Do you have Bohemian or Moravian ancestry? Take a look at Czech Roots!

+15 votes

The Czech Roots Project is currently undergoing some changes to bring it more in line with other WikiTree projects. And we do have a few issues we will need to discuss in order to do that.

  • Czech Roots has disappeared from the main list of projects and can now only be found through the Slavic Roots Project. Considering that about 1/3 of the population was considered German prior to WWII would somebody with German Bohemian ancestry necessarily look for the project under the name Slavic Roots?
  • For the same reason is Czech Roots factually correct or should it be Bohemian Roots?
  • Czech Roots is probably the only non-English language project that in essence says forget about the record, we want you to use modern Czech conventions for names. Should this policy continue?

These are just a few of the questions needing answers. Join us in the discussion if you have an interest in Bohemia! 

in Requests for Project Volunteers by Helmut Jungschaffer G2G6 Pilot (523k points)

Hi, Helmut!

The Czech Roots project is listed on the main Projects page under the Slavic Roots heading. See:

Most projects fall under a top-level project now, except for some of our larger, original projects like EuroAristo. We continue to work on the hierarchy to make sure things are easy to find. 

Let me know if you need anything!


I don't want to belabor this point to much but Slavic in it's general meaning and also as the Slavic Roots project defines it denotes ethnicity. When 1/3 of the population of a country is of a different ethnicity one has to decide if one wants to go with ethnicity or country. In the first case we have Czech Roots as a subproject of Slavic Roots and should remove the project designation from that 1/3 of profiles that does not represent Czechs and create perhaps a German Bohemian/German Moravian/German Silesian Roots subproject under German Roots. I am just not in favor of such an ethnic focus that inevitably shorts minorities in the multicultural countries we are talking about. I'd rather see a focus on geography however one wants to devise that.
That's understandable, Helmut.

As it stands right now, the Slavic Roots Project can be considered the "sponsor" of the sub-projects that are listed with it. So, let's not move things around just yet because we don't want to have to call it a "dormant" project; it's anything but that.

However, we can definitely think about the focus of the project and perhaps modify the name and scope to better define the people it covers.

Let's get that ironed out, and then we can look to see if it would fit better somewhere else.

What do you think?
What about using Western, Eastern, Northern, Southern, Central Europe instead? Or in parallel? The Czech Republic and Poland would be by most definitions in Central Europe which would be a more neutral designation given the large numbers of Germans from these areas, and they could in parallel be under Slavic Roots taking into account the current assignation.

That's certainly something to think about, Helmut!! We are working on finding a way to organize all of these projects that seem like they should be sub-projects of a larger project. This is really an issue that our Leaders need to talk about and decide upon. I just haven't gotten there with them yet.

Carry on as you do, and we'll be sure to keep you in the loop should any changes affect you. 

Will that work for now?

7 Answers

+7 votes
Wow, talk about some important questions.

My own ancestors were mostly from a border-town in Bohemia. Their surnames seem to imply they have German ancestry at least somewhere, not that I can find it. But they may very well also have the Slavic roots that non-German Czechs do - doesn't mean they shouldn't be labeled as Czech anymore though.

Would it be possible to make yet another subcategory for Bohemian Roots and put that up on the main list? Or is it because Czech Roots is within Slavic Roots that it gets hidden from the main list?

On the note of town names, it's hard to be sure which is best to use. On the one hand, names of places can change. On the other, the towns and cities in the Czech Republic have switched names more than once, or had multiple names they've been known by. Not everyone knows (myself included) which name for a place was used when, and having to go back to look it up constantly is a gigantic pain. Unless there's some easy reference to see what places were called in the Czech Republic during what time-frames, I think it's best left as is.
by G. Borrero G2G6 Mach 9 (95.9k points)
Wherever different populations live together for any length of time they will intermarry or find other means of mixing their gene pools. Most German Bohemians will have some Czech ancestry and most Czechs from the areas formerly inhabited by Germans will have some German ancestry. But 70 years ago the Czech government found grounds enough to expel 1/3 of the citizens of the country, mostly based on language. My contention is that most of these people and their descendants will not self-identify as Slavic, yet they will as Deutschböhmen (German Bohemians, Čeští Němci).

As to the question of names, it is not locations that are a problem needing discussions, it's people's names. Czech orthography had major revisions around 1850 and names of emigrants before that change have maintained their older spelling. There are many Dworschaks around but when you get far enough back to Bohemia with their ancestors Czech Roots maintains you should disregard the spelling (Dworschak) in the records and use the modern form (Dvořák) instead. I think that warrants some discussion.
Ohh, I see. As to names then, I would say we use whatever's on the earliest record found for an individual. If you have a birth record, use that spelling, even if the birth record's surname doesn't match that of their siblings or children or parents due to slight spelling variations.

Remember that you can add any variations that were commonly used in the Other Last Name fields. Our search function includes what is entered in that field, which should help.

And for those who might be reading along, here are the Name and Location field help pages:

+2 votes
I have a lot of Moravians on my mother's side that married into the Romingers one even Adam Spach. They came from Germany over here.
by Anonymous Barnett G2G6 Pilot (463k points)
+2 votes
I suggest use the term "Czech lands Roots" (Bohemia, Moravia, and Czech Silesia)

We are here often mix of  Slavic, German, Keltic.

I prefere use modern form of first names. As Helmut wrote the names in records depend on writer language. But the people use always the same names. I also now there is little bit problem with german speaking people (immigrants to Czech land from 13 century etc.). I have some ancestors in regions on border german/czech language and I don't know which language were speaking and what form of names used?

I also know, that you english writers have problem to write czech diacritics (čárka áéíóúý, háček ěřščřžďťň, kroužek ů). And it makes also diferences in wikitree id's, but search works fine.

