Your ancestors in Slovakia
Slovakia (officially The Slovak Republic) is a Country with a rich history and a very high standard of living. With a population of 5.6 million it has been a member of the European Union since 2004. Bratislava is the capital with Kosice as the second largest city. Wanting to trace your Slovak ancestors? This blog will help you get started.
In the 5th and 6th C Slavs arrived in the vicinity of present-day Slovakia. In the 7th C it played a role in creating Samo’s Empire, and in the 9th C established the Principality of Nitra. Great Moravia was created when the Principality of Moravia conquered Nitra.
In the 10th C following the dissolution of Great Moravia the territory was integrated into the Principality of Hungary. The Mongols destroyed much of the territory in 1241-1242. Bela IV of Hungary restored the territory and settled Germans in the area. The Germans mainly remain in parts of central and eastern Slovakia.
Czechoslovakia was established after World War One. A separate Slovak Republic existed during World War Two, a client state of Nazi Germany. At the end of World War One Czechoslovakia was re-established. After a coup in 1948 Czechoslovakia came under a communist administration (Soviet Eastern Bloc).
The Prague Spring failed in the attempt to liberalize communism in 1968. The Velvet Revolution ended communist rule in 1989. Slovakia became an independent state in 1993, following the dissolution of Czechoslovakia.
Slovakia is divided into 8 regions (Krajov) named after their principal cities. The Krajov are divided into 79 Okresy (counties). The Okresy are further divided into Obci (municipality) of which there are 2,890.
In 2011 it was estimated that 62% of the population belonged to the Roman Catholic Church. 9% were Protestant 4% as Greek Catholics and 1% as orthodox. 13% of the population identified as atheists and 11% didn’t answer the question about their religion.
Source: Wikipedia, accessed 2020
Family History records are organised by geographical locality. Civil Registration (birth, marriage and death) and Church records (christening/baptism, marriage and burial) are kept at a local level.
If you are unsure of your ancestors town in Slovakia follow the advice in the FamilySearch Wiki
Births, marriages or deaths (BMD) are civil records. As Slovakia was part of the Hungarian Empire civil records were kept from 1895-1918. In 1921 civil registration was enacted throughout the Czechoslovak Republic.
Births (in addition to English and Welsh records) indicate:
- Ages and residence of parents
- Until 1948 the religion of parents
Marriages (in addition to English and Welsh records) indicate:
- Dates and places of birth and residences of groom and bride
- Names and residences of parents and witnesses
- Until 1948 their religion
Deaths (in addition to English and Welsh records) indicate:
- Names of surviving spouse and parents
- Until 1948 their religion.
Copies of records can be obtained by correspondence or by visiting the Municipal and sub-district vital records offices (matričné úrady).
A snapshot of a family, on one night of the year; the Census (Sčítanie ľudu, Népszamlalas) was first taken (under the Kingdom of Hungary) in 1784-1785. Other Hungarian censuses were conducted in 1808, 1828, 1848 (Jews only), 1850, 1857, 1869, 1880, 1890, 1900, and 1910.
Under the Czechoslovak government Slovakia had censuses in 1921, 1930, 1940, 1950, 1961, 1970, 1980, and 1991. Future censuses will be conducted by the new Slovak government.
State regional archives and district archives host the census.
Emigrants and Immigrants
Emigration (leaving) and Immigration (arriving) records tend to be passenger lists, permissions to emigrate or records of passports issued.
FamilySearch has compiled some books for emigration and immigration. Under their catalogue search for:
- Slovakia – Emigration and immigration
- Slovakia – emigration and immigration – Handbooks, Manuals etc.
Until 1990 the Slovak Republic was a country of emigration. In the 19th and 20th C large-scale emigration occurred from Czech and Slovak lands. The main destinations were the United States, southeast Europe, Germany and Russia. The interwar period shifted emigration towards Canada, Latin America and France.
Immigration tended to be smaller in quantity, with return migration occuring because of the foundation of an independent Czechoslovakia in 1918.
Parish Registers generally detail Baptism, Marriage and Burial. They may be used as an alternative or substitute for civil registration.
Catholic Parishes in Europe were required to record baptism and marriage in 1563. In 1614 the requirement to record deaths was introduced. The earliest register for Slovakia is 1587. Most registers date from the early 1700s.
In the Protestant church registers were begun in the late 1600’s. In 1730 Catholic priests were ordered to record Protectants in their records. In 1771 a new format for the Protectant church registers was introduced. After 1784 church registers were declared as official state records. In Slovakia Protestants were able to keep their registers independent of Catholic control.
To gain access to these records access the state archives (štátné archívy). Records tend to date until the 1940s.
Key contacts and useful websites
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Robert Parker is a Genealogist and Trainer, based in Kent. He delivers courses, guidance, talks and research services for those interested in tracing their ancestors. See https://myfamilygenealogy.co.uk/guidance/ for his 5 steps to discovering your ancestors. Contact Robert to discuss your requirements without obligation.
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