Where to start with your genealogy

Prepare your request and do your homework;
it will save you money

It may look strange, but our first advice is "find all you can about your ancestors before ordering research". Don't worry about all the variations of the name you have or the lack of exact date of birth. For success, the Place of Birth is the most important piece of information you need.

Most clients have only partial information about where their ancestors came from; only very few have original documents like passport (simple piece of paper in that time), a copy of birth record (krestni list) or US immigration papers.

Often US immigration papers or shipping lists state that the ancestor was from a well-known, large town. That is usually wrong. Immigration officers, US authorities, or shipping agents did not know all villages and did neither have the time nor the interest to listen to spelling efforts in a language they did not understand. To speed up things during immigration, they would, for example, ask: "Nearest big town is Tabor? Good, place of birth Tabor". Sometimes records are as general as "from Bohemia" or "from Austria".

From your side, therefore, you will save yourself a lot of money and us many needless searches if you do some work before hiring us.

  1. First, check ALL your old material and ask around in the family for who has more details. All material can help, for example, an old letter from Czech relatives can help finding a place of birth not mentioned clearly in the official papers.
  2. Check your local history. In particular, obituaries in old local newspapers can contain a lot of information, often better than the actual immigration papers. Old gravestones can contain also a lot of information. Don't worry if its in Czech, just use some water-soluble crayon to make the letters readable and make a few digital pictures of it; we will translate it.
  3. Internet. You can gather a wealth of information by accessing publicly available databases, looking for people with the same surname, checking genealogical societies, etc. Maybe you even find some unknown relative who already did all the research.
  4. If you still cannot find where your ancestors came from, check if there are more people with Czech ancestry in your area. Often people emigrating from the same village ended up close to each other in the USA. It might be completely wrong, but at least it givers us something if all other methods fail.
  5. Beware: Ellis Island became the New York immigration center only AFTER 1892, while most Czechs arrived before that date (through Castle Garden or Barge Office). The information about those earlier periods is not (yet) in Ellis Island or online but mostly still in the archives in Washington.
  6. Most important, even if you are confident you know where they were from, please do not give us only the family and village name, but send us copies or full transcripts of your data about your Czech ancestors directly in the beginning. It will save us time and you money.



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.


Design by the Bear (2008)