Austrian Regiments and Where They Recruited
by Karen Hobbs
The process of research with Austrian military records begins by identifying which regiments recruited in an ancestor’s birth district. The Austrian line infantry recruited its soldiers from all parts of the Empire. The Jäger (light infantry) were recruited only in the lands of Bohemia, Moravia, and Austrian Tirol before 1869. Cavalry was the second most likely branch of service for the peasants and urban lower classes who became Austria’s typical soldiers. The Artillery was a branch of service reserved for the well educated. Other branches in which ancestors may have served include the transportation corps, the quartermaster corps and the medical service corps.
Each line infantry regiment had a specific assigned recruiting district. Other combat forces, such as the light infantry, Landwehr (ready reserve), cavalry, and artillery, had recruiting districts that were related in some way to the line infantry districts. For example, cavalry and artillery regiment recruits came from a combination of two or three neighboring recruiting districts. Landwehr and Jäger battalions were attached to specific line infantry regiments and came from the same district as that line infantry regiment. Technical troops and support and medical service recruits came from an entire corps district (a district that included several line infantry regiments) or from an entire Land (province).
Regiments usually took their recruits from among draft age men living in the regiment’s home district. Recruits were almost always born in that same district, although their actual place of residence might change between birth and induction. In rare cases, a journeyman craftsman, migrant or factory worker might be inducted by recruiters while living outside his birth or home district and he would end up in the local district regiment instead of his home regiment.1
Prerequisites to determining the regiment
Before determining the regiment, a family member served in, a researcher has to know the name of the ancestral birth village and know its specific location. It is beyond the scope of this article to discuss this subject in any detail. Many articles and books have been published that can provide assistance with this initial step. Gazetteers are key resources. The best gazetteers for genealogical research are those based on information before World War I (WWI). These include indexes of place names in alphabetical order, usually for a specific province or crown land.2 Some give geographical coordinates (latitude and longitude) for each place
or some other method of finding the ancestral village on a map.3
Genealogical societies, libraries and other institutions can also help with this research. Once the name and general location (country/province) of the ancestral village is determined, a detailed map may identify the exact location of the village.4 Resources and research services are available
through the American Geographical Society at the University of Wisconsin Geography Research Library.5 When requesting this type of help, provide as much information as possible, including spelling variations of the village, the names of nearby towns, and the name of the place where the parish was located. The library will provide detailed old maps of a county or district upon request.
Also obtain a general map of an ancestor’s land showing political districts or major towns and villages at the time the ancestor could have been in the army. This type of map shows how given places relate to each other as more information is gathered regarding an ancestor’s birthplace. Pre-WWI atlases of the Austro-Hungarian dual monarchy, or a period atlas of a particular Land within the dual monarchy, are a good source for the right kind of map.
Without knowing a birthplace or at least a birth district, it is almost impossible to identify an appropriate regiment. There has to be a least a good guess about a district before the War Archives (Kriegsarchiv) in Vienna can do any searching (if they are dealing with soldiers whose records are not in the Grundbuchblätter Diverse index discussed below). It is necessary to make some judgment about a general
area in which an ancestor lived in order determine the regiment in which an ancestor could have served. The minimum information required to discover the regiment in which ancestors served is the Land (province or crown land) and district he lived in when he reached induction age.
Family information and photos
A first logical step in military research is to collect all family information that would identify a regiment: photos, letters, family lore and any other records. Individual photos of Austrian soldiers dating before 1870 are extremely rare. Most photos of men in uniform are dated later than 1880. Photos often identify the branch of service and provide information about the soldier’s rank. The style of the uniform may also identify the time period of service. One can compare photos to images found in books by James Lucas and Darko Pavlovic which are available at many libraries.6 If these books are unavailable in a local library, ask the librarian
to request them through interlibrary loan. There are also photos of Austrian soldiers on the Internet at <www.austro-hungarian-army.co.uk>. The pictures on this Web site concentrate on the uniforms worn after 1868 and during WWI.
When it is not possible to identify a uniform in a photo, send a color copy of the photo to the Kriegsarchiv in Vienna with a letter asking for identification of the uniform and the soldier’s rank and regiment.7 Include whatever is known about the soldier: full name, date of birth (at least approximate), land or province of birth, political district if known, and any details about his service from family lore and documents. Many photos of men in uniform are too generic for the archivists in Vienna to make any identification beyond the branch of service, but it is always worthwhile to ask for their help.
