In 1563 the Council of Trent ordered to catholic parishes to keep the registers of births, marriages and deaths. Some oldest registers were preserved up to this day from the second half of the 16th century (the oldest ones concern the towns of Slany, Kutna Hora, Praha, Cheb and other, usually kept by Protestants). In Czech lands the Catholic registers started to be used generally from the first half of the 17th century. Initially they all records were registered in one register. In 1784 the emperor Josef 2nd ordered the records were to be separated into three registers (births, marriages, deaths). Herewith a form was introduced to keep better frame of the records. Catholic priests kept the registers not only for Catholics, even for non-catholics inhabitants.
Then the records did include the date of baptizm (not birth), as well as the date of burial (not death). The date of birth was to be mentioned since 1812, a midwife since 1813.
The quality of all records was a result of the person who did the registration. Not always he was a priest. In virtue of the decree of the empress Maria Theresia from 1750 also a sacristian or church bell-ringer were allowed to register the records. Later also a chaplain or school teacher did it. We can find the records done in Latin, Czech or German.
Since 1771 also house numbers were noted. Evangelical and Helvetical parishes kept the registers after the Edict of Religious Tolerance was published in 1781. Only in 1849 it was abolished that Catholic priests were to keep control above Evangelical and Helvetical registers. As for the Jewish registers, they were confirmed to be public ones in 1868. Nevertheless, before that date we have the Jewish registers even from the end of the 18th century.
Catholic registers of births include usually the following data in the 19th century: a date of birth and baptizm, priest, locality of the birth, house number, name of the child, father and mother´s name (their religion, father´s occupation), child´s grandparents from father and mother´s side (their names, occupations, locality and house number they dwelled), godparents (their names, occupations, locality and house number they dwelled), midwife (name, where she was from), additional notes (concerning issued passports, certificates of domicilies, certificates of baptizm, data of death). The deeper into past the less information we can obtain from records (the same concerns the registers of marriages and deaths).
Catholic registers of marriages contain usually the following data in the 19th century: a date of wedding, priest, locality of the wedding, house numbers, names of the betrothed, bridegroom and bride´s house numbers and occupation, their parents and grandparents (names, occupations, locality and house number they dwelled), witnesses (their names, occupations, locality and house number they dwelled), additional notes (concerning issued passports, certificates of domicilies, certificates of baptizm).
Catholic registers of deaths contain usually the following data in the 19th century: date of death and burial, priest who assisted by the burial, priest who gave last anointment, locality of death, house number, name of the deceased, his / her occupation and religion, status, age, mention about medical documents. Almost the same structure was valid for Evangelical and Jewish registers too. Jewish birth registers provide us also info about circumcision and marriage permissions that was necessary to have from local offices.
The Catholic and Evangelical registers are usually stored at the State regional archives. Nevertheless, the newest registers (from about 1890 - 1910 up to this day) are still stored at city halls. Sometimes it is not easy to have an access to those ones which are stored at city halls since state clerks try to keep security of the privacy of all citizens.
All Jewish registers are stored at the State central archives of Praha, Milada Horáková street.
Go directly to: