Family search in the National Archives of Hungary
Time after time foreign visitors come to our archives, looking for their Hungarian rooted families. With this post we would like to give some tricks and tips for all those, who are interested in local- and family history – where they can begin, or which direction they can keep going on in their research. If you are one of them, join us and let the journey begin!
If you do not have precise information or cannot visit the archives personally and make the research by yourselves, we suggest you entrust a genealogist. It is not that fun, and has additional costs, but it is more effective, and if you don’t speak Hungarian, it is an easier solution, too. Most of the sources’ languages are Hungarian, but the earlier documents are written in German or Latin.
In case you are an adventurous person, you would like to do the research on your own and you like challenges, keep reading the post. For basic information please visit our website, where you will find useful readings, a brief introduction, a guide to family history research, and our online databases among others.
Further websites in this topic:
In the followings we would like to offer some basic group of documents, which are elementary for the research.
The National Archives of Hungary keeps the digital copies of registers of the recent Hungarian territories, from the end of the 17th century till 1895. The digital copies of birth, marriage and death registers are kept in the 3rd building of the National Archives of Hungary. Parish registers made out after 1895 and the original Hungarian parish registers are kept in the territorially competent Hungarian archives. Please find here the list of these archives.
PAY ATTENTION: Generally, the parish registers of former Hungarian settlements, which don’t belong to Hungary anymore (because of the Treaty of Trianon signed on 4th June, 1920 following WWI), can be found in the territorially competent Romanian/Slovakian/Serbian/Ukrainian etc. archives. To make sure whether we have it or not, please check it in our database!
You can check here our database of the parish registers originated before 1895. Please take into account, that for a successful research you have to know the exact date and place of birth, marriage or death, and last but not least the religion of the person you are looking for.
The alphabet in our database indicates the beginning letter of the settlements. Choosing one of them, you can select the religion and the sort of registers (születési – birth, házassági – marriage, halotti – death, vegyes – mixed). Arriving here, you can choose the relevant time period, and there you can see the number of the microfilm boxes. The images of parish registers are not available via online, but the digitized images are searchable in the reading room of our 3rd Building in Óbuda.
The censuses are another good sources for the family search. „Urbaria et conscriptiones” is one, if not the most popular of the fonds of the National Archives of Hungary. The collection consists of urbaria, censuses, tax records and estimates pertaining to households and estates, created between 1527 and the 19th century. They are already digitized, so you can read these documents online. Beside a short description, you can also find the database with the images. The languages of these documents are Latin, Hungarian and German. The early descriptions are mostly for advanced researchers!
Maria Theresa, Empress of the Habsburg Monarchy and Queen of Hungary, ordered a census, called the Urbarium of 1767, in order to take stock of the peasantry and their goods. The urbariums are written documents that tell us what kind of obligations the tenant had toward his lord, how big the serf’s animal stock was, what kind of utensil – and toolkit he used, how big the cultivated plot of land was. Last but not least the tables contain the names of the lords, tenants and cottars. The database consists of 300,000 pages relevant to 43 counties (you will find them on the right hand side of the database).
On the diet of 1715 the taxation has been put on a new base. According to this, the inhabitants of the country and their goods had to be listed, except the privileged ones and the Jews. All free royal cities, country towns, settlements, inhabited and abandoned (indicated since when) places were listed. The census commissioners – each county had two – gave information and summaries about each county. Unfortunately the census did not meet the expectations, so the repeating of the procedure has been decided, what happened in 1720. This census of 1720 has been the first one, which contained every county of the Hungarian Kingdom, after the liberation from the Ottoman rule (Transylvania, Croatia and Slavonia were not included within this census). In 1720 only the peasants with external territory, cottars and flats had to be listed along with Jews involved in trade or cultivation activities.
The material of the censuses are divided into groups of the counties according to the bigger regions of the country (Dunán-innen, Dunán-túl, Tiszán-innen, Tiszán-túl). It contains the listed people (who paid tax), the name of places and the most important economic data of the settlements (observatio). The database contains the contemporary name of the settlements, as well as their later names. To make their identification easier, we indicated the names of the country where they can be found today.
Coats of arms database
The National Archives of Hungary has a database with approximately 2500 letter patents of nobility. All of them are digitized, so unless the researcher cannot speak or read Latin, these documents can be researched even from a comfortable armchair, from the middle of one’s living room. You will find here the database.
The data sheet consists 4 main parts:
- the red edged bloc – elementary data of the letter patent, namely signature, physical parameters and conditions, its language and subject, the occurring names, and last the place and date of issue.
- the green edged bloc – contains data in connection with the seal.
- the yellow edged bloc – contains the text of blazonry and data in connection with the depiction of the armour, with its element among others.
- and the blue edged bloc – contains hints to the narration, the clause of annunciation and last but not least the available digital images of the coat of arms.
Royal Books – Libri Regii
The Royal Books (Királyi könyvek) is a collection of charters’ copies chronologically bound together in thick volumes, containing the more significant charters and donations issued by the king. The collection amounts to 67 volumes and encompasses three and a half centuries’ worth of royal decrees. The royal books of the Transylvanian Chancellery amount to 16 volumes, and were issued between 1690 and 1867. Between 1867 and 1918 other 6 volumes were issued.
Even at the time of their writing, it was of utmost importance that the data of the individual deeds could be searched, so a series of alphabetical indexes were created at the beginning of the 18th century.
Military related documents can be found at the Hungarian Military Archives. Since many Hungarian soldiers fought in the Army of the Habsburg Empire, it can be useful to contact the Austrian Military Archives, too.
If you still have any questions after reading this post through, you can ask the colleagues of the Information Service: firstname.lastname@example.org
Post by SZAKÁCS Annamária with the assistance of GARADNAI Zoltán and KLETTNER Csilla