Archivists at the Kriegsarchiv will usually take the information provided and do a general search through an index of individual soldier’s records. When there is no index, they will search records of a particular regiment. Advanced searches for records of citations for bravery or outstanding achievement, discharge, marriage while in service, or death while on active duty can require more time than an archivist has to spend on individual queries. The archives provide information about which box number might contain the data requested, but they will not do a search of the box.
Grundbuchblätter Diverse, 1780-1930
A researcher should search for names in Austrian military records titled Grundbuchblätter Diverse 1780-1930. These records have been microfilmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah (GS) and are available through the Family History Library (FHL). The Grundbuchblätter Diverse is the indexed collection of individual soldiers’ records from various regiments in Bohemia, Moravia, and Austrian Silesia. These microfilms are a very good place to start when ancestors came from one of those three lands. The surnames are sorted alphabetically in two different indexes. There are almost 100 microfilms under this title.
To view a list of the microfilms in this series, conduct a “Title Search” in the Family History Library Catalog (FHLC) on the Web site <www.familysearch.org>. Be sure to search on the exact term, Grundbuchblätter Diverse. The microfilms contain a few records for soldiers who served in Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia after 1868-1870, but most of them concern soldiers who served before 1868. When selecting the films to order, consider all the various spellings of an ancestral surname.
The Grundbuchblätter Diverse microfilms include a very large number of Grundbücher records, but do not represent all records for every regiment. Eliminate records for men from the wrong land during a first search of the films and concentrate on ancestral surnames from the ancestral land. For advanced research, note any regiment in which the ancestral surname occurs.8 A Grundbuch provides a birthplace for each person.9 Few men whose family had a business or a farm in a rural
area or a town would migrate far from home. Finding a surname at a certain location can be a very good indication that an ancestor came from the same area within approximately twenty-five kilometers of any named village. German surnames in particular tend to be clustered in smaller areas throughout the dual monarchy. The microfilms can be helpful for German names in Galicia and Bukovina, since many of those families originally came from Bohemia.
Be sure to print copies of any records with an exact match to name and surname. Also copy all other records with the ancestral surname and Land. Then review the copies to see where the birthplaces of men with that name are clustered. Any one record could be an ancestor or a relative. Unfortunately, there is no similar general index for other parts of the dual monarchy, so there is no easy way to pinpoint a regiment from a list of surnames, for example, from Galicia, Bukovina, or Hungary (Slovakia).
Maps showing recruiting districts and regimental deployment
Austria recruited sixty-three line infantry (Infanterie) regiments from 1848-1860, eighty line infantry regiments from 1860-1883, and 102 line infantry regiments from 1883-1914. Each time a regiment’s number changed, so did the borders of recruiting districts. When selecting maps, ensure to select maps covering the period when an ancestor could have served. Then, locate additional maps illustrating the recruiting districts of the Austrian crown lands before 1883. Maps for the periods 1848-1860 and 1860-1882 will show how recruiting districts were organized and when the majority of men who were emigrants or fathers of emigrants served.
Fig. 1 is a map of Austrian line regiment recruiting districts ca. 1860-1883 (map dated 1873) when there were eighty regiments. The map is taken from the 1873 book by Capt. James Cooke, The Armed Strength of Austria.
There are separate color maps for the 102 infantry and Landwehr recruiting districts of 1883 in Adam Wandruzszka and Peter Urbanitsch’s book Die Habsburger Monarchie 1848-1918, Bd. V, Die Bewaffnete Macht. This book should be available at a nearby public or university library or through interlibrary loan. The Landwehr map is easy to read. The infantry map is called a map of “Military Territorial Districts.” It divides the dual monarchy into colored areas representing army corps districts. Individual regimental recruiting districts and their numbers are visible within each corps district.
There is a map of the 102 Austrian infantry recruiting districts in 1905 on the inside cover of the English-language book by James Lucas, mentioned above as a source for pictures of uniforms.10 This 1905 map is valid for the period 1883-1914. A portion of a similar German language map for the same period is shown in fig. 8.
