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A Step by Step Guide

So here is a set of proven steps to follow to find records for a specific Czech-born ancestor:

  1. Find where the ancestor was born or lived
  2. Find which archive (there are 7) holds the records
  3. Learn how to use that archive
    • Find what registers the archive has on-line
    • Find an index and use it
  • Retrieve the record – then the fun begins

Step 1 – Finding the Town
Step 1 is the fundamental starting point for any search.  If the location where the ancestor was born or lived is known, you can move on to the next steps.  However if not, you will need to identify the village or town where the ancestor came from.  There are several ways to go about this.  First, family documents, marriage, birth & baptismal certificates will sometimes provide the needed information. Family bibles, passports, and old letters are other likely sources.  Living ancestors may recall their birthplaces or those of ancestors.  U.S. Census records can identify when an ancestor emigrated and other family members living together.  Lastly, ship arrival registers, many of which are well-indexed, often list the destination and the origin of the traveler. 

Step 2 -- Finding the Archive
With the name of the village or town in hand, proceed to Step 2 and determine the specific archive containing the records.  To do that, try to locate the ancestral village or town on a map. Google Maps or mapy.cz can typically provide a good start at locating the town on the map.  The best paper local maps that show region (kraj) and district (okres) borders are available from local Czech tourist offices and shops in the Czech Republic.  With Google Maps, mapy.cz or the paper local maps, locate the village/town and identify the region, district and most important, the corresponding Archival District.  The Archival District archive is where early (roughly pre-1900) birth, death and marriage records are filed. Early land records, also available in the archives, can be another source for discovering ancestors and related family members. More recent records, (roughly post-1900) are recorded in the district principal town archives.  These towns roughly corresponding with a county seat in the U.S.  The charts below show the Archival District that corresponds with each region and lists each local district that also contains more recent records.  The regional chief towns are where regional governments are located.  The districts (Okres) are named for their principal city, where the local district archive (matriky) is located. The district archive is where the more recent records (post-1900) can be located.  So far there are no internet archives available for the local district archives.