First record all the information you know about yourself, siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles regarding dates and places of Birth, Marriage and Death. Speak with any living family members such as parents, grandparents etc to get additional information. I would suggest recording the conversation, as this will give you a record of all the information that was discussed so you do not leave anything out. Ask questions about their family as well as any special things they can remember. If they immigrated, try to find out the year as well as the reason for leaving their homeland. I would also suggest getting a genealogy program for your computer so you can record your ancestors and begin your family tree.
Today there are many online sites to help you compile your family history. I have used many myself such as Ancestry.com ( .ca ), The Family History Library ( FHL ) which is affiliated with the Church of Latter Day Saints ( LDS). Sites such as Ancestry have information concerning Census Lists, Military Records, Immigration information. Most of the information while limited to North America and the United Kingdom is a good place to start. The FHL has microfilmed church records in Slovakia and other countries which are now accessible. If you are going to search in Slovakia, one has to remember that borders have changed and prior to the end of World War One, the area which makes up the Slovak Republic was part of the Hungarian Empire. You will first need to determine the Religious affiliation of your ancestors, Roman Catholic, Greek Catholic, Lutheran etc. Then you will need to determine the village they would have gone to in order to attend church. Once you locate the church you would have to review and translate the church records since they will be written in either, Hungarian, Latin or in some cases Ruthenian. Below I have included some examples of actual church records to give you a feel for what to expect.
This is a long, tedious procedure and unless you have the patience and the resources to locate villages and churches and the skills to translate documents this sort of research is best left to a Professional.
Civil Registration came into effect in Slovakia ( Hungary ) in 1895. As of this time the local municipal government offices were responsible for the registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths. Prior to 1895 it was the local churches that collected and recorded the information. From 1604 to 1711 the area which is now Slovakia was invaded and controlled by the Ottoman Empire. During this time many Churches were burned and destroyed and with this destruction, records were also destroyed. Many Churches will have records going back to the 1700's while most will have records going to the early 1800's. I have successfully researched my Ancestral line back to the 1760's
Translations, depending on the amount to be translated can generally take about 7 - 10 days.
Genealogical Research can take anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks, once again depending on the complexity and another 7 - 10 days to compile my report. In the event that micro films need to be ordered, this could add another 3 to 4 weeks as I wait for the films to arrive. Any documents which I include with your report such as Birth, Marriage or Death Records will be translated into English for you.
Research vs DNA Results. With all the talk of Genealogy by DNA testing and actual Genealogy Research many people are wondering which is best for them to pursue. While both forms of research have their own merits, the way a person should approach this will depend on their own circumstances. DNA Testing : While there are several companies that offer this service, the 2 most popular are “Ancestry DNA” and “23andMe”. When Introduced a few years ago, Ancestry concentrated on the clients Ancestral Background, where 23andMe dealt more with Health Concerns and possible Health issues. Today both companies have expanded their reporting to include both heath and ancestral background information. The only first hand experience I have is with Ancestry DNA and this is what I will use for comparison purposes. If you have no idea as to your ethnic background, perhaps as a result of adoption or maybe your family just never discussed the subject, a DNA test is probably the best place to start. Your DNA results will give you a geographic area where your ancestors originated. My own results show my ancestors originated in Eastern Europe and into a large area of Russia. I know from doing my own research that dates back to the mid 1700’s all my ancestors resided in just a few villages in Slovakia. Your DNA results will also be matched with others that have taken the DNA test and then compared to locate potential relatives. Your DNA results will only be compared to others that have sent their DNA in for testing. I had over 500 possible cousins listed, of which 293 are possibly 4th cousins or closer, many individuals have not uploaded trees so there is no way to compare how I am related to them. A few people that I have reached out to have replied but several have not responded to a few emails that I have sent to them. This form of research will only give you a general area that your ancestors originated and possible relatives that you can contact to share information with to build your family tree. To get more comprehensive results, you will have to either do your own Genealogical Research or hire someone to do it for you. Genealogical Research: Research of this nature will examine copies of actual records and documents pertaining to your ancestors. For example, church documents can uncover names, dates of birth/baptism, marriage and death. From this data you can continue to research to uncover other family members. There are immigration records, census records, military records etc. which can be used to develop your family line. In a typical report which has been generated through this type of research, I also provide copies of documents which will be translated into English since many church records would have been originally written in either Latin, Hungarian or Ruthenian from church’s which are located in what is now known as Slovakia. This type of research will generally provide you with more detailed information pertaining the family members, villages and pertinent dates to assist you in your ancestral family tree.