Austro-Hungarian Web Site

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How can I find my grandfather's baptismal record? His name was George Muller, and I think he was born around 1800 in Hungary or Austria, and his wife's name was Katharina?

A: Unfortunately, you cannot find him with the information you have. It is absolutely essential that you know the name of a place before you can start searching available records. Normally you would find a place name among your family's old documents. Failing that,  place names can often be found in such public documents as death certificates, declarations of intent (to become a US citizen), applications for naturalization, census forms, application for marriage license, etc.

Q: Is it true that I must first find my ancestor's name on a ship's passenger list before I can hope to research in Europe?

A: Finding your ancestor's name on a passenger list does by itself not provide any useful information apart from proving that he/she was in fact on that ship. The potential of finding other information is what makes people want to see the passenger list, and most of the time they are looking to find the name of the place their ancestor came from.  It is therefore not true that you must find your ancestor's name on a passenger list in order to research in Europe, what you must have is the name of a place the ancestor came from. This can usually be found on other documents available in the U. S. by following the paper trail left by the ancestor. The correct passenger list can be hard to find, and when finally found, may not even produce anything useful. In my mind, it should be one of the last research choices - after everything else has failed.

Q:My grandfather was born 1909 in Budapest. Which LDS film should I search for his birth record?

A: You have two major problems: (1) LDS films stop at 30 Sept 1895, until the civil registers from 1 October 1895 forward have been filmed it is necessary to request them from the civil authorities (check with the LDS because new films become available almost daily).  (2) Budapest has something like 23 districts, each with its own parishes and civil registers.  You have to know in which district the birth was registered, and be able to provide precise information of date of birth and name of parents when you request a document.

Q:How much does it cost to obtain my grandfather's birth certificate from Hungary?

A: Some of that depends on the amount and the quality of information you have. If you have the  correct spelling of his name (as it was spelled at the time of his birth), the name of the locality where he was born, and the name or religion of the church where his birth was recorded, the cost will be moderate. Lets look at your options:

  1. You can write to the parish and ask for a certified extract.
    Pro: The priest will copy the information from the original parish register and make up a certified transcript. He is the only one who will be involved which reduces the potential for error. Parishes charge very little - if anything, and are satisfied with a small donation to defray the cost of paper and postage (I usually enclose $5 cash with my request).
    Con: You cannot hope to get away with writing in English. You will have to be able to write in Hungarian. You must know the religion and/or church to write to. You must know the address.
  2. You can write to the civil authorities of the town.
    Pro: They have all the records regardless of religious denomination.
    Con:You cannot hope to get away with writing in English. They have a fee structure which is higher than that of the parish, but still reasonable. They may, however, insist on responding through the Hungarian Consulate near you, in which case there will be a handling charge added, which more than doubles the cost. The information you will receive has been copied by hand several times which increases the potential for error. (I happen to have in my files three "certified" extracts which contain errors!)
  3. You can write to the Hungarian Consulate nearest you and outline your requirements.
    Pro: You may write in English. You do not need to know the exact address of the Hungarian parish or civil authorities. The consulate will forward your request to the appropriate office in Hungary. Your request may be processed somewhat quicker when it reaches Hungary in a diplomatic pouch (although there is no guarantee of this, and it is still best to allow five to six months for a reply). The requested certificate will arrive via the Consulate, and they may ask you to send the fees before they send you the certificate.
    Con: Because the consulate adds a $10-$15 handling charge, you can expect the cost to be in the neighborhood of $20-$25. You will need to know the address of the nearest Hungarian Embassy's consular services.

You can hire a professional researcher to obtain the desired document for you.
Pro: No need to deal with foreign officials. No need to know a foreign language. No need to know any addresses to write to. The most comfortable way to get your documents.
Con: You have to find a professional who can speak the language of the country from whom the document is requested, and who should preferably have an associate in that country who can go and pick up the certificate in person. Your cost will be about double that of going through the consulate.

Q:  Is it permitted on this web site to ask for free expert advice?

A: This site is not intended for consultation. I have attempted in the past to reply to the initial inqiry, but that is no longer possible - so please do not write and ask questions. There are many good sites on the Web where helpful ingformation is available. And don't forget your own local library, it probably has several feet of genealogy related books to answeer your questions.

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