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Genealogy Guide: Hungary

Brief History

Hungary (or Magyarorszag) is like most European countries; its borders have changed considerably over time. In 1690 the Austrian Hapsburgs completed the reconquest of Hungary and Transylvania from the Ottoman Turks. From 1867 to 1918, Hungary achieved autonomy within the “Dual Monarchy,” or Austro-Hungarian Empire, as well as full control over Transylvania. After World War I, the territory of “Greater Hungary” was much reduced, so that areas that were formerly under Hungarian jurisdiction are today located within the borders of Romania, Ukraine, Slovakia, Poland, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, and Yugoslavia (Serbia). Hungary regained control over some of these areas during World War II, but lost them again in 1945.

Regions that belonged to the Kingdom of Hungary before the Treaty of Trianon (1920): Burgenland (Austria), Carpathian Ruthenia (from 1920 to 1938 part of Czechoslovakia, now Ukraine), Medimurje/Murakoz (Croatia), Prekmuje/Muravidek (Slovenia), Transylvania/Erdely-inc. Banat (Romania), Crisana/Partium (Romania), Maramures/Maramaros (Romania), Szeklerland/Szekelyfold (Romania); Upper Hungary/Felvidek (Slovakia); Vojvodina/Vajdasag (Serbia, Croatia); Croatia (Croatia), Slavonia (Croatia); Separate division- Fiume (nowadays Rijeka, Croatia).

How to Begin

Follow the general guidelines in our fact sheets on starting your family history research, immigration records, naturalization records, and finding your ancestral town. Determine whether your town is still within modern-day Hungary and in which county (megye) and district (jaras) it is located. If the town is not in modern Hungary, see our fact sheet for the country where it is currently located. A word of caution: Many towns in Hungary have the same name and, to distinguish among them, a prefix is usually added based upon the county or a nearby city or river. For example, some of the 15 variations on "Nagyfalu" (literally, "Big Village") are: Apanagyfalu, Dravanagyfalu, Havasnagyfalu, Ipolynagyfalu, Losoncnagyfalu, Nyitranagyfalu, and Tiszanagyfalu. The following resources are extremely helpful for locating towns: Magyarorszag Helysegnevtara ket Kotetben, 1877. LDS microfiche #6000340-1, microfilm #s 599564 (v.1) and 973041 (v.2). This gazetteer provides each town’s Jewish population and synagogue location.