TYPES OF ARCHIVAL AND OTHER DOCUMENTS AS A SOURCE FOR GENEALOGICAL RESEARCH
1. Genealogical Research in the World
Genealogical research started in France in the second half of the 19th century, since when in France there has been a private Association for Genealogical Research, not only for the research within France, but for the research in the entire world. This Association now also conducts the genealogical research in Croatia as well.
After the Second World War the interest for genealogical research increased, particularly in the United States of America. The Genealogical Association of Salt Lake City, Utah (USA) is the most famous genealogical association in the USA and in the world. This Association has organised microfilming of registers of births, marriages and deaths and other archival materials rich in genealogical data in many countries in the world. The programme of microfilming of the registers of births, marriages and deaths and the related documentation is being continued by the Genealogical Association of Utah and extended worldwide. It is only natural that the interest for the genealogical research is as big in the USA, since it is a young and rich country whose population is composed of all the races and all the religions from all the continents. This is the reason why such a heterogeneous population searches for its roots in the entire world.
However, there are many other associations in the world dealing with the genealogical research, such as associations in Western Europe, but also in some of the countries of Eastern Europe.
2. Research in Croatia
During the last two centuries Croatian people were also emigrating to many countries of the world, especially countries of the Northern and Southern America, to Australia and New Zealand, as well as to European countries.
A significant number of these Croatian emigrants now feel an urge to determine their origin, i.e. their ancestors’ roots, and therefore the origin of our people is being increasingly researched on the basis of the archival and other documentation.
In the archives of the Republic of Croatia there are rich collections of birth, death and marriage registers. These collections have been compiled since 1949/1950 when the registers of births, marriages and deaths were withdrawn from the parish archives pursuant to stipulations of the then authorities.
From the very start of the takeover of the births, marriages and deaths registers by the archives a need appeared for the data from these registers to be used and researched for the needs of state registrar’s offices, parish offices (from which they were taken), but also for the needs of individual researchers.
Upon the receipt of the registers of births, marriages and deaths, the archives made lists for registers of births (baptisms), marriages and deaths according to religious denominations, catholic and orthodox parishes, i.e. settlements. These lists immediately served users and researchers as an archival tool.
When the registers were taken over in the archives there were some which needed to be identified since they were damaged and the covers with basic data were missing.
2.1. Restoration and Microfilming of the Registers of Births, marriages and deaths
With the increase in interest in the registers of births, marriages and deaths the archival officers started to consider the protection of registers – this valuable archival material – from the frequent usage by users and researchers. A part of the registers of births, marriages and deaths was restored, especially in the archives, which owned restoration workshops, such as the ones in Dubrovnik, Zagreb, Pazin and Split. By opening microfilm photo-laboratories, first in Dubrovnik in 1953, then in Zagreb in 1957 and later on in Varaždin, Zadar, Rijeka and Pazin, the safety and protection microfilming of the registers of births, marriages and deaths commenced.
The programme of the systematic microfilming of the registers of births, marriages and deaths was extended also to the microfilming of the remaining registers of births, marriages and deaths from the church archives and civilian registrar’s offices. The majority of all registers of births, marriages and deaths in the Republic of Croatia have already been photographed. There are approximately 18000 photographed registers of all religious denominations, as well as registers of military personal from the territory of the Republic of Croatia. More than 2 million sets of photographs were made.
2.2. Safeguarding and Usage of the Microfilms
A set of microfilms consists of master negatives, a negative copy (DP-Duplicating Processing) and several slide copies.
The master negative is kept as a backup copy of the original in case the original goes missing. This backup copy is kept in a special safety registry near Zagreb. The negative copy, which is made by a direct (contact) procedure, is kept in the Central Laboratory for Micrography and Reprography of the Croatian State Archives (Hrvatski državni arhiv – HDA) and is used for making further copies of negatives or slides.
In the micro-reading room of the HDA in Zagreb a copy of the slide is used for the needs of users and researchers. Regional state archives in Croatia use for their needs the second copy of the slide of the registers of births, marriages and deaths from their area.
Only rarely are the researchers entitled to use the originals, i.e. only exceptionally, when the microphotograph copy is illegible can the original be inspected.
2.3. Users and Researchers of Genealogical Material in the Archives of the Republic of Croatia
The interest in genealogical research in the archives of the Republic of Croatia increased during the last decades. At the beginning there were a few researchers who used registers of births, marriages and deaths for research of birth-rates, death-rates, population emigration and immigration. Individual researchers, searching for the data about their origins, their roots, mainly in order to draw a genealogical family tree were also rather rare. Lately, genealogical research in the archives of Croatia comprises 25% of all research. Upon arrival in the archives, the users are given information on registers of births, marriages and deaths and on other documentation with genealogical contents kept outside the state archives.
