE

The only actual ships’ lists known to exist are crew lists, which are of very limited usefulness. Records of some Le Havre ship departures may be found at the Archives Départementales de la Seine-Maritime Cours Clemençeau F-76000 Rouen France

STETTIN

Some passenger lists are found in the record groups Pommersches Polizeipräsidium and Schifffahrtsdirektion Stettin in the Vorpommersches Landesarchiv Martin-Andersen-Nexö-Platz 1 D-17489 Greifswald Germany The lists cover the years 1869-1892, and contain about 500-800 passengers per year. Friedrich Wollmershäuser, a private researcher, has obtained copies of these passenger lists and intends to publish them.

ROTTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS

Lists kept by the Holland- America Line from 1900 to 1940 are available on microfiche, beginning with FHL INTL Fiche 6109126

The Family History Library has books of emigrants from various areas of European countries. They are usually cataloged under

Country, Province or Region Name- Emigration and Immigration

Lists of websites useful for locating Czech places of origin is found at https://wiki.familysearch.org/en/Czech_Republic_Emigration_and_Immigration

REMEMBER: 90% of all places of origins are found by examining American sources very carefully.

Use every possible avenue in order to find the place of origin for your Immigrant ancestor.

And "never, never give up!”