Hungary Research Notes

Notes & Caveats

Hungarian family baptisms, marriages, and deaths can be found in the Roman Catholic Church record books from as early as 1624, thanks to, which has digitized the previously microfilmed records.

In 1895, civil registration began in Hungary. Church records were undoubtably kept as well, but with the exception of one collection, “Hungary, Church Books, 1624-1950” most of the online records for events after 1895 are civil records.

It would probably be possible to write to the local church for more recent records, but that is beyond the scope of my research at this time.

I first searched on and didn’t find anything for Matyas Szanto from his life in Hungary, although I did find his passenger record, his marriage and death indexes and the census records. has index records for the Hungarian vital records, but it does not have the images.

The best way (for me) to find what I was looking for, was to first look at the records on Then enter the names, dates, and events I found into the Szanto family tree. After that,’s search engine used the Szanto tree to find “hints” i.e. the same records I had found on

In addition to the principal parties, parents and godparents names are also included in the actual records. These additional names, which is so important to determining that you have found the right person. This information is not on the index records. Notations are made afterwards that add valuable information for researchers. For example, a baptism record may include a notation regarding the person’s marriage that states who the marriage partner was, their parents, the date of the marriage and sometimes the house number. It may also contain a note about the person’s death. I have even seen a marriage entry in the Pétervására church records for a marriage that happened in New Jersey! The records written in Hungarian are however very difficult for me to interpret beyond the basic categories of birth, baptism, marriage, death.

Sources – Hungary

These online collections on are a treasure trove for anyone researching Hungarian vital records.

Hungary Baptisms, 1734-1895. (13,974)
Hungary Civil Registration, 1895-1980. (449,000)
Hungary Reformed Church Christenings, 1624-1895. (54,187)
Hungary, Catholic Church Records, 1636-1895. (1,101,174)
Hungary, Church Books, 1624-1950. (409,209)

Cemeteries and gravestone research..

BillionGraves Index. 305
Find A Grave Index. 5,981

DO NOT RELY ON THE INDEX RECORDS. Not on and not on The indexes are very poorly done. Whoever, or whatever, did the indexing work should be ashamed of themselves. Not only are names misspelled, they are quite often completely wrong. If you think you might have the correct person, dig into the actual record images to get the actual information.


A brief mention on styles. Dates: For the European records I am using the date style of day-month-year. For American records month-day-year. Hungarian language accent marks are used as seen in the records for those time periods.

Language: The language of the earliest records are in Latin, after which the Hungarian language is used. So names might be written in the Latin or Hungarian style. The format of the Hungarian record keeping changes over time too. This can further complicate one’s research.

Start your research with American records

One way to find out the names of the parents and towns in Hungary is to look at Passenger records to see who the person was coming to and who was the next of kin in the old country. Also look for other individuals on the ship from the same town, or going to the same place.

The next place to look are on the actual marriage and death records that took place here in the United States.

New York City vital records are now available online, for free. First, search on a paid service like or a free website like the German Genealogy Group to find out the borough, the year and index number. Then go to the NYC online Vital Records page. Select Certificate type, year, enter index number. The records are in pdf format.

Key Resources Used

Hungarian State Railways

History ––1918

Train schedules –

Port of Fiume

Many of the people leaving Petervasara went to Fiume, a semi-autonomous territory within the Kingdom of Hungary. They would have sailed on the Cunard Line. Fiume is now called by its Croatian name, Rijeka, as it is now part of Croatia.


In 1834 there was a plague and in 1836 cholera claimed many lives. During WWII all but one Jewish person was removed by the German authorities and sent to concentration camps. A great many of them died in the camps or along the way. A few survived to tell their stories, which are available to read online.

While it’s not mentioned in those accounts, it is most likely that the population of Romani were also decimated in this town as they were throughout Hungary and Eastern Europe by the Nazis.