Namely, materials containing genealogical information are kept in various church archives, museums, libraries, but also with private persons.
3. Collections of Documents with Genealogical Contents in Croatian Archives
In addition to the collections of registers of births, marriages and deaths taken over in the state archives in 1949/1950, individual archives also have at their disposal other documentation relevant for genealogical research: a collection of genealogical trees, a collection of obituaries, court documents, documents of the cadastre and geodetic authorities and documents from school archives, family archives, and the like.
3.1. Collection of Genealogical Trees
A collection of genealogical trees of famous persons is kept in HDA. This collection was created by collecting data by individual archival officers, especially previous heads of HDA, such as Ivan pl. Bojničić and Emilije Laszowsky and the senior archivist – genealogists Bartol Zmajić. The head of HDA, Ivan pl. Bojničić searched for genealogical data which he needed for writing a book on Croatian and Slavonian nobility “Adel von Kroatien und Slavonien”. The head of HDA, Emilije Laszowsky assisted Bojničić in writhing the book and wrote a book entitled “Povijest plemenite općine turopoljske” and on this occasion browsed the documents in the state archives, but also in the archives of the Turopolje magistrates courts and the archives of the famous families from the Turopolje area. Mr. Bartol Zmajić was one of the most famous genealogists in Croatia who also collected a number of documents with genealogical data. He obtained them when numerous researchers were coming to HDA. He was also himself completing and correcting the data and kept them in order in his private legacy.
3.2. Collection of Obituaries
A respectable collection of obituaries is kept in the Croatian State Archives. This collection was compiled by collecting obituaries by the employees of the Archives of the persons who were considered to have played an important role in Croatian society.
The Archives obtained a part of the obituaries from the immediate or wider families of the deceased or the collection was increased by donations or purchases.
3.3. Family Archives
Numerous family archives are kept in the archives of the Republic of Croatia. In the family archives there are often many data on individual family members. Personal documentation can contain excerpts for individual family members from the registers of births, marriages and deaths. There are certificates, diplomas and other personal documentation. It is not rare that there are wills and contracts on sharing of the inheritance containing genealogical data.
3.4. Court Archives
In various municipal, county, town and other courts there are preserved registers of legal documents with genealogical data, especially inheritance sharing procedures containing data on owners and heirs through several generations.
3.5. Archives of Geodetic Authorities in the Republic of Croatia
In certain archives in the Republic of Croatia, in addition to other archival materials, there is also the documentation taken over from the geodetic authorities. HDA took over the archives from the geodetic authorities for the Northern Croatia, the State Archives in Split took the corresponding documentation of the geodetic authorities for the area of Dalmatia. In this material there are interesting data on owners of individual plots, which were allocated during the course of time to new owners either in the inheritance sharing procedures or by sale.
3.6. School Archives
Regional archives in the Republic of Croatia took over older archives (until 1962) of primary and secondary schools. In this documentation there are also documents of genealogical nature, such as attendance registers with first names and family names of parents and pupils.
The Croatian State Archives in Zagreb also took over a part of the archive of the Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb. In this archives there are also the so-called “nacionali”, the personal data forms filled in for the first year students also including the data on their parents.
4. Archival Materials for Genealogical Research outside the State Archives
4.1. Civil Registrars’ Offices
In the registrar’s offices there are the registers of births, marriages and deaths taken over from the church archives, as a rule since 1878, but there are also some from previous years. These registers of births, marriages and deaths were necessary for the registrar’s offices in order for them to be able to provide data on persons born in the period from 1878 until 1946, i.e. until the time when civilian registers of births, marriages and deaths started to be compiled.
Since 1946, i.e. since the year of the takeover, 1949/1950, the registers of births, marriages and deaths continue to be compiled in parallel also in church communities.
4.2. Church Archives
The richest archives with genealogical data are the archives of dioceses. In principle all these archives own parallel registers for the 19th and 20th centuries. These parallel registers for the Republic of Croatia are very valuable. They replace the original registers of births, marriages and deaths for such parishes in which the registers of births, marriages and deaths were destroyed or disappeared during the Second World War. Some parallel registers replaced the registers of births, marriages and deaths, which disappeared in the Homeland War from 1991 until 1995, and even until 1997.
In addition a part of the original registers of births, marriages and deaths are kept in the church archives, which for unknown reasons were not taken over in the state archives in 1949/1950.
