Hungarian Vital Records Project


As a result of various measures and rules that were promulgated during the nineteenth century, local religious authorities began in the early to mid 1850’s to maintain registers listing births, deaths and marriages throughout the Jewish communities within Hungary. These records represent a treasure trove of genealogical information about 19th century people and communities. In October, 1895 these registers were officially discontinued in favor of national civil registers, although some Jewish communities continued to maintain their own records.

The Vital Records Project seeks to transcribe and create on-line indexes to these records. The transcriptions will contain reference to the original source, so that a researcher may readily find the original record.

At this point in time, over 250,000 vital records have been transcribed and added to the All-Hungarian Database. Until recently, this effort was an informal process of various H-SIG members volunteering to transcribe records that were of interest to them. Recently this project has become more formalized and we are attempting to seek out transcribers and validators/proofreaders for this project. PLEASE VOLUNTEER TO HELP. Contact the Coordinator, Sam Schleman, at

The primary source of the records being transcribed is LDS microfilms. However, other sources are also being utilized. These films are being digitized to permit transcribers to work at home using these digitized images, which can be displayed on your home computer.

No language skills are required. We provide translation guides where they are necessary. Basic computer skills are needed, but advanced computer skills are not necessary.

A more complete introduction to the vital records will be found associated with the All-Hungarian Database.

Following are instructions for volunteers:

If you have any questions or comments, please send an email to

Many thanks,

Sam Schleman
Vital Records Project Coordinator

Instructions for Volunteers

1.      Complete the JewishGen Volunteer Agreement, which is located at and mail or fax a completed copy to the address indicated on the form, or else scan and send a hand-signed copy as an email attachment to the Project Coordinator. The first assignment is as a “Transcriber” for the “Hungarian Vital Records Project”. The document must be hand-signed.

2.      Contact the Project Coordinator at to indicate any preferences you may have for a transcription assignment. We will attempt to accommodate any preferences you have, if possible. At this time, we will also note your email capability (broadband or dial-up), to determine the volume of images that you can download in a reasonable time. While the description of the individual databases (Birth, Marriage and Deaths) list which towns are included in the AHD, they do not indicate which other towns are currently being transcribed or which have not yet been assigned.

Links to the appropriate templates are below. The templates are in Excel format. Because of problems that exist when using Excel 2000, please save all spreadsheets in the format described as "Microsoft Excel 97-2000 & 5.0/95 Workbook." If you don’t use this format, we may have trouble transferring your data. Spreadsheets other than Excel can be utilized, but you will need to contact Sam Schleman to obtain instructions and the templates for your spreadsheet.

Birth Template

Marriage Template

Death Template

3. You will then be emailed vital record images, which you will transcribe into the templates. The Project Coordinator or Town Coordinator shall indicate the beginning page number for the group of records you receive. Once you have transcribed the batch of records sent to you, you should send a copy of the spreadsheet as an attachment to an email to Make sure that you keep a copy of what you submit in case of a mishap at our end or in the transmission. The spreadsheet(s) sent should indicate your surname and the type of records (birth, death, or marriage) the file name. In addition, the spreadsheets are cumulative and as additional records for a given town are transcribed, they should be added to the same spreadsheet(s). A transcriber would create a maximum of three spreadsheets for a town: one each for births, marriages, and deaths.

4.      Column headings may be in German, Hungarian or both. A guide to assist you in their translation has been created at Vital Record Headings.xls. The original entries are made in script easily understood by anyone, although the handwriting may be somewhat ornate and therefore require interpretation.

5.      The Project Coordinator or Town Coordinator shall have the transcribed records validated/proofed and any corrections necessary shall be brought to the attention of the transcriber.

6.      Additional images will be emailed and the process described above repeated until the transcriber is comfortable with the process. Larger quantities of images may then be emailed once s/he is comfortable and has gained some experience in the transcription process.

7.      Periodically, the transcribed records will be submitted to update the AHD. Since H-SIG does not control the updating of the database, a period of time may pass between submitting a completed set of records and their inclusion in the AHD.

8.      Transcriptions shall be performed using the Transcriber Instructions below, and using the appropriate Templates. The Transcriber Instructions must be followed. Any deviation will prevent records from being added to the All Hungarian Database.

9.      All questions, comments, and/or concerns with respect to this project and its processes are welcomed, but should be brought to the attention of the Project Coordinator by private email to JewishGen technical consultants will be contacted by the Coordinator when necessary to obtain appropriate technical advice. Volunteers should NOT post their project-related questions and comments to the H-SIG or any other public discussion group, nor should they contact JewishGen staff directly.