As of April 2004, a large color map of 1898 recruiting districts is on the Internet at <www.kuk-ehrmacht.de/regiment/>. Once this map has loaded completely, a secondary mouse click provides an option to copy it. Charts of Austrian regiments and their deployment as WWI began (1914) are on the Internet at <www.austro-hungarianarmy.co.uk>.
Many regiments did not fight in one place as an integrated unit during WWI, making research for this time period somewhat difficult. The WWI Web site above is important because the deployment chart shows which battalions from which regiments were detached to serve in mountain brigades on the southern or Italian front while the rest of the regiment served on the Eastern front. They also show where the main body of the regiment and the detached battalions were stationed at the beginning of the war.
Sometimes the only information available to you is that grandfather was in a specific battle, e.g. the Battle of Lutsk. A good military history or campaign maps of the Eastern Front battles during WWI should tell when and where the battle took place and which units were involved. Cross-reference the named units to an “Order of Battle” (usually in an appendix of a military history) to learn exactly which Austrian regiments were involved. Assume grandfather had to be in one of the regiments recruited in his Land, then locate each on a recruiting map.
There are military histories with orders of battle for virtually every major war that involved Austria but published recruiting maps only go back to about 1848. Recruiting maps have basic divisions representing infantry recruiting districts.
WWI records in Vienna
The Kriegsarchiv has index cards for over a million men who served in WWI. They may be able to provide information on an ancestor believed to have served in WWI. They will usually reply to written requests with names of all possibilities with the right birth window and surname and they will name each man’s birthplace and regiment. Because so many families whose sons served during WWI were still living in the same places their ancestors had lived for many generations, there is always a very good chance an earlier ancestor was from the same place and served in the same regiment (or another recruited in the same district).
Reference book by Wrede
One pivotal reference work is the book by Alphons Wrede, Geschichte der k. und k. Wehrmacht: Die Regimenter, Corps, Branchen und Anstalten von 1618 bis Ende des XIX. Jahrhunderts. Volume one covers the infantry, volume two, the cavalry. Both are available on microfilm at the FHL (GS1187917-8). The volume on infantry includes a chart of infantry recruiting districts in the front of the book. Figures 2a and 2b show sections of the chart for various lands in eastern Europe. The complete chart covers all the Austrian Kronländer (crown lands). The chart in fig. 2 gives a rough picture of which regiments were recruited in a given political district. Fig. 2a lists the names of the sixteen political districts in Bohemia. Each district is named for the city that served as the
Fig. 1 - Austrian line regiment recruiting districts ca. 1860-1883. Taken from the 1873 book by James Cooke,
The Armed Strength of Austria.
administrative center. In German, the city name is converted into an adjective by adding “er” at the end. The bottom row of columns names the cities which served as regimental recruiting depots or headquarters. Some political districts recruited more than one regiment. By selecting the year on the left of the chart closest to the time an ancestor could have served and then selecting the regimental recruiting depot corresponding to the ancestor’s political district, one can then find the regiments recruited in that area at that time. The chart is only a rough indication of regimental organization at a specific time. It does not provide all of the times a given regiment’s recruiting district changed. Sometimes it is necessary to research a regiment from an ancestor’s political district as well
as a regiment recruited in a neighboring political district in order to be sure all possibilities are covered. This is especially true when an ancestral birthplace is located near the border of a political or recruiting district.
The chart is only a rough indication of regimental organization at a specific time. It does not provide all of the times a given regiment’s recruiting district changed. Sometimes it is necessary to research a regiment from an ancestor’s political district as well as a regiment recruited in a neighboring political district in order to be sure all possibilities are covered. This is especially true when an ancestral birthplace is located near the border of a political or recruiting district.
Fig. 2 - Portions of Wrede chart showing regiments recruited up to 1883. (A) covers Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia
and (B) covers Galicia and Bukovina. Taken from Geschichte der K. und K. Wehrmacht.
Wrede’s book has a number of pages dedicated to each regiment. Copy all of the pages for all of the regiments that could be relevant to ancestral service.
