Thursday, July 19, 2018

Guide to the Zámrsk archive website

The regional archive in Zámrsk has probably the most confusing system to access digitized materials of all Czech archives.

Area: In this archive are stored materials for North-East Bohemia and North-West Moravia. More precisely we are talking about areas of today Hradec Králové region (districts: Hradec Králové, Jičín, Náchod, Rychnov nad Kněžnou, Trutnov) and Pardubice region (districts: Chrudim, Pardubice, Svitavy, Ústí nad Orlicí), but as usual, there could be also areas from around borders of both regions (so from SOA Praha, SOA Třeboň, ZA Opava, MZA Brno) and vice versa.
Map of digitized parishes (and therefore of the area covered by Zámrsk materials.)

There are basically four places, where to find their sources online:
  1. Their collection of digitized parish books.
  2. Their collection of another digitized materials, that is different for each district archive.
  3. Their collection of digitized maps of estates.
  4. Their materials on FamilySearch
I strongly suggest you to bookmark all the main links that will be mentioned in next paragraphs, because the website of Zámrsk is not very intuitive even for Czech users.

1. Collection of digitized parish books.
  • You can find it here. Use this link, because the inventory list is cca. three times a year updated, so if you bookmark direct link to the .pdf file, it might stop working during time. You can also download the file, but keep in mind the chance for updates - each update will be also announced in our Czech Genealogy group.
  • The inventory list is very long (it contains 11 871 books!), but you can easily use ctrl+f (or another search tool you prefer) to search for the town you are interested in. Keep in mind that the town might be in different parishes in different time frames, and also that there are listed both Catholic and non-catholic books. (If you don't have diacritics on your keyboard or you are not sure what they are and where, try to google the town name without them and then use the result and copy and paste it into the search box.)
  • The books are basically listed in this order:  
    • Catholic parishes 
    • Evangelical parishes (older "parishes" of different denominations - from the page 2428)
    • newer non-catholic churches: Svobodná evangelická církev česká (one book on the page 2502), Jednota bratrská (from the page 2503), Církev československá (from the page 2506)
    • Civil (district) offices (from the page 2534)
    • WWII Civil offices (from the page 2574).
  • The parishes are in alphabetical order for each section (remember that for Czechs "CH" goes after "H".)
  • Each book has number of order in the inventory, that might change when there is a new book added, and a signature, that is stable and identifies the book.
  • The order of books for one parish starts from oldest books, that are often for baptism, marriages and burials together; newer books are listed in this order: baptisms (if there are different books for each village, they keep the time frame from older to newer books for one village, then the same for another one), marriages, burials; index - there might be three basic types: baptisms, marriages and burials for whole parish, maybe in more volumes; or baptisms, marriages and burials for each village (or a group of them); or index for baptisms of whole parish, of marriages for the whole parish, for burials for the whole parish. Sometimes there are indexes included in the parish books.
Let's see what information each part of the inventory contains:


Parish: name of parish center
Parish district: here are listed all villages that were in the parish during time and sometimes also villages that were not part of the parish officially, but books contain their records for whatever reason - it's often explained in text also with time frame. In brackets there is a German name of the village (or the most common/official form, there might be differences in particular records), previous Czech names of the village, previous and current jurisdiction, district). There might be also a note that the village was or is in another parish.
Note: basic info about the important historical dates of the parish: in this case 1353 was build (or mentioned) a parish church, that was later a subsidiary church of the parish of Šonov, 1783 there was a "lokálie" - the church and its own priest, but still under "jurisdiction" different parish (but with its own books), 1862 parish of The Order of St. Benedict in Broumov.
Type of a parish: confession; Vicariate: the church that was somehow superior to this one; Diocese: in this case Hradec Králové; Matricular district: current office for the mentioned villages - there could be more of them; District: current district; Region: current region.


What we see here is a list of parish books of different kinds.
The first number means the number of the book in the list (it's the same as the number after "ukn") and can change.
Sign. number is a number of signature for each book, this is a unique number that is stable and if you keep track of sources you used (which is I hope a basic thing for a researcher), this is the number you need to write down.
Matrika N, O, Z or NOZ. Matrika means parish book, N is narození (birth), O is oddaní (marriages), Z is zemřelí (deaths). So you can easily deduce that NOZ is the same as BMD in English :)
In the last book's entry, you can see index NOZ and it means of course BMD index. The content of index might vary but since you know what the letters mean you can understand, now.
Time frame of the book is comprehensible.
Then there is ukn number - the number of the book from the order of books in this list.
Územní rozsah means the area covered by the book records. If there is the word farnost it means the book contains whole parish. If there are certain villages, they are mostly followed by time frame in brackets, so you can easily see, whether the date you need is in the book.
The longest part is a description of the book in the formal way: there is its size, type of a binding, total page count (fol. means folio), language (němčina, čeština, latina - German, Czech, Latin), note about various content aside the BMD records - in these cases there are drawings in the books and some church summaries and another entries.
Mikrofilm č. number is a number of a microfilm.
And finally there is a link where you can download the whole book. If the link is missing, the book is not digitized yet.

