Monday, November 3, 2014

Hungarian Genealogy - Austro Hungarian Empire

Thanks to FamilyTree University for the following:

"What do you get when you mix together a mishmash of ethnicities, a powerful political union and an exodus of emigrants, then let it stew for several generations? I'm referring, of course, to the genealogical goulash cooked up by the Austro-Hungarian Empire. By the time Eastern European immigrants were flocking to America between 1880 and 1920, Austria-Hungary had swallowed up the center of the Continent-including areas of present-day Croatia, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine.

As a result, the 1.4 million Americans who claim Magyar ancestry share their Hungarian roots with people whose ancestors came from all over Eastern Europe. They also share a number of genealogical challenges: confusing geography, unfamiliar languages, and surname and place name changes."

Tips for Researching Hungarian Roots

Among the biggest difficulties you'll encounter in conducting Hungarian research is translating complicated names and places. That's because tracing your family in Hungary relies on two key pieces of information-the immigrant's original name and the ancestral town or village. Here an excerpt from Hungarian Genealogy 101 for decoding names.

An immigrant's name is often your first stumbling block when you begin searching for records, especially online. You may think certain surnames are unique-Balog, Horváth, Kovács, Nagy, etc.-but in reality they might be as common in Hungary as Smiths and Johnsons are here, making surname searches of databases and indexes cumbersome or even impractical. You can find a list of the most frequent Hungarian surnames here

To use Hungarian records, you need to know your ancestors' original name in the old country-which might have changed multiple times after their arrival in America. Ask your living relatives for all possible spellings, and be wary if your Aunt Mary insists, "Our name has always been spelled this way" or "Our name was changed at Ellis Island." The Ellis Island story, though common in many families and popular lore, is a myth. So whatever your family tells you about ancestors' names and name changes, ask for documentation whenever possible.

Most immigrants changed their names themselves to be more American: Anglicizing the spelling, choosing an English equivalent or picking a new name entirely. This also applies to first names. Uncle John might've been János in the old country; Great-grandma Elizabeth, Erzébet.

Learning Hungarian naming customs will go a long way in helping you sort out your ancestor's correct, original name, especially when it comes to searching in Hungarian parish registers. For instance, there is usually just one given name and one surname. Hungarians commonly put their family names before their given names, the reverse of most Western cultures.

Hungarian surnames usually derived from common sources such as trades (tailor, miller), human characteristics (white, small), ethnic origins, place names or the like. For example, Szabó, Mihály could translate to Michael (or Mike) Taylor. If your ancestor was nobility, his title would appear before the surname: gróf Gábor Lajos would be Count Louis Gabor.

While common in other parts of Europe, patronymics-the practice of creating last names from the name of one's father, usually the father's given name, or from the paternal side of the family-generally weren't used in Hungary.

One naming practice to keep in mind for your female ancestors: Women often don't appear by their own name, but by adding the suffix -né to her husband's. For example, Great-grandma might show up as Kovács Mátyásné (equivalent to Mrs. Mátyás Kovács) instead of Anna Kovács."

Course Details: Hungarian Genealogy 101
Date: 11/17 - 12/12
Length: 4 weeks
Price: $99.99
Instructor: Lisa A. Alzo
Register NowLearn more in Hungarian Genealogy 101!

PS. I have never taken a course from here so I cannot personally recommend, but I do know the instructor Lisa A. Alzo and she is GREAT!

Cheerio on a still brown day!

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