The page shown in fig. 3 gives the following information. Line one indicates the regiment number (35), line two states “Bohemian Infantry Regiment,” line three states the “recruiting district headquarters” is Pilsen since 1781, and line four gives the regimental Inhaber’s name at the time the book was written. The text is an historical summary of the regiment. Look for the years of interest such as the paragraph beginning with “1860.” This paragraph states one battalion transferred to a new regiment, Nr. 73. The next sentence says that in 1883 a battalion transferred to the new Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 88. These transfer notes indicate additional regiments to search if an ancestor served during a period when transfers occurred.
Fig. 3 - Page from the Pilsen Infantry Regiment 35. Taken from Geschichte der k. und k. Wehrmacht
Wrede includes a list of regimental Inhabern for each regiment in his book (fig. 4). An Inhaber was the virtual owner of the regiment and the regiment carried his name as its only identification in written records up to 1820. Most of the military records on microfilm at the FHL dated before 1820 do not have a regiment number in the title; they have a name of an Inhaber, a location, or perhaps both. Wrede’s Inhaber list provides the names to use as search words when looking for microfilms of regimental records in the FHLC. The names of cities listed as recruiting depots on Wrede’s chart, or on the title page for each regiment listed, provide the locality names to use in a search for records of a given regiment.
The pages following the Inhaber list provide the names of field commanders, the campaigns in which the regiment participated (before 1895) and the medals awarded some of the regiment’s officers. Copy all pages about any regiment that could be the one in which an ancestor served.
When a search of infantry records is unsuccessful, or if family lore indicates an ancestor served in the Kavallerie (cavalry), volume two of Wrede’s work will provide information about all the cavalry regiments that are a possibility for the ancestor’s district. Remember to print all pages of possible regiments.
All Hungarian cavalry were referred to as Hussars. A Slovak or Magyar ancestor who served in the cavalry would most likely have been a Hussar. Other cavalry included Dragoner (dragoons), Kurassiere (cuirass), and Ulhanen (lancers). Most Galician cavalry were Uhlanen. The southeast part of Hungary called Transylvania (Siebenburgen) had a variety of cavalry.
Most cavalry regiments recruited in more than one infantry recruiting district. Table 1 outlines the relationship of some cavalry recruiting districts to infantry districts in 1873.
Fig. 4 - Pilsen Infantry Regiment 35, showing an Inhaber list. Taken from Geschichte der k. und k. Wehrmacht
Notice that a Uhlan regiment recruited in Osijek (Esseg), Slavonia and another recruited in Zagreb (Agram), Croatia, so not all of them were Galician. There is no data available for the districts that recruited Kurassiere regiments. Place names are spelled as the English spelled them in 1873 and may vary from other spellings for the same place names. Recruiting depots were in the district where the recruits lived, so that is the most important location for research purposes, not the headquarters station. Headquarters stations changed often and could be far from the recruiting district. Recruiting stations remained fairly constant over time except when new, regiments were added in a given land. This was true for infantry as well as for cavalry.
The map of recruiting districts from 1883 found in Die Habsburger Monarchie has a chart of cavalry regiments in map insets.
Fig. 5 shows Kurassiere regiments not included in Table 1.
The number of regiments and the recruiting depots named in the inset indicates the cavalry was reorganized between 1873 and 1883. A Schematismus (fig. 5) would help to sort out this information.
Kasperkovitz’s book, Dislokations-Verzeichnis des k.u.k. Heeres and der k.u.k. Marine
Otto Kasperkovitz’s book, Dislokations-Verzeichnis des k.u.k. Heeres and der k.u.k. Marine charts the changes in regimental staff headquarters over time. Do not confuse the location of staff headquarters in this book with the locations of recruiting depots. Recruiting depots did not change. The new regiments added in 1860 and in 1883 kept recruiting depots for old regiments in their old locations. The depots for the new infantry regiments formed in those years were in cities that were not formerly recruiting depots. Adding new infantry recruiting districts had little impact on cavalry districts. Cavalry districts covered essentially the same general area and their headquarter stations also remained nearly the same except to accommodate slight shifts in borders with the addition of
new infantry districts.
The importance of mounted cavalry diminished over time. Austria still recruited cavalry regiments at the beginning of WWI, but soon ordered the riders to serve dismounted in the trench. Cavalrymen still had the traditional cavalry mission to conduct forward patrols, gather intelligence, and act as couriers, usually on bicycles. Tank regiments eventually replaced the old mounted cavalry.
