Slovakia Genealogy Research Strategies
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There may come a time in the course of research when one is ready to "jump the pond" and write that first letter to the village mayor, possible family, priest or others in Slovakia. Until the recent past, the time-tested strategy was simply to write a letter to the village mayor, requesting that s/he forward your letter to the most appropriate person. With the advent of online phone books, the world has become a bit smaller and easier to connect with.
Here are a couple of tips for those using the Slovak Republic phone book or the English version This site is excellent for Americans because it does not require foreign characters (letters with accent marks.)
I have used this directory for over two years and found the following useful in genealogical research.
2. Names change over time. If you are seeking people with the same surname, you are better off not relying on a search using the surname as it it presently spelled. a) The directory requires that you enter a minimum of the first three letters. I recommend that you start here, with three letters. When I am seeking a surname, this is precisely what I do. For example, if I am seeking TARKULIC, I only enter TAR. This produces all surnames that begin with TAR (TARKULIC, TARKO, etc.) This type of search generally produces a relatively manageable list of names to look through. As you see names that look close, add more letters, like TARKU, for example. b) Sometimes, the vowels change when a name is transliterated. Therefore, try all the vowels: TAR, TER, TIR, TOR, TUR.
I have found the above method extremely useful when you are at all unsure about how the name should be spelled today, even if you are not looking for people in specific locations.
3. People move around. You are better off to enter an Area Code rather than a village name in the search. Keep in mind that in the 60's and 70's many people moved to large towns and cities for employment. In Eastern Slovakia, Košice is the largest employer. In the west, it’s Bratislava, although Trencin, Nitra and similar-sized cities are also large employee magnets.
IF YOU KNOW THE VILLAGE NAME: Start with the area code that encompasses your village, if known. I then take a modern-day map ( Online, Atlas.sk works best because of its detail, but MapQuest will work in a pinch, without as much detail), locate the ancestral village, and identify the area code (s) from Phil's map. Then search each area, one at time and look at village names of people found in the phone book. Start with the villages closes to the ancestral village and work outward. My assumption is that the closer the name is to the ancestral village, the more likely they are related.
IF YOU DON'T KNOW THE VILLAGE NAME: An Area Code search can be especially useful if you are not able to identify an ancestral village. In this case, you are better off going through all the area codes, searching only on the partial surname. There are only about 25 area codes. You can search through all area codes in one fell swoop by putting a single zero “0” into the area code field. (Thanks Vladimir KOVALSKY for this tip.) The web site is speedy enough that you can make quick work of it.
4. Feminine Names. Keep in mind that a female surname always takes a feminine form, ending in OVA' For example, TARKULIC' AND TARKULIC'OVA' are the same family name (surname).
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
To make this work best for research, you need to combine steps (2) and (3). Enter the first three letters of the last name and the Area Code. This produces the most manageable lists that are also the most relevant. For example, I enter last name TAR and area code 057. This shows me all names beginning with TAR in the Humenne district.
It seems like an arduous task, but the number of hits you get is surprisingly low. In most cases, the number of hits typically is in the 5 to 80 names. For a country of 5 million people, only 1/4 of the households have phones. I would make an estimate that there are less than 400,000 phones. The regions of highest immigration, in the east, contain relatively few people.
Slovenska Posta Select "On-Line", then "PSC obci a ulic". Enter village name into "Nazov obce:" field. Click on the Flag of Great Britain for English. Peter Nagy has some great tips and a translation for using the Slovenska Posta web site.
Transit time from the USA to Slovakia is generally two weeks for Air Mail and 4 to 5 weeks for surface mail. Air mail is US$0.90 per ounce (04/2008). Surface mail service has been discontinued (in 2007).
A listing of Slovakia villages, including mayor name, mailing address and phone number is found at Obec.info . (Village reference for Czech Republic are here) The web page is in Slovak, but you need only to enter the village name into the window following "Nájdi obec/mesto:" and press the adjacent "Hl'adaj" button for results.
Thanks to "ferom" from slovensko.com for house number syntax.
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