The Máramaros/Maramures County Jewish Records Indexing Project
January 30, 2010 7:27 AM   Subscribe

The Máramaros/Maramures County Jewish Records Indexing Project
I've just started up a new genealogical indexing project for all surviving Jewish birth, marriage, and death records for towns that used to be located in Máramaros megye (county), Hungary. Thanks to geo-political border changes, that Hungarian county no longer exists and its towns are today split up between Maramureş county in northern Romania and the Zakarpattya (sub-Carpathian) region of southwestern Ukraine. Transylvanian genealogy FTW!

Very few genealogical records from Romania have ever been microfilmed or put online, especially Jewish records. Even the Mormons, genealogists extraordinaire, have filmed practically nothing in Romania; the communist bureaucracy in the country persisted even long after the actual communists were gone, and access to old records was very limited, even for professional genealogists. However, just recently the Romanian laws were changed and now entire record books may be photographed (with a maximum of five books per day per researcher), as long as the original records are more than 100 years old (for privacy protection).

When Máramaros county was split up in 1920, almost all the old vital record books ended up on the new Romanian side of the border, held in a branch of the Romanian National Archives in the city of Baia Mare. I hired a Romanian researcher to go to the archives there and photograph selected towns' Jewish vital records books, page by page. I also obtained index information on the archives' holdings and built the first searchable catalog of what pre-1896 Jewish vital records are even available in the archives in the first place. (Post-1896, the records for towns are kept in big civil registers, with all the people in the town in the same book regardless of their religion, but pre-1896 the register books were separated out by religious group, which is why these books and their records are solely Jewish ones.)

I'm starting up the first effort to open up these old vital records for an entire Romanian county. We're getting volunteers to index these old records, typing up the the text in the old records (as seen in the photos) into spreadsheets, which will eventually be exported as CSV's. The resulting database will go online at, freely available and freely searchable for everyone to use. Instead of being locked away in Romania, the data will be online and free!

If any MeFites would like to join the project as volunteer record transcribers, that would be Most Excellent. :-)
posted by Asparagirl (3 comments total)

What an awesome project! What gave you the idea?
posted by orrnyereg at 4:42 PM on January 31, 2010

Thanks! My husband's Hungarian paternal family comes from the former Máramaros county, from little towns that are now on the Romanian side of the border. I'm the resident genealogy geek in the family, so I tried to find information on his ancestors and was shocked at how very little was out there. It seemed ridiculous to me that I could not find ANY vital records data on any town or even big city in practically the whole country -- especially compared with how open and accessible records are for places like Poland. I was further shocked when I heard that Romania's draconian vital records laws had finally loosened up recently, and yet almost no one I could find online had taken advantage of this fact to start diving into the archive books.

So, if you want something done right, do it yourself, you know? So I am. A few hundred dollars later, I have full images of 65 record books, am looking to acquire photos of the rest of the 116 books, and want to see this information free and open. It's history! It's important! Put that shit online! And make it free! /battlecry of the genealogy nerd

(I would also hope to inspire people who have ancestry from all the other Romanian counties to start putting together record transcription projects for their own ancestral record books too. The researcher I used is awesome and pretty inexpensive, so if anyone would like his name and contact information, please e-mail me.)
posted by Asparagirl at 6:26 PM on January 31, 2010

Asparagirl: "If any MeFites would like to join the project as volunteer record transcribers, that would be Most Excellent. :-) "

Oooh, I'm interested. Don't know how much I'll be able to contribute, but I'm interested.
posted by FlyingMonkey at 7:23 PM on March 31, 2010

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