-How to Find-
Genealogy Guide
Locating ancestral cities, towns,
places, settlements,
villages, and
place names in the
Kingdom of Hungary

--If your genealogy research has you trying to find or identify a city, community, settlement, town, place, or village name in the former Kingdom of Hungary, Austria-Hungary, or Austro Hungarian Empire including those now located in Austria, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine, and the former Yugoslavia...

--If your family history inlcudes Austrian, Croatian, Donauschwaben, Galician, German, Hungarian, Magyar, Polish, Romanian, Rusyn, Ruthenian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovakian, Slovenian, Ukrainian, or Yugoslavian ancestry, heritage, or roots...

--If you are looking in the areas and/or regions commonly known or referred to as Banat, Batschka, Burgenland, Erdeley, Kartapalja, Ruthenia, Transylvania, Vojvodina, or Zakarpattia...

the following guide will help you understand and hopefully overcome some of the problems and pitfalls with trying to learn the town of origin, as well as offering a list of documents and websites where you can look for the place of birth of your ancestor.


for the


Atlas, and Gazetteer for the
Kingdom of Hungary
(see what the HVF offers...)

View EXAMPLE pages

from the
Hungarian Village Finder...
software program

How the HVF can help with
your genealogy research


regarding the HVF...


Read what others say about the
for the
or add your own comments

Regardless of your being a novice, hobbbyist, or professional genealogist, or whether you are working on a family tree, trying to find relatives overseas, writing your family history, or just curious about your origins, without a doubt, learning the birthplace(s) of your ancestors will prove to be one of the primary keys available to you for unlocking the doors to your past.  Since the majority of records, both in the United States and abroad, have been organized, stored, or archived by place name first, most researchers will tell you that in order for your genealogy project to have any success at all, finding, locating, or identifying a family’s ancestral town, place, place name, settlement, or village of origin will be one of the most important things you will need to do.

Unfortunately, as you may already know, identifying and locating the place or place name is not always quite as simple as it sounds and you may have to develop some detective type strategies for tracking down and uncovering the place of interest.  However, if your ancestors emigrated to the United States, by familiarizing yourself with some of the pitfalls you may encounter and the records available to you, as well as knowing where to look, and using the Hungarian Village Finder, Atlas, and Gazetteer for the Kingdom of Hungary (HVF) as a research aid and dictionary of place names, your chances of success are greatly improved.

Problems and Pitfalls--

--Since the majority of our ancestors emigrated before the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918, most of these birthplaces were recorded in Hungarian (Magyar), however, the official Hungarian name was not necessarily the same as those used by the natives of a particular village.

--After the “Magyarization” (making all things magyar or Hungarian) policy was put into effect, many place names may have been changed altogether.

--If your ancestor was of an ethnicity other than Hungarian, he or she might have entered the birthplace using a variant name such as German, Croatian, Romanian, etc., and depending on what document the birthplace is obtained from, you might even find several different place names recorded.  For example, it is not unusual to find that the birthplace entered on an immigrants ship’s passenger manifest is quite different than the birthplace entered in marriage certificates, naturalization papers, or on social security applications, even though they are all one and the same place
(The HVF addresses the above three  problems by including official, slang, variant, alternate, old, and new place names).

--Rarely, were the officials taking your ancestor’s information of the same ethnic background and with virtually no knowledge of their language or homeland, place names were more likely recorded phonetically more than correctly.
(The HVF includes a pronunciation chart to help you recognize the phonetic sounds and determine the correct spelling of place names).

--Place names were often shortened or abbreviated.  For example N. Zablath might be Nagy, Nemes, or Nemet, while M. domb could be Mező, Magyar, or Maros.  The place is actually (Meződomb).
(Using your computer’s mouse, the HVF allows you to scroll through place names finding those that could be matches, and with the built in FIND tool, allows you to search using identified letter combinations.  In addition, most of these two-word type place names have been entered into the HVF by prefix and suffix.  For example, under the letter “N” you will find Nagyzablath listed and under the letter “Z” you will find the same place listed as Zablath (Nagy-)).