1.      DO NOT alter the spreadsheet templates in any way. Do not change headings or fonts. Columns can be increased or decreased in width, and rows increased or decreased in height, but no other changes can be made.

JewishGen’s agreement with the Hungarian National Archives requires that each transcriber and validator must delete the images sent to them and return any CD’s after completing their work on the project. The transcribers and validators must not share images with others or use them for any purpose other than transcribing and validating for entry into the All Hungarian Database.

3. Certain large towns may have a Town Coordinator who will act as the Project Coordinator for that town.  The Town Coordinator may establish procedures governing the naming of spreadsheet files and the record numbering scheme which are unique to that town and which supercede the procedures described here. However, in all other respects other than filenames and record numbering, these instructions shall prevail.

4. The first column shall contain the page and the item number of the record on that page. Page number will be the consecutive page number within the Volume within which you are working. Do not use item or row numbers that may be present on the image, as we have found there may be duplicates. The page number should allow a researcher to count that number of pages within the Volume and get to the correct page. For example, the first record on the first page would be 1-01, the second record on page 1 would be 1-02 and the first record on page two would be 2-01. These numbers would be repeated within the subsequent Volumes. Item numbers are always two digits. There will be only one page with a given number within a particular volume. The page numbering procedure does not change when records change from births to marriages, for example. If a set of records is on page 17, it is page 17 regardless of what type of records are on that page.

When you are emailed a group of images, the Project Coordinator or Town Coordinator shall inform you of the page number to use with the first page of the images sent. This is to ensure that the transcribed records are numbered consecutively.

5. Spreadsheets should contain your surname and the type of records in the spreadsheet, for example, SmithBirths.xls or JonesMarriages.xls. There should only be a maximum of three spreadsheets for each town, one each for births, deaths, and marriages. Additional records of a given type should be added onto the previous spreadsheet containing that type (birth, death, etc.) of record.

6.      All SURNAMES must be written in all caps, for example KLEIN. This applies whereever a surname is entered.

7.      Dates must be entered as a text field, not date field, as follows: DD-MMM-YYYY. For example:   22-Sep-1891. Note that the month is leading capital only, and dashes are used to separate day, month and year. Enter whatever you can for a partial, such as just the year.

If when entering a date your spreadsheet tries to convert it to a mathematical expression, you should select the entire column and then on the title bar, select “Format”, then “Cells”, then under the Number tab, make sure “Text” is selected.

8. Where gender is required, enter a single letter “M” or “F” rather than “male” or “female”. “Fi” is male and “no” is female in Hungarian. If the gender is not specified, you should check the column for date of circumcision for an entry for males.

9. If you cannot read the town name, or the word written appears suspect, default to the name of the town from whose registers you are transcribing. However, if the town is entered in an abbreviated form, the transcriber may enter his/her conjecture as to the unabbreviated name by using brackets (see 18.h, below), such as “T. Lok / [Tiszalok]”.

10. The Town Where Registered, the District (jaras) and County (megye) will all be specified by the Project Coordinator or Town Coordinator. These are constants and will not change. It is recommended that these columns be “hidden” to reduce scrolling when doing data entry. Do not change any of these values unless the Project Coordinator or Town Coordinator says to do so.

11.      The “Source” will normally contain the term “LDS” followed by the film number for all records obtained from the Mormons. In addition, if the records for the town are spread among multiple items or volumes, the item/volume number will be indicated, preceded by the appropriate term. For example, the complete entry might be “LDS 642902, Vol 2” or “LDS 642902, Item 3”. In the event the source is not a film from the Mormons, contact the Project Coordinator to determine the correct entry.

Source may change from one volume or the other, but is a constant within a given volume and thus may be "hidden" to reduce scrolling.

12.  The column for “Other Surnames” is a searchable field, meaning that an entry in this field can result in a “hit” when one is searching the AHD. However, the “Other Surnames” field will not display in the AHD. Therefore, unless using this field to indicate a spelling variation, the name entered in this field should also be entered into the “Comments” field. Otherwise, someone searching the AHD will be unable to tell why a record displayed in the AHD. Again, SURNAMES are entered as ALL CAPS.

13. “Other Towns” is also a searchable field that does not display upon searching the AHD. As described above, any towns entered in this field should also be described in the “Comments” field. Examples of the usage of “Other Towns” might be to describe the town that a groom was from, when different from the bride’s town and place of marriage, or the town of birth of someone who has died. For example, “Groom born in Tokaj” or “Bride born in Nyiregyhaza ”.

