I love old photos. They make history come alive. Names in my family tree get a face. Although, you sometimes may not know all names of the persons in a photo.
I have a photo of my ancestors who emigrated from Austria to Buffalo in 1913. The photo shows my Austrian ancestors Anton Hetzendorfer, Florian Hetzendorfer as well as Ernst August Surborg from Germany playing music together with other persons I do not know.
I would really like to know the names of the unknown members of the music group. The photo must have been taken around 1915 in Buffalo.
I tried to find persons who lived in Buffalo through online databases – without success. Then, I tried searching for „Buffalo“ and „Zither“ (the instrument played in the photo). I found a page http://www.zither.us where a story is told about Buffalo Zither Clubs. There was a photo of such a „Buffalo Zither Club“ taken in 1917 which really showed one of the persons who was also in my photo! I was excited!
And I was even more lucky, the page stated the name of that person:
„Josef Mayerhofer (..) was born in Dingolfing, Germany, in 1875.“
I think, there is also a second Zither player in that picture who is in my photo as well, but no name was given form him.
I would not have thought it possible to identify the people in my photo, but it actually worked!
A real treasure chest for researchers of family history are historic newspapers. At ANNO (Austrian Newspapers Online, a digitalization initiative of the Austrian National Library) you can search through the text of an enormous amount of historic newspapers and magazines from 1689-1945. ANNO does not only include Austrian Newspapers, but papers from all over Europe, some even in other languages like English, French, Italian or Polish.
Yesterday, I found out through ANNO that my Great-great-grandmother, Josefa Korinek was the eldest woman in Vienna when she died in 1939, aged 103. I was thrilled to read through the story of her life and there were even two photographs!
Source: ANNO/Austrian National Library, Illustrierte Kronen Zeitung 6.3.1938, page 6
If you want to try ANNO, go to the ANNO Search page and enter the name you are looking for in the the field “Suche:” (Suche is Search in German). You can use search operators such as:
“First Name Last Name” will search for exactly this expression
“First Name, Last Name”~5 will do a context search where the two words are not more than 5 words apart (I mostly use this search with a family name and the name of a village).
Good luck searching! I hope you will get new information!
Austrian Roman Catholic Church Books are the main source for Family History Research in Austria. This post marks the start of a series explaining how to find information you are looking for in Austrian church records:
Part 1: Finding the right Roman Catholic Diocese
Austria is divided into nine Roman-Catholic dioceses by territory. There is also one special military diocese. The area of this dioceses is similar to those of the nine Federal States, but not identical. Particularly the Archdiocese of Vienna covers extensive parts of Lower Austria.
Each diocese has many parishes that in turn were responsible for keeping personal records such as baptismal records, weddings and deaths until 1938.
How do you find online records for dioceses? In the following you will find links to online records:
- Matricula – www.matricula-online.eu
offers records for the Archdiocese of Vienna and of Salzburg as well as the dioceses of St.Pölten (Lower Austria), Linz (Upper Austria), Feldkirch (Vorarlberg) and Gurk-Klagenfurt (Carinthia).
While Viennese, Lower and Upper Austrian and Vorarlberg records are complete, the digitalisation of records of the other dioceses is in progress and new records are constantly being added.
- Styrian records (Dioceses Graz-Seckau) are completely digitalised and are available here:
- The records for Tyrol can be found here:
- The records for the diocese Burgenland are not digitalised. However, as this part of Austria was actually part of Hungary until 1921, records might possibly be found in the Hungarian records for the dioceses Györ/Raab und Szombathely/Steinamanger.
Many records are also available here on Family search (www. familysearch.org)
There is extensive information about Austrian church records online on the Homepage of Familia Austria, a genealogical association. This information is only available in German, though.
I am sure, some readers now have the legitimate question: „How do I know, which diocese is the right one for the village/city that I am looking for?“
I will show you in the next part of my series. But here is a sneak preview: We will use the gazetteer of Genteam (www.genteam.at). The site is free, but you have to register to use it – it is worth it, though, as there is a lot of information available there.
Please come visit my blog again for upcoming sequels:
Part 2: Finding the right Parish
Part 3: Finding the right Church Book
Part 4: Finding the right Entry
Part 5: Information given in Baptismal Records
Part 6: Information given in Marriage Records
Part 7: Information given in Death Records
Part 8: Other Religious confessions
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Here is another feature of my blog – I hope, you like it!
I will also use my blog to introduce my ancestors, starting with:
Leopoldine Hetzendorfer (maiden name Hofbauer) was born in 1854 in the Northern area of Lower Austria. Age 24, she married Anton Hetzendorfer whith whom she had seven children. In 1904, her husband passed away.
In 1913 (when she was 58 years old), the emigrated with most of her children to the US. From Ellis island records (Ellis Island Passenger Search) I know, that her ship “Barbarossa” was sailing from Bremen, Germany to New York. The emigrants founded a weaving mill in Buffalo.
Leopoldine Hetzendorfer returned home in 1943, aged 88 where she passed away.
She and her family have introduced me to American genealogical research which is again fascinating, although different from Austrian, as it is more based on census records and civil registration (at least as far as I can tell) whereas in Austria, the main information was recorded in Church books.
Do you also have ancestors who emigrated from Austria? I’d love to hear their story!
When researching ancestors in Austria, the following links might prove extremely useful:
ICARUS is a non-profit association with more than 160 archives and similar institutions from more than 30 European countries, the USA and Canada as members.
They offer various online-sites. For starting research in Austria, the most important is “Matricula”. http://icar-us.eu/cooperation/online-portals/matricula
This site provides access to Austrian (and international) church books and is also available in English.
- Familia Austria
Familia Austria is an Austrian association aiming at promoting genealogy in the area of the former Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy.
Some information provided there is free, other is tied to a membership.
The site is in German, though.
GenTeam is a loose association of independent genealogists who cooperate to fill data bases. The site is free (registration required), it is however also in German.
- ANNO – AustriaN Newspapers Online
ANNO is provided by the Austrian National Library. There, you can search online in historic newspapers.
Family Search, the World’s leading organisation for genealogical research, provides also a lot of documents and information relating to Austria.
This data base requires payment, but there are quite a lot Austrian family trees online.
There are of course numerous other sources for information. However the ones listed above have proven to be the most helpful for starting research in Austria.
I will in due course provide help on how to use non-English sites.