Searching the parish books can be very time consuming. When you search for your ancestor who was born somewhere between 1820 and 1830 in one of the largest towns in the Czech Republic, let's say České Budějovice or Příbor, it could take going through hundreds of pages one by one until you find the record you are looking for.
It's complicated - but it was complicated in the past too. That's why the priests created indices to the parish books - alphabetical (mostly) lists of people who were recorded in the parish books. The indices are not available to all parish books. But some 50 % of all Czech parish books were indexed in the past - and these indices are available for the researchers.
Some of the indices are in the books they cover. Other indices are in separate book, sometimes covering more parish books in one volume.
Here is an example from the České Budějovice parish. This index is covering the birth registries from years 1870 to 1910. It's a separate book and it covers all the books from České Budějovice parish in one volume. The example below shows letter M and year 1910.
You can see a surname and a name of the people recorded in the parish books. Then there is an abbreviation for the place where the person was born - Bud. for Budějovice, Čt. Dv. for Čtyři Dvory, Hodov. for Staré Hodějovice, Rožn. for Rožnov. Follows number of the book - 3, 4, 43 etc. The last number states the page on which is the birth recorded.
When we take the first name, Maňhal Karel, it is recorded in the book for České Budějovice no. 43, page 68 (year 1910). But be careful - the book number will be most probably different from the current numbering. So you have to find a birth book for České Budějovice which contains year 1910. And there, at the bottom of page 68, you will find birth of Karel Maňhal...
The newer the index is, the neater it usually is. Older indices are not so neat as the one listed above. But once you get used to the writing and how the indeces were created, it is easier to orientate even in those "not-so-neat".
This one comes from the Příbor parish. It shows letter K - surname and name and then the page number. It's quite easy to orientate in such index.
Don't forget the indices were written by humans - and it sometimes means mistakes. If you are sure the person you are looking for should be in the parish book and you are not able to find him/her in the index - check the parish book. It's always worth a try.
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