At last using postfix -ová for womans names in oldest records? In the records is wife/daughter of some husband/father LNAB not -ová. I don't know, but I use always -ová.
by Jan Novák G2G1 (1.6k points)
edited by Jan Novák
Jan, what is your opinion regarding the orthographic reform in the 19th century? I'm still thinking we should stick with the record and perhaps put the modern spelling in the Other Name Field?

Here are some name examples

  • modern form x old Brethren orthography
  • Václav x Waclaw
  • Pavel x Pawel
  • Novák x Nowak
  • using ou x au, etc. ...

If we use old form we will have problems with search records? The same names are diferent names. What to do with that?

The most important is meaning not the form of writing. The sense of name Novák is still the same. Nowak is only old writing form. It is clear in today's names in Czech republic. But world is not so easy. In USA you have some immigrants from Czech lands, Polland etc. and they write Nowak with w.

It is looks like we need some category for simmilar (same) names. But I am not linguist, it is only my opinion.

Here is some old discussion about that (in czech language with more complicated name examples)

Hi, Jan --

The diacriticals and different spellings should be picked up by the search function.

For example, if I search for "Jan Novak" (without the diacritical), I also get hits for Novák, Nowak and some other variations.

Still, if there are common variations in other languages, it's always good to include them in the Other Last Names field.
I could see the use of the Other Last Name field for the modern variations. In my own family a branch starts with Klabauch, changes to Klabouch, and some emigrants to the US changed the name to Klabough. The respective other forms could end up in the OLN field.

I hope that turns into a viable solution. :-)
+3 votes
Thanks for being attentive to this project.

Following along.
by Kelley Harrell G2G6 Mach 1 (13.6k points)
+2 votes
well my grandpa gene's paternal grandma came from bohemia, not sure if she's czech or germanic though
by Katy Brecht G2G6 Mach 1 (10.5k points)
The town she was from can help, the name not so much. I have families with Czech names listed as German speakers in the 19th century censuses and families with German names listed as Czech speakers.
her dad albert posusta may have been born in malasin, bohemia. I'm not sure about her or her mom
Can't find any Malasin or Malašin, could it be a misreading of a handwritten document? There is a Velešin.
+1 vote
I've been a genealogist for 38 years and have never been is a situation as complicated by being Bohemian.  When I read all these questions, suggestions and answers it becomes more confusing.  I was told years ago that priests spelled names as they thought they should be causing errors in some cases.  I'm assuming I'm Bohemian and not German Bohemian but have no idea based on this discussion.  I don't know what language they spoke (I understand that being European many languages are spoken by the same person) but know when arriving in American they passed down the Bohemian language.  I was told that during a time period it was required to use German spelling even though the people were Bohemian. I have read naming conventions but it's too vague.  I'm sure it's difficult to address every possibility.  If I used G2G, I'd have a lot of postings.  Should I be doing this to resolve and ensure I'm entering data correctly?
by Phillip Jares G2G6 Mach 1 (13.6k points)
Phillip, when in doubt post in G2G.

Most people were illiterate, often well into the 19th century and priests wrote down what they heard. I have an instance were a new family arrived in town and had a baby. The priest, not familiar with them, wrote down the name as Ungmann in the birth/baptismal record. It turned out that their real name was Ungemach and later records have then this name. I still put the LNAB as Ungmann, OLN Ungemach, with an explanation in the bio.
Ok, I understand.  If the first name is in Latin would you change it to Czech?  Paulus = Pavel
For profiles managed by me I'm sticking with the record, Paulus in this case. If I can discern from other records that the person consistently spoke Czech I would then put Pavel in the Preferred Name field. But even that is not entirely free of problems: prior to 1850 the name would have been spelled Pawel, not Pavel, so I would want to have records with that use of the name.
ok, thank you
+1 vote
My grandmother came from Bohemia, being German.  I would never think to look for my ancestors through any "Slavic" project.  I have even been turned away (mentally) from "Czech roots" because I do not have any Czech in me, although I realized that Bohemia is now part of the Czech Republic, so I would take a little look there, just in case.  It was actually part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire when my ancestors lived there.  Would it be better to call it Bohemia?

Interesting question, Kathy, but for the management of all the different Eastern European countries that needed projects, Czech Roots was placed under "Slavic Roots". If they were ethnically German living in Bohemia, you should consider the German Roots project. In fact, I will propose a Bohemia sub-project to the coordinators and leader. I will let you know.

This is a really tricky situation, without any easy answers in my opinion. The subordination of "Czech Roots" under "Slavic Roots" did not help at all. "Czech Roots" made sense as long as we could interpret it as people coming from the area of today's Czech Republic, "Slavic Roots" on the other hand gives it an ethnic flavor that complicates matters. Before the expulsion of what was considered the German population of Czechoslovakia after WWII fully 1/3 of the population in Bohemia and Moravia were considered German. So what is tricky about "Bohemian Roots"? It stops making sense after 1918. Before that the name of the country was Königreich Böhmen/České království, after that Bohemia/Böhmen/Čechy was one of the lands that together with Moravia/Mähren/Morava and Silesia/Schlesien/Slezsko make up today's Czech Republic, in other words it has lost its larger meaning. I'm not arguing one way or another, just trying to point out the complexity of the issue.

Kathy, as to your statement that you "do not have any Czech in [you]", I'd encourage you to keep an open mind and look at your actual ancestors and I'm convinced you'll find quite a few Czechs there. Germans have been living in Bohemia since the 12th/13th century and compared with that length of time the ethnic animosities between the Czechs and Germans are quite recent. There have been many intermarriages during the 16th - 19th century resulting in many families that have close cousins, sometimes even siblings, left on both sides of the ethnic divide.

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