Curious about your Slovak roots, but don’t know where to being? Not sure how to identify your ancestral town or village, or where to find records online? Below are three simple ways to jumpstart your Slovak genealogy.
1. Utilize FamilySearch. Of course the first step in genealogy is to check home sources and talk to your relatives to determine your Slovak immigrant ancestor’s original name and his or her town/village of origin. But sometimes the information you find is incomplete, skewed by family lore, or perhaps even non-existent. So you will need to go in search of vital, census, immigration, naturalization, and other records. Many of these resources can be found online in free databases on FamilySearch, and on other subscriptions sites (just remember that not everything is online). The good news is that FamilySearch also has record collections from Slovakia that are searchable online. Currently, the two most notable are: Slovakia, Church and Synagogue Books, 1592-1910 and Slovakia, Census, 1869. Access them here. In addition, you should search the FamilySearch catalog—it is one of the best sources for microfilmed records from Slovakia, including parish, military, and census records. You can view the films in person at the library in Salt Lake City, or order films online for viewing at your local Family History Center or partnering library. Be sure to check the Family Search Wiki page for Slovakia. Here you’ll find tips on accessing Slovak vital records beginning Slovak research, and determining a place of origin in Slovakia, many links to records, maps, and more.
2. Scour Other Websites. Today there are websites for every genealogy research interest and Slovak genealogy is no different. Below are a couple of websites to explore.
Cisarik.com. This useful site compiled by Slovak tourist guide/archival researcher Juraj Čisárik, has many interesting resources including: A listing of former counties of Slovakia—Austria-Hungary Empire—prior 1918 (and maps); A listing of current counties in Slovakia today (with a map); a clickable, alphabetical index of all villages in Slovakia; a link to a Carpatho-Rusyn DNA project through Family Tree DNA; Oldslavonic - English Dictionary (5100 words) and English –Old Slavonic Dictionary (5100 words); Information on religions in Slovakia (Roman Catholic, Greek Catholic, Orthodox, Reformed Calvinist, Evangelical Lutheran, and Jewish); Marriage Records of Eastern Slovakia 1865 – 1895; Information about a book on the genealogy of Byzantine priests in Slovakia from 1600-2010 published by Cisarik. (You can see an index of all the names included).
There is quite a bit of content to navigate through but it is very well organized. It’s worth looking through the alphabetical list of marriages. These are selected by surnames of grooms and brides with a current total of 14,735 marriage records. The surnames and first names are written in the old original spelling. If your ancestor’s surname was Americanized it could be spelled differently. You may have to search for various alternatives of a particular surname’s spelling. (Use CTRL+f on a PC or command+F on a Mac to quickly search the listings there). I found the names of the current counties and the former Hungarian counties to be quite helpful when searching for my various ancestral villages.
Slovak Genealogy Research Strategies. Slovak Genealogy Research Strategies is a very informative set of free web pages by Bill Tarkulich that aid English-speaking researchers of immigrants from Eastern Slovakia and surrounding areas. This Web site includes genealogical research strategies, methods and unique resources for people with roots in Eastern Slovakia (Slovak Republic)/formerly Czechoslovakia/formerly Upper Hungary. Primary research areas include those of the Carpathian Mountains, and borderlands of Southern Poland (Galicia) and Western Ukraine (Carpatho-Rus).
The entire site is full of great information, such as present and former place names, a step-by-step guide to using the The 1877 Dvorzsák Gazetteer, and detailed pages on how to locate and acquire church, census, and military records for your Slovak ancestors, as well as a host of sample records. Be sure to take the time to explore the site in its entirety. Bookmark the Quick Reference Toolbox for easy access to key resources on the site.
3. Tap into the Resources of an Ethnic Genealogical Society. If you want to connect with other Slovak researchers, consider joining The Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International (CGSI). CGSI is a society promoting Czechoslovak genealogical research and interest among people with ancestry in the Czechoslovak region as it was in 1918, including families of Czech, Bohemian, Moravian, Slovak, German, Hungarian, Jewish, Rusyn, and Silesian origin.
This organization publishes a quarterly newsletter Nase rodina (Our Family) , holds a bi-annual national conference in a location with a strong Czech and Slovak history (the next conference will be October 17-21, 2017 in Pittsburgh, PA), a Fall Annual Meeting, and symposiums. There are members-only databases available on the society’s website as well as a message board and surname database. You can also check out the CGSI Facebook page.
To learn more about these and other resources for Slovak genealogy, watch the webinar on Beginning Slovak Genealogy Research available to Legacy Family Tree Webinar subscribers.
You can also pick up a copy of the Legacy Family Tree QuickGuide on Slovak Genealogy.
Lisa A. Alzo, M.F.A. is a freelance writer, instructor and internationally recognized lecturer specializing in Eastern European genealogy, writing your family history, and finding female and immigrant ancestors. She is the author of 10 books, including The Family Tree Polish, Czech and Slovak Genealogy Guide, and the award-winning Three Slovak Women. Lisa is a frequent speaker for Legacy Family Tree Webinars, and blogs at The Accidental Genealogist. She can be reached at http://www.lisaalzo.com.