Militär-Schematismus des Österreichischen Kaiserthumes, 1790-1918
The Militär-Schematismus is an annual directory of all Austrian military units. The books are available on microfilm from the FHL. There is an index listing all officers on active duty at the end of each book. When family lore says an ancestor was an officer in the army, one should search the indexes of the Schematismus published during the years representing the ancestor’s seventeenth to twenty-eighth birthdays. If his name appears in the index, the next step would be to write to the Kriegsarchiv in Vienna and request a copy of his Qualifikationslist (personal record). A printed copy of the index page with his name on it and the year the Schematismus index was published should be included with the request, as well as three or four International Reply
Coupons for return postage.
The 1854 Schematismus lists all regiments and their recruiting depots by branch near the front of the book. Later Schematismus, such as the 1880 edition shown in fig. 6, do not include the composite lists of units in each branch but they do include individual pages for each regiment. The regiments of one branch are grouped together in one section of the book. They are listed in numerical order and good research method requires reviewing the title page for each regiment to find the location of its recruiting headquarters (depot). This title page for IR73 says the Regiments-Stab(staff) headquarters was at Theresienstadt. This was not thelocation of the recruiting district. It was only a note about where the staff, and perhaps one other battalion, was stationed at the
time the book was written. 11 The Reserveund Erganzungs-Bezirks-Commando (reserve and recruiting district headquarters) were located in Cheb (Eger). This is the recruiting depot/headquarters and it locates the recruiting district for Infantry Regiment 73 in and around the city of Eger. A title note says regiment 73 was first raised in February 1860 with battalions from regiments 35, 42 and 55. This names other regiments to search for records of an ancestor who served up to six years before 1860.
Fig. 5 - Cavalry map insert, Die Habsburger Monarchie
Fig. 6 - Schematismus for the year 1880 showing the page for Infantry Regiment 73
After selecting a Schematismus for each year that an ancestor would have been ages seventeen to twenty-eight, page through them looking for the name of a place located in an ancestor’s political district following the title line words Ergänzungs-Bezirks Commando. Of all infantry and cavalry regiments listed, print the ones showing ErgänzungsBezirks Commando in a city reasonably close to an
The Schematismus pages for cavalry are a little different. Although it mentions the location of each regimental Ergänzungs-Cadre (recruiting depot), it also mentions the infantry recruiting district(s) in which each regiment is recruited. One should look for the cavalry regiments having the number for the ancestral infantry recruiting district in the title information.
Fig. 7 - Schematismus for 1880 showing the page for Galician Lancers
The first line of fig. 7 gives the regiment number (3). The second line identifies is as a Galician Lancer Regiment. The third line states that the regiment staff was headquartered at Lancut. The fourth line shows the recruiting depot was at Przemysl. The fifth line indicates that the depot recruited in the district of Infantry Regiments 30 and 77 and the sixth line states that the regiment was first established in 1801. The following lines give the regiment’s honorary title and then lists Inhabern since 1847. The name of the commander at the time the book was published (1880) was Ludwig Freiherr de Vaux.
In 1880, Infantry Regiments 30 and 77 had recruiting headquarters at Lemberg and Sambor as shown on the 1873 recruiting map in fig. 1. These two recruiting districts were no longer close neighbors after the size of the army increased to 102 regiments in 1883, as shown on the extract from a 1905 map in fig. 8. Thus, the infantry districts from which 3rd Uhlanen drew may have changed in 1883.
The 1873 map of recruiting districts shown in fig. 1 places Infantry Regiment 25 in Hungary at that time and the 1854 Schematismus shows it as a Hungarian regiment recruited in Neusohl. The text in Wrede’s book may detail when the regiment moved to Hungary. A Schematismus dated later than 1841 but prior to 1853 might also add information about the regiments recruited in the Budweis and Prachine districts.
