Legacy Tree Genealogists works with researchers all over the world to access records. We asked Helena from the Czech Republic to write this post, discussing what it’s like to research at the Chodovec Archive Complex in Prague. Take a look!
At the outskirts of Prague, you can find a giant building complex housing three large archives – three genealogical eggs in one basket! Completed in 2001, it has research rooms, conference halls, exhibition areas and even a cinema hall, and is one of the largest and most state-of-the-art archival buildings in Europe. If you are doing research about ancestors from Prague or the Central Bohemia region, this is the place you most definitely need to visit. The archives in Prague maintain some of the most important and valuable historical files (e.g. the Czech Crown Archives, containing documents as old as the 12th century) but we will focus here on several collections that are more likely to help in building your family trees.
The first of the three archives we visit is the National Archives (http://www.nacr.cz/eindex.htm). Amongst their enormous collections, you can find the following:
- Conscriptions and Applications for Residence Permits of the Prague Police Headquarters – This collection contains more than half a million registration sheets (mostly from 1850-1914), each containing a wealth of information. For every listed family you can find names of parents and children, addresses where they lived, occupations, birthdates, date and place of wedding and death, etc.
- Inventories of the Jewish population in Bohemia – These were censuses which enumerated the Jews in Bohemia, and were taken in the years 1723–1811. This source of information is quite unique in character and is crucial when you are doing research on Jewish ancestors living in Bohemia in the 18th and early 19th centuries.
- Registers of Births, Marriages, and Deaths of Jewish Communities (1784-1949) – In contrast to other vital records collections that are held by local state regional archives, Jewish vital records are here in the National Archives.
- Archives of the National Maternity Hospital – At the time of its founding in 1875, it was probably the largest maternity hospital in Europe and also the largest Bohemian foundling hospital. The majority of illegitimate children born in Prague and Central Bohemia were born here and this archive file often has vital information about their birth and early life.
The second archive in the complex is the State Regional Archive of Prague. Its jurisdiction covers the geographic area of Prague and Central Bohemia. It has a modern, large research room with space for 57 researchers at a time, as well as 15 microfiche readers, 8 computers, a wi-fi network, a well-stocked research library and very pleasant and helpful employees. You can find here all the documents you would expect from any Czech state regional archive, which mainly consist of the following:
- Parish and Civil Registry Books – Ecclesiastial vital records from the Central Bohemia region (except for the city of Prague itself, which are held at the City Archives to be described shortly).
- Archives of Feudal Estates (Karlštejn, Křivoklát etc.) – These contain land registers, books of contracts, registers of serfs, etc.
The third and final archive is the Prague City Archives (http://www.ahmp.cz/eng/index.html). With a separate entrance, fewer researchers, a smaller research room and generally quieter environment, there is a more intimate atmosphere here. Here you can find the following:
- Prague Population Register – This collection contains a record of persons domiciled in Prague in years 1830–1910. There are fewer listed names than in the Conscriptions mentioned earlier, but there is even more information – often the parents of listed persons are mentioned.
- Collections of Old Prague, Maps and Plans – This includes a map by Josef Jüttner from 1816, Prague district maps by Alfred Hurtig from the end of the 19th century, and many more. You will need these when attempting to find the location in Prague where your ancestors actually lived.
- Parish and Civil Registry Books – Once again, ecclesiastical vital records from all inner and outer Prague districts.
This is, of course, only a small sample of what can be found at the Chodovec Archives complex, meant to give an idea of its many uses. Specific research goals on the part of each individual client may necessitate the use of other, more specific record types.
Do you have ancestry from Bohemia/the Czech Republic? Legacy Tree Genealogists would love to send Helena (or one of our other researchers) to the archives on your behalf to obtain the records you need. Contact us today by phone or email to speak with a project manager about your goals. The initial consultation is completely free!