Many of those who begin Czech research will find out that their ancestors were from Prague - or at least the family says so. Well, not all people could be from Prague, right? But there are ways how to find out if the people were living in Prague or not - one of those ways are Prague police conscriptions which are available online on National Archives of the Czech Republic website.
First of all - bit of historical background. Prague. The capital of the Czech Republic. Largest town in the country, tens of smaller villages connected during last two hundred and thirty years to create one large town. Often visited by tourists, mainly the Old Town, Lesser Town and Hradčany (Castle Quarter). But two hundred years ago the town was much smaller, containing of four quarters only (Old Town, New Town, Lesser Town and Hradčany). And one hundred years only a bit larger, containing of eight quarters:
- Praha I – Staré Město (Old Town)
- Praha II – Nové Město (New Town)
- Praha III – Malá Strana (Lesser Town)
- Praha IV – Hradčany
- Praha V – Josefov (Jewish Town)
- Praha VI – Vyšehrad
- Praha VII – Holešovice, Bubny
- Praha VIII – Libeň
Prague conscriptions covered these eight quarters as well as few others as the Prague Police Headquarters was in charge for surrounding villages too. These other villages were: Břevnov, Strašnice, Karlín, Podolí, Dvorce, Nusle, Pankrác, Vršovice, Michle, Smíchov, Košíře, Bubeneč, Podbaba, Šárka and Dejvice. If your ancestors were from mentioned Prague quarters or surrounding villages they should be covered by the conscriptions.
The conscriptions available online cover years 1850 til 1914. People there are therefor born during 19th and beginning of 20th century. Almost anyone who emigrated in the mentioned time span and lived in the mentioned quarters/villages should be present in the conscriptions. Should be - but of course some of the conscriptions were lost, destroyed etc.
Conscriptions website is available in English which is absolutely wonderful. You can even read some description of them in English. The search is done by surname and/or name and/or year of birth. I recommend to use combination of beginning of surname and name to get some narrower result than in case of just surname. For example if your ancestor's name and surname was Josef Stastny, type Stastn in the surname field and Jos in the name field. The result looks like this:
I have randomly chosen one Josef from the list - he is on third page, no. 51, Josef Šťastný born 1845, just to show how the conscription could look like.
The conscriptions contain quite much information - addresses where the family lived, names of family members, their occupation or status, dates and places where the family members were born or where they had their domicile rights. There is the head of the family listed on first place - usually a father/husband, less usually a widow. Then his wife and children, sometimes house staff.
Information contained there is in Czech or German - depended on the family and/or the clerk who wrote down the information. Most important part usually is the village where the family came from because it gives us a clue where to search next.
I believe there are going to be quite many questions about the conscriptions so don't hesitate to ask. :)