Fortunately, Wrede’s chart tends to be fairly accurate for the years following 1848, which is when most east European immigrants arrived in America. However, information about transfer of regiment numbers can be important because it means that records for soldiers from one land might be found with the records of soldiers from another land. In the case of Infantry Regiment 25, the records on microfilm include Grundbücher for 1820-1869 and Kirchenbücher (military church records) for 1816-1875. One assumes that these microfilms contain records of Bohemians through at least 1841 and possibly later as well as the records of Hungarians or Slovaks from Neusohl district after the regiment number transferred to Hungary.
There are other cases when a regiment number was transferred. For example, when Austria gave up territory in Italy in 1859 and again in 1866, it also gave up recruiting soldiers in that territory. Austria transferred the Italian regiment numbers to new regiments given new recruiting districts in Galicia and Hungary. This affected the recruiting map even though it did not affect the total number of regiments recruited.
Those affected in 1859 were Regiments 23, 43, 44 and 55. Those affected in 1866 were regiments 13, 16, 26, 38, 45, 79 and 80. Of these regiments, 13, 45, 55, and 80 became new regiments in Galicia. All of the others became new Hungarian regiments.
It is important to know the facts of history in order to understand what might otherwise seem very strange when searching through an microfilm. The records of the aforementioned regiments, before the changes, will be for Italians, not for Galicians or Hungarians and Slovaks.
Fig. 8 - Extract from a 1905 recruiting map of the entire Austro-Hungarian dual monarchy, “Militärterritorial und Ergänzungsbezirkseinteilung.”
The Grundbuch records on microfilm at the FHL may not include any soldiers after the location change. On the other hand, the military Kirchenbücher include records of men in those regiments as late as 1879 or 1880, and provide birth information and are a source for a random surname search.
Index to Galician regiment of 1849-50
One reference that applies to a Galician regiment is “Nominal Index to the Register Books of the Ruthenian (Ukrainian) Battalion of Mountain Riflemen, 1849-50” published in the East European Genealogist.12 This is an index to the Ruthenisches Bergschutzenbataillon Grundbuchblätter, 1849-1850, on microfilms GS1431225-6. The index makes it easy to learn whether there are any Grundbücher for Ruthenian ancestors included in the microfilms mentioned. This battalion of light infantry was recruited in eastern Galicia.
Civil military records
The Hungarians maintained civil muster lists that registered the births of all males and their place of residence. Local administrators maintained the lists and those that still exist were in county archives. They are another possible source of information. The FHL has 154 titles for microfilms of Hungarian civil muster lists under the title “Katonai nyilväntartäsi jegyzek.” Each of the following titles also contain a place name that identifies a district:
“Katonai nyilväntartäsi jegyzek, 1756-1841 Heves Megye. Hadkiegeszito Parancsnoksäg”
“Katonai nyilväntartäsi jegyzek, 1794 Tarna videke. Hadkiegeszito Parancsnoksäg”
“Katonai nyilväntartäsi jegyzek, 1794 Tisza-videke. Hadkiegeszito Parancsnoksäg”
“Katonai nyilväntartäsi jegyzek, 1794-1865 Gyöngyös. Hadkiegeszito Parancsnoksäg”
In the four sample titles above, the title is followed by a year(s) and then a place name. When researching in Hungary and Slovakia, locate any microfilm for an ancestral district (megye) or place located within a birth district and do a surname search of the microfilms to find where ancestral surnames clustered. Identify the regiments recruited in each district where the ancestral surname is found.
These microfilms can be found online at <www.familysearch.com> with a title search of “Katonai nyilväntartäsi jegyzek.”
Individual companies of Bohemian, Moravian, Silesian and Galician regiments maintained the muster rolls of male births in the places where they recruited until 1858. Some of them enlisted the cooperation of local parishes to create the muster rolls. The author recently asked a professional researcher in the Czech Republic to look into military muster lists that might still be in local archives in an ancestral village. He reported that there are some local military records included with parish records but few, if any, of them are in the district archive at Pilsen. He is attempting to learn more about this type of record and where they might still be found. He suggested that there may be copies of the old muster rolls among the regimental archives removed from old regimental museums when they
were closed after WWII. He is attempting to locate those old regimental archives.
In 1858, Vienna reformed Austria’s recruiting system. Individual regiments no longer had responsibility to maintain muster rolls registering male births and places of residence. That duty went to a new Conscriptions Commission in each county. The civil muster rolls the Conscriptions Commissions maintained were called Militär-Stammrollen.