The parish archives own the so-called status animarum, anagraphs or registers of parishioners. These registers are valuable and can almost completely replace the original registers of births, marriages and deaths. There are data on family members from the second half of the 18th century until today. It is important that in the same place there are the data on the birth, marriage and death for each member and sometimes for 5 to 6 generations. Parish priests also maintained registers of church preparations for brides and bridegrooms. These registers also contain important data on brides and bridegrooms, such as first names and family names, dates of birth and data on the parents of the bride and the bridegroom. When registers of births, marriages and deaths, status animarum, anagraphs or similar registers are not available, the data from the registers of church preparation can be used as corresponding data.
In some parishes the so-called “Aniversaria” register is maintained. These are the registers of annual holy masses for the deceased. Dates on the birth and death of the deceased can be also found here. These are the most frequent registers with genealogical data which are kept in the parish archives. However, some parish archives keep also the registers of confirmations. In these registers there are data on the birth of persons undergoing confirmation, their parents and sponsors. Therefore, the genealogists must not avoid the parish archives, because they have at their disposal a very rich fund of data.
However, sometimes, when parish priests are scarce, parishes are run by various church orders such as Franciscans, Jesuits, Dominicans and other church orders. In such cases the registers of births, marriages and deaths were not supposed to be kept in parish archives but in various monasteries which preserved the registers of status animarum, anagraphs and other.
4.3. Grave Archives
Some bigger towns own special grave archives. In Zagreb documents on funerals on the Mirogoj Cemetary are kept since the end of the 19th century. In these archives there are data on the deceased, the owner of the gravesite and the data on persons who reported the death of the deceased, and also the data on changes of the owner of the grave. When other data are not available the grave inscriptions can serve the purpose.
5. Various Tools for Genealogical Research
Various schematisms of individual church organisations and communities are also valuable in genealogical research. Data on how long the registers of births, marriages and deaths of an individual catholic or orthodox parish or some other church community existed are written in these registers.
5.2. Telephone Directories
Old telephone directories can also sometimes serve as a means of search for genealogical data, and the search is indeed very simple since the data are systematized and ordered by alphabetical order of settlements, and within them according to the last names.
5.3. Offices for Registering the Residence
Such offices used to maintain the data on living and residence of each inhabitant. Filing cards contained the data on the birth of every citizen, and sometimes the data on the parents and the data on the landlord.
5.4. Inventory Register of the HDA Microteque
HDA maintains an inventory register on photographed archival material, including the photographed registers of births, marriages and deaths, registers of censuses, status animarum, anagraphs and the like.
This inventory register contains the data on the name of the settlement, i.e. the catholic or orthodox parish and other church community, the time span to which the data refer, the number of photographs or pages. On the basis of the data in the inventory register it is very easy to retrieve an appropriate microfilm role.
The same data are also stored on electronic media (floppy disks and CD-ROMs).
5.5. Other Sources of Data for Genealogical Research
In addition to the enumerated sources also the population censuses kept in statistical bureaus and voters registers as well as other sources, which are difficult to name, can serve for genealogical research.
6. Useful Information for the Population of the Republic of Slovenia and its Emigrants
In the Republic of Croatia there are data of genealogical nature also for Slovenes.
Many registers of births, marriages and deaths have been preserved for the border areas with Slovenia, especially for the area of a part of Međimurje and Istria. There are lists of the registers of births, marriages and deaths kept in Hungary and Italy.
7. Languages and Scripts in which the Material is Written
All the abovementioned materials serving genealogical research are written in the following languages: Latin, Croatian, German, Italian, Hungarian, and even French for the data during the French administration from 1808 until 1813.
In order to be able to use the abovementioned materials it is necessary to know also various lettering since these data are written in the following scripts: the Latin script, the Glagolitic script, the Bosnian Cyrillic script, the Cyrillic script and the Gothic script. This is understandable since the data have been compiled during a long period of time and history and during big political changes.
In his paper the author tries to inform the readers on the care for genealogic research in the Republic of Croatia, especially about the sources of data for this research.
In the archives of the Republic of Croatia there is a rich archival documentation with relevant data for genealogical research. It is emphasised that the old registers of births, marriages and deaths were taken over from the catholic and orthodox parishes’ and other religious communities’ archives in 1949/1950. Then, there are several collections in the archives, such as the genealogical collections, collections of obituaries, family archives and other documentation of genealogical nature.
The author informs the interested individuals that for genealogical research they can turn also to the church archives in which there are primarily the registers of status animarum and anagraphs which are rich in genealogical data.
Finally, he encloses a bibliography important for genealogical research, especially in the Republic of Croatia.