Monday, January 11, 2010

Hungarian Vital Records

Posted by Sam Schleman

The Austro-Hungarian Empire was a dual monarchy, which included the Kingdom of Hungary. Beginning in the 1850’s the Austro-Hungarian authorities decreed that all religious institutions maintain records of births, marriages and deaths for their congregants. This system remained in place until October, 1895, when it was replaced by a centralized system of civil registrations for all religious denominations.


Some communities began keeping vital records as early as the 1820’s and others kept records only sometime after the 1850’s. The local synagogue created the records and sent a copy to the megye (county) archives. Today, most of the records which have survived are in the Hungarian National Archives in Budapest, which is where the Mormon’s microfilmed them. No one has systematically determined what records may still exist in the different megye archives. Recently a considerable number of records were discovered which were supposed to have been turned over to the Slovak archives when Hungary was partitioned in 1920. However, these “unknown” records were kept in Hungary and Slovakia had no knowledge of them, and the local authorities did not wish to acknowledge they had these records. Similar situations may exist elsewhere, but have not been investigated.


A complicating factor is that the Kingdom of Hungary was partitioned in 1920, at the conclusion of World War I, by the Treaty of Trianon. Hungary lost two-thirds of its territory and parts of 19th century Hungary today lie within the borders of Slovakia, Romania, Ukraine, Austria, Croatia, Slovenia, Poland and Serbia. Access to these records varies enormously by country.

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