Working with Austrian Church Books – Part 1: Finding the right Diocese

Working with Austrian Church Books – Part 1: Finding the right Diocese

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:
    http://matriken.graz-seckau.at
  • The records for Tyrol can be found here:
    https://apps.tirol.gv.at/bildarchiv/#14502836723930
  • 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

Kurrent Script – Old German Script

Church books are very often written in Kurrent (Old German Script). At first glance, it looks like a secret code. However, it is not so difficult to read it – all you need is a little practice. Nevertheless, be careful – what looks like an “f” could easily be an “s” 😉!

Here’s how it works:
kurrentschrift

On this website, there are further tables with variations:http://www.deutsche-kurrentschrift.de/index.php?s=abc_fraktur

The readability is not improved by the fact that some handwritings are really difficult to read. In the beginning, there is certainly a degree of guessing involved, but I promise: It gets better!

And to start your training, here is the first of what I intend to make a series of: the Kurrent challenge! Can you read the following words (easy ones!)?

bildschirmfoto-2017-02-05-um-22-42-50

By the way, I am using a great tool for conversion into Kurrent: http://www.kurrentschrift.net/index.php?s=schreiben

Leopoldine Hetzendorfer (Hofbauer)

Here is another feature of my blog – I hope, you like it!

I will also use my blog to introduce my ancestors, starting with:

hetzendorfer_leopoldine

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!

Useful Links for Genealogical Research in Austria

When researching ancestors in Austria, the following links might prove extremely useful:

  • ICARUS/Matricula
    http://icar-us.eu/
    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
    http://www.familia-austria.at
    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
    http://www.genteam.at
    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
    http://anno.onb.ac.at
    ANNO is provided by the Austrian National Library. There, you can search online in historic newspapers.
  • Familysearch
    https://familysearch.org
    Family Search, the World’s leading organisation for genealogical research, provides also  a lot of documents and information relating to Austria.
  • myheritage
    https://www.myheritage.at
    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.