Place of Origin Locator

by Thomas Zahn - 2005-04-19
The following list of sources is suggested as a reference from which to create a database for the express purpose of locating historical places of origin when provided only with a family’s surname. The intent of this database is primarily as a tool to assist genealogical researchers with the difficult task of establishing the location(s) where families lived prior to emigration. This is particularly necessary in the cases where families have only general data concerning the place of origin (i.e. Bohemia, Austria, Prague, etc.), and no further research can be done without more specific data. These sources have thus been chosen on the basis of the large number of surnames they contain, accompanied by dates and locations.

It is the aim of this project to use these sources to map the overall incidents of specific family names, during a particular historic period (17th to 20th century), to the geographic locations where they occurred. Care was taken not to include sources, such as telephone directories, where there could be legal concerns pertaining to personal data protection. This is not intended as a complete source for genealogical research, but instead only as a reference, to help provide direction.

1.    Soupis Poddaných Podle Víry z roku 1651 – This source contains lists of serfs by village, pánstvý, house number, family name, occupation, and religion. It should be noted that the orthography of spelling of family names was not stable, and some variations need to be taken into account.

2.    Berní Rula – Roll of Assesmaents from 17th Century – This source contains lists of farm owners from roughly the same period as the Soupis, however, it is a more complete list, comprising a larger area, with fewer orthographical errors. Data is organized according to Kraj, Panství, village, occupation, and family name.

3.    Soupis židovských rodin v Čechách z roku 1793 – Specific to Jewish family history, this is another list persons organized by Kraj, village, family name and origin.

4.    Popis králowství Českého – 19th century list of villages and towns, with the names of inhabitants (only a few). This may need to be substituted, or complimented by, another 19th century source (i.e., stabilní katestr).

5.    Českě katolické osady v Americe 1865 – 1890 – List of persons and families organized by their settlements in the US, and making reference to their places of origin. Not an extensive list of surnames as the others, but useful in making a connection to distinct regions in the Czech lands.

6.    Adresáře – These are from the late 19th and early 20th century. They pertain mostly to large towns, and list only the names of persons connected with particular commercial trades.

7.    Českoslovenští Legionáři – Separate books containing lists of the soldiers who died during the first world war. These books are organized by district (Okres), and include brief biography of commanders, and lists by place of birth, surnames and date of birth of all conscripts who fell.