The Researcher’s Guide is a unique book for everyone who is interested in the Czech Land Books and the use of the land records in genealogical research and in compiling family history. We know there is very little information about this unique source of information available in English and this book is the first tool which may help many to open this source to the English speaking audience.
In seventeen chapters we provide the information about the land books, their use primarily in genealogical research and most importantly about the context in which they were used. The context is especially crucial for understanding and using the land records correctly, making the book valuable even for those who neither wish nor dare to start their own research but who simply want to learn about the lives and status of their ancestors in the Czech Lands. We explain many questions such as the concepts of the people subjected to the noble owners of land, the nature of the forced labour known as robota, or the character of the farmers’ relationship to his land and the property transfers within the family. You may also learn about many terms and phrases you already know from the church registers (matriky) which may still may be unclear or misinterpreted.
For those who are interested in this type of source, we provide the basics for successful research. You will read about the nature of the land records, where you can look for them, and how to choose the right book for your research. We also explain how you can effectively search land books for a relevant record and we set forth their basic structure so that you may parse them into more easily interpretable blocks. This book contains special sections dealing with the topics of abbreviations and signs used in the records for various measures and currencies, all of which are accompanied with plentiful examples. Finally, the book has particular chapters which show you how the land books can deal with common genealogical problems such as missing or conflicting information from church registers and the use of the “roof names” (jména po chalupě, střešní jména).
The second half of the book contains more than thirty examples of carefully transcribed land records from original sources for you to use to practice your own transcription skills. These include an exact transcription, a translation into modern Czech, and a translation to English. Each record is accompanied by a detailed commentary and notes that explain both the essence of the record and its various minutiae. These examples are the fruits of many years of labor, and we are confident that you will find them to be a useful tool for interpreting your own records.