Translating Civil Records – Births (1895-Present)

In most parts of the former Austro-Hungarian empire, vital records were documented by local church parishes until about October,1895. At that time, laws were passed, requiring all citizens to report births, marriages, and deaths to an assigned civil records office. This civil registry office was usually in a neighboring town, often not near the local church. The church and state records both contain much of the same information, but the forms used are visually much different.

The most comprehensive source of central European birth, marriage, and death records is FamilySearch. There are many other region-specific sites to find additional information, but by far, FamilySearch is the largest repository of digitized and/or indexed genealogical data. Although not every village is included, I’ve been able to locate most of  the villages of western Transdanubia.

The Family Search wiki is full of helpful guides, but the sheer amount of information can be overwhelming. I hope to simplify the process of interpreting old documents by focusing on the basic elements of each type of record.

Birth Records, 1895-1906

If your target ancestor was born in a region that would have been part of Hungary between October 1895 and December 1906, his birth record would look something like the one below. I’ve added English translations in blue.

Below is a sample birth record from 1896 for Johanna Krammer, born in Szentelek, Vas, Hungary (Stegersbach, Austria)1, with the details filled in.

Birth Records after 1906

In January 1907, the forms were revised. Instead of only one birth per page, the new documents could accommodate up to six births per 2-page form. Below is a sample page from Csörötnek, Vas, Hungary, 1908.2

Zooming in, we can see the record for Anna Nemeth, born on July 16th. I’ve split it into two images to make it easier to fit on the screen.


After becoming familiar with the headings and basic layout of these forms, most of the important details can be interpreted rather easily.

FamilySearch has a list of words commonly found on Hungarian vital records.

See my translation resources page for links to other useful word lists and tools.

  1. Állami anyakönyvek, 1895-1920, Szentelek (Vas). Anyakönyvi Hivatal. Magyar Országos Levéltár. Salt Lake City, Utah : Filmre vette a Genealogical Society of Utah, 1966. Film: 700584, DGS: 5036405. Image:50
  2. Anyallami anyakönyvek, 1895-1975,Csörötnek (Vas). Anyakönyvi Hivatal. Szekszárdon a Tolna Megyei Levéltárban. Salt Lake City, Utah : Filmre vette a Genealogical Society of Utah, 1999-2006. Film: 2202953, DGS: 4978120. Image: 16

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