How the Croatian alphabet
Lesson 3: Contacting the church
[For information on finding the church, see here.]
[For a method of writing to the church, see here.]
What the church can and cannot provide
The local churches have the original Matic"ne Knjige and the Stanja Dus"a (if they have not been destroyed or lost). But keep in mind that most churches in the larger cities did not keep Stanja Dus"a. Also, it's important to understand that the original records (that are found on the LDS microfilm) are not in the local churches. They are in the various local State Archives located throughout Croatia (23 in all). See here for more information on church records.
Any information you receive from a church will come from the original Matic"ne Knjige and the Stanja Dus"a. If there are discrepancies in these various records (and there sometimes are), use the following heirarchy of accuracy, which starts with the most accurate:
1. the original Matic"ne Knjige, found in the local church (the journals)
2. the Matic"ne Knjige found in the State Archives (and on LDS microfilm)
3. the Stanja Dus"a, found in the local church
This heirarchy is not foolproof but is used because it represents the order that the records were created in (i.e. the earlier record is assumed to be the more accurate).
For the most part, priests in Croatia don't read or write English, they don't have photocopy machines (though there is one in the nearest large town), they don't have e-mail, and they don't like long, involved projects like drawing up your family tree or transcribing pages of Stanja Dus"a. There are exceptions but this is the norm. They are used to answering simple questions like "will you please send me the birthday of my grandfather?" or "what was my grandmother's mother's name?" Priests are not genealogists by training nor, in most cases, by inclination. In fact, the American fascination with genealogy is not understood at all in Croatia because few people there have left their roots. When you wake up in the same village that your 10-g-grandparents lived in, what's to understand about family history?
However, this will not disuade most family historians. What they are looking for is every piece of information that the priest has on their family whether he is willing to provide it or not. And therein lies the reason behind the famous "ignored letter" -- the carefully written letter (in English, of course) that the priest never answers and the sender never quits complaining about.
So what to do? A few things can be suggested:
Writing to the church