Sunday, September 18, 2011

Czech Registries - history

The most important source of knowledge for family history researchers are definitely registries, also called parish books, in Czech matriky. This word comes from Latin matricula, which means list of priests

The oldest Czech registries are from 16th century - the oldest ones comes from mid of 16th century. But these are exceptions - the need to have the registries wasn't too strong until the 30 years war and recatolization of Czech lands. 

First parish books were just lists created by the vicar to have an overview about his herd. But as the time went, there were more and more information mentioned in the records. However the amount of information depended only on the person which was writing into the registry - therefor some records are very short, other are long and in rich language.

Registries became official documents in 1784, during the reign of Emperor Josef II. It was strictly set what content the records has to have. This unfortunately meant shortening of the records in many cases, because some vicars stopped to write down information included before (as father's name, village of origin etc.). Mandatory content of the records was extended in the following decades until the records included quite many information - occupation, information about parents or grandparents, where were they from and so on. I'll introduce you different time periods in special posts.

Note about evangelical churches:
New evangelical churches and registries were also founded after 1782. You can find duplicate records both in catholic and evangelical registries for the time period of 1784-1832, but after this year the churches were totally splitted and the catholic vicars didn't write information about evangelics into catholic books anymore.


  1. I've reviewed several digitized registries and found much useful information. One problem is that the appear to have been in Latin in the late 18th century, then German and then Czech. A link to someone who can read this old script and translate it would be very helpful.

  2. Have you tried Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International (CGSI)? I am a volunteer researcher for this all-volunteer, non-profit organization, which has been helping people advance their Czech and Slovak genealogical research since 1988. website:

  3. Jimmy: Yes, Latin is very common in 18th century. I'm preparing dictionary for the registries, Latin, Czech and German to English so it's easier for you to search in the records.