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Genealogy Guide: Czech and Slovak Republics

Brief History


From the Middle Ages to the 19th century, the lands that now make up the Czech Republic (Bohemia and Moravia) and the Slovak Republic were provinces of the Hapsburg Empire, later called the Austrian Empire, with its capital in Vienna. In 1867, the Hungarians won greater autonomy under the “Dual Monarchy,” and the territory of Slovakia came under Hungarian administration.  The Austro-Hungarian Empire lasted until the end of World War I, when independent Czechoslovakia was formed from Bohemia, Moravia, Slovakia, and parts of Silesia Following World War II, Carpatho-Ukraine, the easternmost region of Czechoslovakia, was annexed to the Ukraine. In 1993, Czechoslovakia peacefully divided into the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic.

For detailed historical maps, see the CJH Genealogy Guide to "Maps".

Finding Your Ancestral Town

To make the best use of this guide, you should first follow the general guidelines in our fact sheets on starting your family history research and, if necessary, use our fact sheets on U.S. census, immigration, naturalization, vital, and burial records to identify your ancestral town. The following sources may help you find the name of your ancestral town and locate it on a map:

Auslander, Jordan. Genealogical Gazetteer for the Kingdom of Hungary. Bergenfield, NJ: Avotaynu, 2004. English translation of 1877 gazetteer. Genealogy Institute  DB 904 .G387 2004

Czechoslovakia: Official Standard Names Approved by the United States Board on Geographic Names. Washington: Central Intelligence Agency, 1955.  Reading Room   DB 194.5 .U5 1955

Lelkes, György. Magyar Helységnév-Azonosító Szótár. Baja, Hungary: Talma Könyvkiadó, 1998. Modern Hungary gazetteer with cross-reference indices in 9 languages. Genealogy Institute   DB 904 .L44 1998

Majtán, Milan. Názvy obcí Slovenskej republiky: Vývin v rokoch 1773-1997. Bratislava: VEDA, 1998). Slovak Republic gazetteer with place name changes from 1773 to 1997. Genealogy Institute   DB 2708 .M34 1998

Mokotoff, Gary, Sallyann A. Sack, and Alexander Sharon. Where Once We Walked: A Guide to the Jewish Communities Destroyed in the Holocaust -- Revised Edition. Bergenfield, NJ: Avotaynu, 2002. This gazetteer lists towns according to variant spellings and provides the present-day country, map coordinates, and an estimate of their pre-WWII Jewish populations.  Genealogy Institute   DS 135 .E83 M65 2002

The JewishGen website contains three databases that may assist you in finding your ancestor’s town: the Communities Database, the Gazetteer, and the Radius Search.

JewishGen’s Greater Hungary Special Interest Group developed a list of Hungarian towns from the 1877 and 1882 gazetteers, with their corresponding current name, county, and district, German, Yiddish, and other spelling variations, and synagogue name.

László Seböks’s Cross-border Hungarian Place Name Dictionary, an online ethnic Hungarian gazetteer (which includes the modern Slovak Republic), allows you to search for the modern equivalent of a historical Hungarian town name and vice versa.  [Hungarian only]