14.  The Comments field is used to record any additional information the transcriber feels will be useful. As indicated above, this field will be used to describe any entry made to :”Other Surnames” or to “Other Towns”. In addition, it should also be used to indicate the age of the deceased for death records, such as “Age = 63”.

15.  Double quotes (“ ) cannot be used anywhere within the spreadsheet. Due to technical reasons, the use of double quotes, even in the “Comments” field, could prevent the spreadsheet from being posted to the AHD. Ditto marks also should not be used. If the original register uses ditto marks, write in the name to which they apply.

16.  Enter the names in the same order as they appear in the original register to facilitate the validation process.

17.  Extreme care should be used with the auto-complete function of Excel. This function will cause entries whose beginning letters match a previous entry to be automatically completed to match the previous entry. If you are looking at the keyboard and not the screen, you may not be aware of what entry has been made. For example, if you entered the name ROTHMAN and then wanted to enter ROTH, Excel may insert ROTHMAN into the cell, rather than the intended ROTH. Even if you type ROTH, the appendage of MAN will remain.

It is strongly recommended that you turn off the auto-complete function while doing vital records data entry
. To turn it off, in Excel, go to Tools > Options > Edit. The bottom check-box is “Enable AutoComplete for cell values.” You should ensure that this box is not checked.

18.  Information from the original registers should be entered exactly as it appears in the register. The Transcriber should not perform analysis or interpretation regarding the records. They should enter, in so far as possible, exactly what appears in the original record. A complete guide to data entry is contained at Transcription Rules. However, below are some of the key elements.

a.       If an entry is abbreviated, it should be transcribed exactly as abbreviated. We cannot tell if “Abr.” is Abram or Abraham.

b.      Do not change the spelling of names. For example, do not change Salamon to Solomon.

c.       All diacritical marks (the little accent marks used above certain letters for pronunciation purposes) are to be ignored.

d.   Missing data for a field is indicated with a dash or hyphen (‘-). Fields other than Other Surnames, Other Towns, and Comments should not be left blank. To enter a hyphen in a spreadsheet, enter a single quote and then the hyphen or dash. Otherwise, Excel will think you are entering a formula.

e.   If a data item is totally illegible, place a single question mark in the cell. A question mark should also follow all questionable entries (See example below in g.).

f.        Use ellipsis (“…”) to indicate illegible letters when a name is partially illegible. For example, enter “SM…TH” if you can’t determine what letters are between “SM” and “TH”.

g.       If you cannot differentiate between two possibilities, indicate both, separated by spaces and a slash, as in “STERN? / STEIN?”. Both will be picked up by the search engine.

h.       Information which is not in the original record, but which is conjectured by the transcriber or validator should be enclosed in square brackets. For example, say a child’s last name is in the register as “GRINBERG”, but the father’s name is given as “GRINBERGER”. The transcriber could enter the child’s surname as “GRINBERG / [GRINBERGER]”. This means that a database search will match this record for either surname.

i    Fields that repeat, such as Source, must be entered in each row. Ditto marks are not permitted.
19.  Keep in mind that we are creating an index to enable the researcher to find the original record. Supplementary information such as witnesses to a marriage is not necessary for an index. On the other hand, we should try to transcribe enough information to enable the researcher to locate her or his record out of the many. For example, the age at which someone died may be critical to a researcher locating their relative out of numerous others with similar names. Do not enter witnesses, the mohel, or the midwife unless doing so is approved by the Project Coordinator.

20.  Column headings can be in German or Hungarian or both. A guide to these headings is at Vital Record Headings.xls. This guide is in Excel; other formats are available by contacting the Project Coordinator in writing at Additional help in interpreting column headings from Hungarian is available at

21. To facilitate your understanding of what a transcribed record should look like, examples are available to review at VitalRecordsExamples.xls

Hints Regarding Old Script

1.      If having difficulty interpreting a letter, look for other entries in the register in which that letter may be more clear.

2.      Look for other recognizable names to clarify how a letter was written by a particular recorder.

3.      Very common problems in interpreting handwriting are that the lower case "t" is frequently uncrossed and that “Z” is sometimes used instead of “S” (Zali instead of Sali) or in combinations such as "SZ" (WEISZ, GROSZ) and "CZ" (SCHVARCZ).

Copyright 1998-2009 H-SIG All rights reserved
Vivian Kahn, H-SIG Coordinator
Benjamin C. Schoenbrun, Webmaster

Last updated January 5, 2007.