||CZECH MAIL LIST ON ROOTSWEB
This website was created to help those searching for family in the Czech lands which in English are named Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia. This may also include the border regions between the present day Czech Republic and Germany, Poland, Slovakia, and Austria. These territories are historically known as the Czech Crown Lands of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Between 1918 to 1939 and then between 1945 to 1993 this region was the western part of the former country known as Czechoslovakia.
Germany occupied most of Czechoslovakia on 15 March 1939 and Czechia was declared a protectorate of Germany (the Protektorat Böhmen-Mähren or Protectorate of Bohemia-Moravia). German occupation was a period of brutal oppression for the Czechs of Bohemia and Moravia.
On December 31, 1992, Czechoslovakia once again ceased to exist for the second time in the same century. What was formerly Bohemia and Moravia now comprised the new Czech Republic.
Confusion occurs when researchers use terms such as "Bohemian" to describe their ancestors. It is important to keep ethnic identity separate from geographic locations, especially when one considers that recorded family histories stretch back 300 years or more. All persons from Bohemia are not Czechs and all Czechs are certainly not from Bohemia!
The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1993 announced that the name Czechia (Česko in Czech), rather then Czech Republic, be used in all situations other than formal, official documents. Czechia then would historically consist of Čechy (Bohemia), Morava (Moravia), and Slask (Silesia). In German these areas would historically be called Böhmen, Mähren, and Schlesien respectively.
Anyone wanting to do research in or learn more about this region of Central Europe is welcome to join the mail list.
Submissions should include full surnames in capital letters and include any known dates and locations. Use historical names when designating locations rather than "Czechoslovakia" or "Czech Republic". Remember that most ancestors arrived before 1918 which is the year that the former Crownlands were combined into the republic of Czechoslovakia. Also, do not use abbreviations like "Czech" which has no meaning as far as any historical location. It is helpful to include the religion (if known).
CZECH-L Archives on Rootsweb.
The Rootsweb Mailing List Archives can be a valuable source of information. Type in the name "CZECH" (not case sensitive). In the "Query" box type any topic of interest. Boolean operators such as "and" and "or" work and help narrow down a search. Two terms without an operator will search as if the "and" operator is being used. Examples are provided.
Information posted on the Czech Mail List can be "browsed" using this link.CZECH-L Archives (June 2000 - Present)
Query Form for posting a question to the CZECH Mail List without
subscribing to the list.
Be advised that this query will be reveiwed and will not be posted to the list unless it applies to Czech family history research. Also, your query is subject to possible editing and you will not be notified when your question is posted.
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Anyone who has tried to trace an immigrant ancestor born in Central and Eastern Europe usually finds that the earlier they arrived in the United States, the harder it is it is to locate copies of written documentation. If an immigrant arrived before 1850, it becomes very difficult unless that individual brought specific records with them to this country.
It is for this reason that it is extremely important to interview as many family members as possible in order to identify any possible records. Ironically, many of these records are kept and passed down through maternal lines. Unfortunately, after several generations, the significance becomes more obscure and sometimes these documents are lost forever. Anyone who has been actively seeking family information for any period of time can relate at least one horror story how important records were destroyed or lost by careless family members.
Without written records, then one is left to deal with oral "lore". Most of the oral history we receive is only partially true. After being retold and embellished, the facts may be so distorted, that it can lead one on a "wild goose chase" that eventually ends up at a "brick wall". Sometimes it is necessary to go back and totally diregard the "lore" and start the fact finding process all over again.
Of course, what any researcher of Czech ancestors is looking for is the correct spelling of their surname(s) and the village of birth. Without this information, it is virtually hopeless to go any further. Essentially all one can do is try to locate an unknown branch of the family and hope someone there has records. Knowledge of what country they were born in or even a city they lived in is not enough. Czech Archival records are based on church parishes, so without knowing the village (parish) and even possibly the religion, searching is impossible. Be advised that there are no surname indexes to Czech Archival records.
Start with what you know. Write or talk to members of the family you are working on. Ask them about family names, where they lived, when they immigrated, what village they came from realizing that facts become distorted with time. Spellings and place names have changed due to two major world wars. Also remember that memory fades and most persons are uncomfortable talking about the scoundrel who was their grandparent.
For a more detailed understanding of the problems facing anyone wanting to do research in Czech Crown Lands, refer to Ancestry research in the lands of the former Austrian-Hungarian Dual-Monarchy by Ing. Felix Gundacker at IHFF
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Elaine T.Maddox Listowner