If you are of Czech or Slovak heritage and are considering tracing your family roots, here are five tips that will help make the process easier. The genealogical process is as fascinating as much as it can be frustrating, so use these Czech genealogy tips to help you find your family tree...
Tip #1: Start With What You Know
Many people struggle with where to start on a genealogy project. The key is to gather all the facts you already know and document them.
Even if you are hazy on details, write down what you think you know. Examples include as much as you know about your grandparents, great grandparents, and beyond. Dates of birth, location of birth, and other basic demographic information is an excellent start.
Tip #2: Going Beyond What You Know
Ultimately, you'll hit a dead end with your own personal knowledge. This is where the work (fun?) starts. You will need to go to outside resources pertaining to the Czech community. One such place is the Czech-Slovak Genealogical Society of Illinois, an excellent starting (and often finishing) point for research of this nature.
Other sources can include church records, military records, marriage, and funeral information. Your local county offices can be an excellent source.
Tip #3: Getting Local
Often, the biggest hurdle for genealogical research is finding the village where your ancestors were born. To help you, we recommend a visit to your local Family History Center, which is managed by the Mormon church. They have microfilmed many historical records from the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
You will want to search the birth, death, and marriage records. Many times, this will lead you specifically to the village.
Tip #4: Hiring A Czech Researcher
Another way to short cut the process is to hire a researcher in the Czech Republic. Obviously, a local researcher will have greater access to records and may be able to cut months or even years off your search.
Most genealogical societies will guide you toward finding a qualified researcher. If you have done a bit of leg work yourself ahead of time, the cost should not be too prohibitive.
Tip #5: Be Patient
Like any type of records research, tracing your Czech-Slovak roots will take time. Be patient, especially if you are relying on the work of others. Special requests often need accommodating, and further, you will be dealing with government or civic agencies.
Another factor is that most Czech records only go back to 1750 at the earliest, because churches didn't keep records before then. An astute local researcher might be able to source additional information via local history books and other data.
Your reward will be well worth your time and effort! Use these five steps as a guideline and you will be well on your way to discovering your Czech and Slovak ancestry.
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