--There are several places with the same name.  For example a common place name like “Ujfalu” brings up more than 75 entries of locations scattered across the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
(The HVF includes major ethnic populations for each village or settlement.  If you know your family's ethnicity, by using this information, you can narrow down which places are more likely than others to be the one you are looking for.  Also included are individual indexes of villages in each district which means that if you find a relative living in another place you can use the index to see if there is an “Ujfalu” nearby).

--Handwritten script—this one can present a real problem as all too often the names of our ancestors as well as the places they came from were written down with little more than a scrawl across the line.  Deciphering or trying to interpret that scrawl can require some real detective work, however, by working back and forth with the Hungarian Village Finder’s indexes and the source, the place name can usually be determined.

(A few hints from the HVF—determine the first letter of the placename!  Beware of letter look-a-likes such as the letters “B, H, K, and R.”  Look at the handwriting throughout the source you are using and compare, compare, compare.  Once you have a first letter, try to determine a group of letters.  Then use the built in “FIND” tool to find place names with that particular combination of letters).

--Places / place names that no longer exist.  Obviously, this can complicate your search especially if you are trying to use modern day maps and/or atlases.
(The HVF includes all former place names that existed before the Kingdom of Hungary was divided by the 1920 Treaty of Trianon.  It also has the current place names and location for each of those place names.  If the place no longer exists, the HVF gives you this information.  If the place has been incorporated into another place, the HVF shows this information, as well.  And just as important, the HVF has maps for every county, with every district, so you can see where the place was located or is  With this information, you can easily use any current map to plot a location currently located).

Getting Started--

--Start by getting the Hungarian Village Finder, Atlas, and Gazetteer for the Kingdom of Hungary (HVF).  Whether you purchase the CD or Download the program to your computer, this tool will be one of the best investments you can make towards your Austro-Hungarian genealogy research.  If you have a MAC computer, or cannot afford the software, or just don't want to spend the money, encourage your local library to add it to their collection.  With more place names, more indexes, more maps, and more vital information for the genealogist or researcher than any other resource available, it truly is a "genealogical gold mine."

--Visit the HVF "Hungarian / Hungary Genealogy Charts and Forms"  website to download free printable Family Group Sheets and Pedigree Charts created to help you learn the identity of ancestral placenmaes.

--Follow the “golden rule of genealogy” by beginning with your self and working backwards.  Make a list of family members including their birthdates and birth places.  Do not assume anything and try to document everything.  This is the information that will lead you to the location of the records which in turn, will hopefully lead you to your ancestral village(s). 

--Make a timeline in 10 year increments and enter the name, birthdate, and birthplace of your parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc..  This will visually show you who and where each person was living during a given time period, which once again, will lead you to the location and availability of certain records created during that time frame.

--Go on the internet and find a simple but good pronunciation guide for Hungarian and one for whatever was the spoken language of your ancestors.  Print these out.  You do not need to study them, but familiarize yourself with a few of the phonetics so that you are consciously aware of differences and similarities in spelling.
Hungarian Pronunciation Guide

--Learn about the LDS (Latter Day Saints or Mormons) Family History LibraryLocated in Salt Lake City, Utah with Family History Centers across the United States and throughout the world, it houses the "largest collection of free family history, family tree, and genealogy records in the world."   And NO you do not have to be a Mormon to use any of their facilities!
Family Search

Frequently asked questions about the Family History Library
Online Family History Catalog
Find a LDS Family History Center near you

--Viist the National Archives or NARA website for Genealogists and Family Historians to learn all about the types and availability of records kept by the United States Government.

--Call or visit your local library.  Find out what kind of genealogy records they have.  Ask if and what kind of microfilms they have and learn to use a microfilm and/or microfiche reader.  Many libraries have some of the U.S. Census records and if they do not hold them, can order them through inter-library loans.  Also, be sure to ask if they have a subscription to or HeritageQuest Online as both of these offer access to complete sets of Federal Census records from 1790-1930.

Where to look for a place name--

--Now, call or visit a few of your relatives and ask if they know where your grandparents or great-grandparents came from.  If they say Budapest, Bratislava, Zagreb or any other big place, understand that most likely they did not come from these large cities, but said so to simplify having to try and explain where their very small village was located.  Everything else, write it down!!!  Ask them to repeat it and to say it slowly.  No matter how you hear it, write it down again and again if necessary.  Ask them how they might spell it and write it down.  If they try to pronounce the place several different ways, write each and everyone of those down.  Weeks, months, or maybe even years from now, you’ll either be very happy you wrote and saved this information, or you’ll be kicking yourself because you did not.  Save the heartache, write it ALL down now.

