Family History in Budapest – Thursday Thoughts

Do you have family history in Budapest? If so, it is one of the most delightful cities to carry out genealogical research in. If you are an armchair researcher, then it is also one of the most accessible for those who wish to carry out remote research from home.

Family History in Budapest. Map of Budapest circa 1903. Image copyright Discus Media.Archival resources

Budapest has a wide range of archival resources available to family history researchers with Jewish and mixed denomination ancestry. Useful archives include the Hungarian National Archive, the Budapest City Archives, the Jewish community archive. There are also collections of historic address books and telephone directories, alongside other transcribed and copied archival collections hosted online through Family Search, such as the civil birth, marriage and death records instigated in 1895. Coupled with these collections, there is also a useful online burial list for the main Jewish cemeteries and a range of historic maps. Quite quickly it becomes possible to get a very good picture of family history in Budapest particularly during the period from 1895 to 1939, but also from the 1850s onwards.

In-depth records

It may even be possible to see into the nitty gritty of family life in Budapest. Particularly useful for the research of family history in Budapest are the partly digitised city records which contain documentation recording family interactions with the authorities, but also personal legal papers. For example contracts drawn up with lawyers pertaining to transfer of ownership, commercial activities and even nuptial agreements. You might find that your great great uncle was imprisoned for embezzling or tax fraud on tobacco sales. You might find that his brother was accused of under-declaring the weight of the Hungarian cattle he was selling on in Vienna. Or you might find out more about the finances of the family business, which offered loans to prospective buyers who promised to buy goods only from them. It may become evident that great great grandmother brought the money into the family and among her dowry was a fine grandfather clock and a spittoon.

Life and Death in Budapest

The civil birth, marriage and records from 1895 are a vital resource, quite literally, although these civil records can be time consuming to check both online or person if you are needing to work through them to find an ancestor’s entry. They are easiest to use if you have an inkling of the district or kerület in which an ancestor lived or was most likely to have lived. And this is where cross-referencing with historic address books comes in handy. Unfortunately in some cases the civil records are mixed up between districts so you may have to look in more than one district to find the person you are looking for.

These Budapest vital records provide names, addresses, places of birth and dates, as well as occupation details and often names of other close family members. But besides the entries which shed light on your own family history in Budapest, these civil documents also shed light on the life of the city and its other inhabitants. From ethnic diversity and obsolete occupations to the perils of metropolitan life, nature and human accident. Such as the unexplained death of a British jockey, the untimely mushroom poisoning of a newly married couple and the tragic drowning of a family of children in the River Danube.

I look forward to the day when a good range of Budapest newspapers are added to this already strong collection of digitised archival resources, hopefully shedding even further light on the life of ancestors and their surrounding communities.

Hannah Gill, historytrace, 21/07/2016

Historytrace can help you to discover your family ancestry in Budapest and elsewhere in Hungary and the Austrian Empire. Do get in touch using the CONTACT page of this website if our services could help you explore your family history on a deeper level.

You have been reading the historytracings blogpost “Family History in Budapest – Thursday Thoughts”. Copyright text: www.historytrace.co.uk, 2016; copyright image: The 1900 Collection, www.discusmedia.com.

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