Militär-Stammrollen that still exist are in county archives. Czech county archives are transferring some of their material to district archives, but it has been impossible to learn if the old Militär-Stammrollen are due for transfer. Research in the Pilsen archive during February 2003 indicated there were no Militär-Stammrollen for Stribro county cataloged. There are no microfilms of MilitärStammrollen at the FHL except for the city of Vienna.
The next step is to write to the mayor of Stribro. Ask if there are any old muster lists in the local archive. Researchers looking for birth village information may find it by writing to county offices and requesting information about military muster rolls.
Civil muster lists are valuable resources for random surname searches as well as for research about particular individuals. Each muster list represents recruits for a given recruiting district.
The Austro-Hungarian Empire maintained passport records as a way to be sure that men who had not completed their military obligation did not leave the country. For a long time all passport records were maintained by the Konscriptionsamt for each Land with county administrators actually taking applications for and issuing passports. Whenever a veteran applied for a passport, the information usually included a note about his service in a particular regiment. Sometimes the passport itself will contain the same information.
In the Czech republic, most passport records maintained by county authorities are still in county archives. Hence, a first inquiry about passport records should go to the county administration or to the mayor’s office in the county seat. The mayor’s office should be able to reply about what is available locally and what has been transferred to another archive.
Passport records for emigrants applying in the city of Vienna are on microfilm at the FHL. The title is Paßregister 1792-1918, Wien (Niederösterreich). The main author is Meldeamt. There are numerous microfilms containing records for applicants from all over the empire who were living in Vienna. When family records or family lore indicate an ancestor spent time in Vienna before emigrating, the Vienna passport records may provide valuable information to include the name and number of a regiment in which the ancestor served. To find the microfilms of Vienna passport records, search the FHLC using “Passregister 1792-1918" as a title search.
Military records research follows a series of steps:
•Locate an ancestor’s place of birth or at least gather evidence that points to a political district
•Obtain maps of the ancestral birth district with German place names
•Determine when the ancestor was eligible to serve
•Determine which regiments were recruited in the ancestral village during the relevant time period (use resources like Wrede and the Militär Schematismus)
•If necessary, use the indexes of soldiers’ records for random surname searches to establish where ancestral surnames clustered.
•If records are not found in the index, search the records of individual regiments recruited in the ancestral district.
Writing to the Kriegsarchiv in Vienna for records of soldiers who served in WWI is an alternate option, if there is no Family History Center nearby. The Kriegsarchiv can provide information for soldiers recruited outside the present republic of Austria up to about 1868-1870 and in some cases up to 1880, and then for the years, 1914-1918. When they have no information, they will suggest other archives that may be able to help. Most east European immigrants who arrived in America after they had served in the Austrian army arrived after 1880.
Most of their records would be in the archives of the successor nations to the Austro-Hungarian dual monarchy. Archives in eastern Europe suffered significant losses of archival material during WWII and in the years that followed. More recently, a more enlightened approach to archival management has made a big difference but it will be a very long time before all material is cataloged and made available for research. Cities such as Prague and Bratislava suffered severe flooding during the summer of 2002, and in Prague, the new military archive was inundated. Only 4,000 of 20,000 cartons of old military records were saved outright. Salvage of the remainder included freeze drying, but it will be a very long time before anyone knows if the rescued records suffered irreparable damage and whether
they will have any value for genealogical research. It may be necessary to use native speaking researchers who are able to find out exactly what is still available in Prague and Bratislava for the next several years instead of writing for information.
Polish archivists discourage genealogists and may deny having any of the old Austrian military records if asked about them. They may find any number of old records for a military historian who is doing academic research (a letter written in Polish requesting use of the archives for an academic project at least six weeks in advance of arrival is required), but they do not allow genealogists access to their archival material. On the other hand, some archives in the Ukraine are eager to attract genealogists. It seems that success depends on which archive is involved.
When it is impossible to obtain a record for a soldier who served after 1870-1880, it is still be worthwhile to search the military records on FHL microfilm. Surname searches of military records are sometimes the only means available to establish where an ancestor’s family lived.