If you are really lucky, perhaps you will learn the name of your village with a phone call or two and using the HVF, be able to find it, along with a wealth of information about it, in a few moments time.  If, on the otherhand, you are like most of us, you will have to do some searching.

--Perhaps the easiest place to look is within the family homes.  Try looking for Bibles, old letters or correspondence, pictures, passports, military papers, documents of any kind, vital records, etc..  Ask other family members if they might have any of these things and offer to pay for them to copy them and send them to you.

--Immigration Records also known as Ship Manifests or Port of Entry Records can provide:
  • one's nationality, place of birth
  • ship name and date of entry to the United States
  • age, height, eye and hair color
  • profession
  • place of last residence
  • name and address of relatives they are joining in the U.S.
  • amount of money they are carrying, etc.
Port of New York Ellis Island Database contains images of manifests from 1892-1924.  (Note:  between 1892 and 1924 more than twelve million immigrants entered the United States through this port, however approximately 20% of all immigrants came in through other ports such as Baltimore and Boston.  If you have tried all possible ways to locate your ancestor in this database and still cannot find them, you might want to try the other ports.  I suggest Baltimore first as it was the next port of choice for East European emigrants).
Stephen Morse's "Searching the New York (Ellis Island) Database in One Step"
"Link to Your Roots" Hamburg emigration lists U.S. Immigration Collection (requires a paid subscription but allows the user to search and view manifests from their home.  No charge to take a look at the ports and records offered).  Hint--Check with your local library to see if they have a subscription to this site.  They may offer their patrons free access to the database.

Microfilms of immigration records are available through  NARA (National Archives) and the LDS Family History Library and their local Centers.

For more information see Immigration Arrival Records

--Naturalization Records can provide
  • birth date and place of birth
  • immigration year
  • ship name and date of entry to the United States
  • profession or occupation
  • marital status and spouse information
  • names, birthdates, and birth places of children
While the actual Certificate of Naturalization is primarily a ceremonial document offering little genealogical information, the Declaration of Intention and Petition for Naturalization can offer a wealth of information.  You can request these records via the Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts.

See Naturalization Records from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for more information and Online Family History Catalog to see what records they have (check by state name).

Note--Check county libraries as many of these now have local Naturalization records in their collections.

--Alien Regisration Records can provide
  • birth date and place of birth
  • immigration year
  • ship name and date of entry to the United States
  • citizenship / naturalization status
  • marriage status
  • employer information
These records can be obtained via the Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts.

--Social Security Records (applications) can provide
  • birth date and place of birth
  • current address (at time of  application)
  • father's name and mother's name (maiden)
  • present employer and address
  • signature

Social Security (death records) can provide

  • Social Security number
  • date of death
  • county/state of death
  • where original application was made

Social Security search via LDS Family Search
Social Security search via Rootsweb
For genealogy related Questions about Social Security (see Q9)
Information or How To obtain a copy of an original Social Security application through the Freedom of Information Act.

--World War I Draft Cards can provide
  • Name and address
  • date of birth and place of birth
  • place of employment
  • naturalization (citizenship) status
  • marriage and spouse information

During World War I there were three registrations. The first, on June 5, 1917, was for all men between the ages of 21 and 31. The second, on June 5, 1918, registered those who attained age 21 after June 5, 1917. (A supplemental registration was held on August 24, 1918, for those becoming 21 years old after June 5, 1918. This was included in the second registration.) The third registration was held on September 12, 1918, for men age 18 through 45.

Original records are kept at the National Archives branch in Atlanta, Georgia
The LDS Online Family History Catalog have the entire collection on microfilm under the following headings:  UNITED STATES -- MILITARY RECORDS -- WORLD WAR I (requires a subscription) is currently cataloging the collection.  Check to see what states they already have.
Check county libraries as many of these are acquiring local records for their collection.