2. Collection of another digitized materials.
There is also a page that leads to e-výstava archiválií for each of district archives that are united under Zámrsk as a regional archive.
Unfortunately, there are various sources digitized in each district archive, if any at all.

  •     E-badatelna Hradec Králové
    • this district archive published all their censuses 1870-1921, but censuses for 1921 were moved offline because of GDPR. They could be still used in reasearch room or you can pay to the archive for a research. But some of them are still online on FamilySearch :)
    • the page is very nicely done, you get information about villages, what district they were in during time etc., even links to the parish books to download and lists of non-digitized materials for the village that are stored in the archive
    • for some of the villages and towns there are also digitized chronicles (pamětní kniha), but it's the same as for censuses - some of them were removed because of GDPR.
    • there are also another materials, like medieval charters in case of Hradec Králové.
  •     E-badatelna Chrudim
    • under Místa a regiony were published various materials, but they are all removed because of GDPR, but with promise of bringing back the ones that are not protected by this law.
  •     E-badatelna Jičín
    • the same as in Hradec Králové description
  •     E-badatelna Náchod
    • under Obce náchodského okresu, there is a list of very few villages with digitized materials, mostly chronicles and medieval charters
    • under Veduty there are old pictures of various towns not only in the district (if you are interested of such images, you can use also this website)
  •     E-badatelna Pardubice
    • under Digitalizované fondy there is only one old market book
  •     E-badatelna Rychnov nad Kněžnou
    • there are charters, chronicles and miscellanea for some of the towns
  •     E-badatelna Svitavy
    • chronicles for some of the towns
  •     E-badatelna Trutnov
    • chronicles and charters. Only materials older than 1945, because of GDPR.
  •     E-badatelna Ústí nad Orlicí
    • censuses for most of the villages (year 1921 was removed, but for some of villages it is still on FamilySearch)
  •     E-badatelna Zámrsk
    • parish books and links for materials of two estates, one is not working, one leads to Třeboň archive

3. Collection of digitized maps of estates.
Various kinds of maps, not only of estates, but also of hunting grounds, forests, pheasantries, ponds, rivers, roads, church lots, stabile cadaster maps and maybe more.
Search is the same as in the inventory, use ctrl+f and name of the locality, then copy the link and see the map.

4. Materials on FamilySearch
If you don't want to download whole .zip files of parish books from inventory, you can always try, whether the same book isn't available on FamilySearch. I think there is quite a huge time gap in updating files on FS in case of books of newer inventories, but it's worth trying.
How can you reach the book? There is some kind of search form, but I don't use it, so I will omit it :) But you could certainly try search at least in the Catalogue part of FS, that might give you results that are not on the list mentioned in the following text.
  1. Click on Czech Republic, Church Books, 1552-1981
  2. Click on Browse through 4,668,489 images
  3. Choose religion (I found out that sometimes books are not in the religion that they are supposed to be... if you cannot find it, try another one.)
  4. Now you need to open the inventory of the parish books and see the vikariát or matriční obvod or district information of the book description (the note is the same as for the religion, sometimes books are under different district. Try also the town of kraj - region - part of book description.)
  5. Now there is the weirdest part - you have to choose the book you need. As I found out, the numbers in brackets often don't mean nothing. What I do is that I find the book in the inventory and try to find the same time frame. 
  6. If there are more of them, check the second image, there is a description of the book similar to the one in the inventory. If there is no description of the book, it's very possibly a continuing part of the previous book on the FamilySearch list (somehow certain bigger books are devided into more parts without warning).
  7. Sometimes there are indexes listed as the parish books, not as indexes. If you know from the inventory list, that the index exists, try to locate it.
There are also censuses from Zámrsk - of course not all of them, but as I mentioned above, in some cases there are the 1921 ones that are removed from Zámrsk website. There are also some of them (e.g. from Chrudim district), that can be reached via FS Catalogue, but are not mentioned in the list of available censuses.
Start on the same main page as for parish books, but choose censuses. Then you choose the district (you can follow the list of district archives under part 2 of this blogpost. There are not many villages, nor all years for them, but still you might be lucky and find the one you need (this is against one of the Murphy's Laws for Genealogists - if the source you might need is available, the part you need is missing -, but maybe you are the exception proving the rule :D ).Sometimes there might be censuses from districts of Zamrsk under nearby districts of different archives (I think there are some villages from the South of Svitavy district under Prostějov, but I cannot name even one :D ).

For the ones who reached the end of this very long and hopefully helpful blogpost, there is one of the illustrations of our "example" parish books :) 

More images are here


  1. Thank for posting this, very helpful!

  2. Excellent article! I had figured some of this out, but not all. thanks very much!

  3. I have been following some families into the 1700's right on the border with Poland/Silesia. (Kunstat parish) Some of the family lines disappeared from the vital records. (I have also checked the parishes to the west.) I am starting to think they cam from east of the border. Those records would be held in Polish repositories, correct?

  4. An interesting discussion is worth comment. I think that you should write more on this topic, it might not be a taboo subject but generally people are not enough to speak on such topics. To the next. Cheers

  5. Thank you for all this helpful and detailed info