1. When old family documents include an Arbeitspass or Arbeitsbuch, it will name all the places where the ancestor who carried the document worked. When there is no record in a “home” regiment, try to find one in the regiment recruited in the last place the ancestor worked at about age 20-21. An Arbeitspass may show that he continued to work without break until he was twenty-five or older. When that is the case, he probably did not serve in the army. When the pass shows a gap of three or more years in his work experience, that is a strong indication that he spent those years in the army.
2. The Gemeindelexikon der im Reichsrate vertretenen Königreiche and Lander: Bearbeitet auf Grund der Ergebnisse der Volkszählung vom 31. Dezember 1900 is an excellent gazetteer series for the Austro-Hungarian Empire based on the 1900 Austrian census. A separate volume was produced for each of the crown lands by the official K.K. statistischen Zentralkommission and many are available on FHL microfilms. For example, vol. 9 for Böhmen is on microfilm GS1187400. Others can be found online in the FHLC at <www.familysearch.org> entering the above film number in a “Film/Fiche Search,” click on the title link, and go to “View Film Notes” to find gazetteers for other crown lands. These gazetteers also include extensive population and land statistics as well as religious jurisdictions for each community in
3. The Genealogical Gazetteer of Galicia by Brian J. Lenius lists all 6,300 communities in Galicia between 1896 and 1914. Each community is referenced to a series of schematic maps in the back of the gazetteer which then make it easy for the researcher to find the community on the equivalent full scale 1:200,000 map sheet in the Generalkarte von Mitteleuropa map series. This gazetteer also provides the political, religious, and other jurisdictions that are required for accessing genealogical records. More information can be found at <www.lenius.ca>.
4. This is done through a mail-order service that is also included in the Society’s New Member Package under the title, “Locating Your Village on a Map.” The Society’s collection houses the excellent Generalkarte von Mitteleuropa map series for the Austro-Hungarian Empire (and beyond) in the Geography Map Library of the University of Winnipeg. Copies of documents may be sent with a mail inquiry to the East European Genealogical Society.
5. The American Geographical Society Collection at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee can be reached at 1-800-558-8993 or an e-mail may be sent to <email@example.com>. The staff will be able to provide information about materials available for a certain land. Do not attach anything to e-mail addressed to the University of Wisconsin unless a librarian gives permission to do so. You can reach the Univ. of Wisconsin Geography Research Library at <www.uwm.edu/Libraries/AGSC>.
6. Books by James Lucas and Darko Pavlovic that are available at many libraries:
•James Lucas, The Fighting Troops of the Austro-Hungarian Army 1868-1917.
•Darko Pavlovic, The Austrian Army 1836-66 (1) Infantry. Osprey Men-at-Arms Series.
•Darko Pavlovic, The Austrian Army 1836-66 (2) Cavalry. Osprey Men-at-Arms Series.
7. The address for the Kriegsarchiv is Nottendorfergasse 2, A-1030 Wien, AUSTRIA. Include one or two International Reply Coupons with any query sent to the Kriegsarchiv. These coupons can be purchased at Canadian and American post offices. A reply may take six weeks or more and will most likely be in German. Those who have Internet service can contact the Kriegsarchiv via e-mail, but do not attempt to attach a photo to an e-mail unless an archivist gives permission to do so. The e-mail address for the Kriegsarchiv in Vienna is <firstname.lastname@example.org>. To study the resources and services available at the Kriegsarchiv in English online, go to <www.oesta.gv.at/ebestand/ekv/efrl_kv.htm>. The site includes helpful hints for making queries and the names of professional researchers who are available to do
8. When dealing with ancestors from Galicia and Bukovina, remember that many Germans living in those lands came from Bohemia and Moravia.
9. An illustration of a Grundbuch record and a description of the information it contained was given in a previous article in the East European Genealogist, vol. 2, no. 2, p.10-11.
10. . Lucas, James. The Fighting Troops of the AustroHungarian Army 1868-1917 and a second small book dedicated to 1914-1918.
11. In 1880, Infantry Regiment 42 was recruited in the Theresienstadt/Terezin district.
12. “Nominal Index to the Register Books of the Ruthenian (Ukrainian) Battalion of Mountain Riflemen, 1849-50” by Myron Momryk in East European Genealogist, vol. 6, no. 1, p.10-23.