--Church records

Upon their arrival to their new hometowns, many of our ancestors sought out local ethnic churches.  For the most part, these churches kept very detailed records about their parisoners.  Marriage records usually provide the best information but baptism records of offspring may offer the birthplace of the parents, as well.  Try to locate the church where your ancestors would have gone for services and request the information.  Be sure to ask for original records not just certificates and let them know you are trying to find the town your ancestors came from.  Consider making a small donation for their time.

Note--the LDS (Latter Day Saints or Mormons) Family History Library has acquired many local church records including some Catholic records.  Check the Online Family History Catalog by entering the name of the state, county, and town to see what, if any of these records are available.

--Vital Records

If your ancestors were married in the United States, applications for a marriage license and the actual marriage records provide the most information about both the groom and the bride including maiden name.  These will quite often have the birthplaces as well, although spelling accuracy leaves a lot to be desired.  Try Vital Chek to order records.

Also try county registrars.  This is usually the place where you will find the application for a license.

A note about DEATH records and OBITUARIES--
Obviously, whatever information being provided about the deceased is coming from someone other than the deceased, which automatically makes it subject to error.  Then, considering that most of this information supplied is coming from a family member, who under the circumstances is probably quite distressed, the birthplace is simply put down as the country of origin.   Rarely, will you find a village or town name recorded.

--United States Federal Census Records

Taken every ten years, most likely none of these records will provide you with a place name of origin other than perhaps Hungary, Austria, Germany, etc..  They can, however, be used to place your ancestors in certain places at certain times which can then lead you to other records which may have the information you are looking for.  Pay close attention to the birthplaces listed for the children as families may have moved from place to place during the 10 years in between censuses.  Look back and ahead a few pages and note other people of the same ethnic background who lived close by.  If all else fails in trying to locate ancestral villages, descendants of these neighbors may be able to help you.  And you never know, you may find a relative living the next street over that you never knew you had!

Most county libraries now have the census records for their particular county and many have them for the entire state.  Call and ask what is available.

Subscription sites like or HeritageQuest Online have the census collections.  You can use these sites to view and print copies of the actual documents from your home computer.
LDS (Latter Day Saints or Mormons) Family History Library also has the full collection of census records available on microfilm.

A few things to remember and/or keep in mind--
Most of our ancestors were uneducated and illiterate.  They could not read, write, or spell, nor could they speak English.  Spoken with heavy foreign accents, whatever place names were given and entered into records and documents, were most likely done phonetically.  The
Hungarian Village Finder, Atlas, and Gazetteer for the Kingdom of Hungary (HVF) can help you to decipher those places by allowing you to browse through several indexes.

Upon arrival in the United States, most immigrants went to live with or nearby family or friends.  If you have exhausted all the sources listed above, you may want to try locating other families from the same area that your family lived.  Quite often, their ancestors were from the same birth village as your's were.  This is where the U.S. Federal Census and the State Census records can be very useful.

Finally, whatever you do, do not give up.  You know your ancestors had to come from somewhere, it's just a matter of finding the name of that place.


Is a comprehensive dictionary, encyclopedia, atlas, gazetteer, and directory with indexes of placenames for villages, settlements, towns, communities, and cities in the former Kingdom of Hungary (pre 1918), including those now located in Austria, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine, and Serbia / Yugoslavia.

Functions as a village finder, place locator, and town seeker when conducting a place name search.

Uses official, native, conventional, variant, and current names to make finding a place of interest a more likely probability.

Allows for partial name or word searching when available records are difficult to read and only a few letters are legible.

Has reference maps for individual countries, megyes / varmegyes (counties), AND for every járás (district) located within each county.  These so-called district maps show the location of the villages that were once part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire!

Also includes indexed county / megye directories listing local churches and nearby parishes (to help locate ancestor birth, marriage, and death records), information on population and ethnicity of major inhabitants, current country locations with names, as well as other relative information, research aids, hints, and “Links” to online/Internet websites.

A genealogical “gold mine” for anyone researching their
Austro-Hungarian heritage.

Place your ORDER here!!

No other resource gives you so much in one place.


Hungarian Village Finder,
Atlas, and Gazetteer
for the Kingdom of Hungary (website)
Hungarian Village Finder,
Atlas, and Gazetteer
for the Kingdom of Hungary (software)

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All rights reserved.