We work mainly through the State Archive in Trebon, a major archive covering most of South Bohemia. Roughly, data from the vicinity of the towns of Pisek - Tabor - Pelrimov and everything south of those down to the Austrian border very likely is in Trebon.
In general, we do not work for clients with ancestors in other areas. The reason is simple. This is our home turf. We live in Trebon, have been working with the Trebon archives for several years, and are involved in international research and education projects about emigration to America from our region. The other major archives are at least a 4 hours round-trip away and unknown to us, making it more costly for you as client and more difficult and less satisfying for us. We do have good contacts with researchers specialized in emigration from those other areas.
Method of operating
We work in bouts of 10 hours. The fee has to be paid in advance, after it is agreed what we will do, but before we start any work. After 10 hours, we report on our findings and recommend if and how to proceed. If you are satisfied and want to continue, we agree on the next bout. This way, the risks on both sides are minimized.
Most people starting with genealogy come with very specific questions about a specific person, some want to go back in time quickly, others only want to have bare statistics about births. In general, we recommend a different way of working and, after reading our reports, most people agree and are quite happy with this. Our aim is to help you figure out who your ancestors were, what their profession and social status was, and where they lived. We normally research generation for generation, trying to find the birth records of all the siblings in one generation. Then come the marriage record of the parents, and often also death records. In case of special interest or problems in tracing a line, we also include the Cadastre Registers (Land Records).
Going back in time quickly, ignoring the birth records of siblings or marriage records of parents is in the end more time-consuming then the seemingly laborious method of finding each sibling in a line before starting with the next generation. The reason is, not every birth record contains the same information about the parents, their age and birthplace, or grandparents. A single birth record just does not give enough information to quickly find a parent. On the other hand, once one sibling is found, finding the other siblings is often quite easy. The information in each separate record put together gives a clearer picture of the family structure that often leads quite naturally to marriage records and into the next generation. It is, therefore, often quicker (hence cheaper) and definitely more satisfying to first find a whole generation and then continue going backwards or forwards into the next generations.
Matrika used to be the Czech name for the parish registers for birth, marriages, and deaths. Today, the name is used for both the actual register and the municipal department where the registers are kept. Older registers from before 1800 are mostly written as one continuous story, without sorting for villages or events. In the 19th century, registers had pre-printed columns for specific data. Often the register had separate sections for different villages in one parish or for birth, for marriage, and for death. Some registers have an Index, others not. The older entries were made in Czech, German, or Latin. This depended on the priest making the entry, the political situation of the moment, and the location of the village.
The Cadastre Registers (Land Records) keep track of ownership of houses and land. They provide a wealth of data about how long a family owned or lived in a house, details of marriage records, transfer of houses from one generation to the next and the associated payments made to siblings, last wills etc. These records give a good indication of the social status of the family.
Some light reading, a Land Record Book from late 1700s
Census records, school and village chronicles, and registers for emigration, can provide additional information. However, these records are not always available, often less accessible, or located in the different villages.
All these records together can draw a good picture of your family's history beyond a mere line of statistical data about births. It provides social and financial status, links with different families, professions, prices, and life styles of that period. Sometimes even reasons why families moved from one house to another become clear. In other words, it gives a glimmer of the real life your ancestors lived in their village.
What you can expect if you continue research
There is a general pattern to what you can expect in reports with deeper research, depending on the time period investigated and the completeness - correctness of the information provided.
- In the first research bout, we have to check if there are no mistakes in the information provided (almost always there are some mistakes) and find the first real link in the registers. The most important thing is to find the village of birth of the ancestor or one of his/her siblings. This is the most crucial step. Finding the first real evidence if the only data you have is "coming from Bohemia" can take most of the first bout. However, if yo have a clear village name and the family is really there, finding this first record can be done quickly.
- Often, the next 1-2 research bouts are used to find information about parents and grandparents and their siblings. The places where to look are known and the time period under investigation is mostly early and mid 1800s. The registers for those periods ar mostly well-organized and relatively easy to read. Those report, therefore, in general have the largest amount of records in one report.
- Further research bouts often go into details like house ownership, marriage records, female lines, or the next line of ancestors back into the past. Both land records and older registers are more difficult to read and finding relevant data or translating can be time consuming. Smaller number of records, but rewarding.
- Going back in the 1700s or even 1600s is mostly extremely time consuming. We might end up spending most of the research bout on finding only a few records. Tracing your ancestors back to the late 1600s definitely has its price.
Again, this is a general pattern based on average requests. Your research might and probably will go completely differently.
We translate all information from the individual records as accurate as possible, including details where to find the record and details about godparents, midwife, witnesses etc. Clear mistakes in entries and variations in spelling are given as they occur. These mistakes can actually be important, since a misspelled or completely different surname can stick and result in full siblings having different surnames. The only exceptions are the grammatical variations; all Czech words and names are given in the infinitive form. Where necessary or interesting, we also will explain spelling variations or errors, professions, details about village life, reasons why surnames changed, etc.
The report is completed with references to all used resources and suggestions for further research.
The Trebon Archive now restricts access to the common study room, and reserved places can be booked only twice per year. We can only book a limited number of places in advance this way. The extra places we need we have to ask and hope if a place is available that day or week. For that reason, dealing with a request can take on average up to 3 months.
It is therefore also necessary that you pay for your research as soon as possible after ordering it; we cannot book places before we have received your payment.
The genealogical research is done by Olga Cerna, Robert Dulfer, and our associates. Although we work for and are closely linked to the non-profits Friends of the Rozmberk Society Inc, USA, and the Czech Rozmberk Society, the genealogical research is done as a professional commercial activity separate from our non-profit activities.
© Olga Cerna and Robert Dulfer 2008.