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Resources for Austrian Genealogy

Posted by Sean Daly on Oct 25, 2023
Austrian flag with alpine villagers and a mountain landscape

October 26 is Austrian National Day! To celebrate, here are some resources for Austrian genealogy, many of which may help you as you research your ancestors. Check our curated list, you may find resources you haven’t used before!

1566 map of Austria
This map from 1566 is very clear about how mountainous Austria is! Source BNF-Gallica.

Austria’s history: the Habsburgs and empires

Austria — Österreich — is a landlocked German-speaking predominantly Catholic country of nine million inhabitants, with a long history. A country of alpine pastures and villages, blue lakes, and baroque cities, it is crossed by the Danube River — the Danubian Limes were the ancient border of the Roman Empire — and traversed by the Alps which have always shaped the inhabitants’ character. Austria was ruled for six centuries by the House of Habsburg, from the 13th century until the end of World War I. Part of the Holy Roman Empire in the Middle Ages — Vienna was twice capital — then of the German Confederation following the defeat of Napoléon, and finally the Austro-Hungarian Empire during the period of mass emigration to the United States, today’s Republic of Austria is composed of nine federal states or Bundesländer, including Vienna. Austrian National Day celebrates the anniversary in 1955 when the Austrian Parliament passed a constitutional law on permanent neutrality, following the end of postwar Allied occupation.

Postcard photo of a mountain climber near Innsbruck
Austrians are at ease in alpine environments! Innsbruck in the North Tyrol was the site of the 1976 Winter Olympics and remains a popular destination for climbers. From Geneanet’s extensive postcard collection.

Identifying your ancestor’s town of origin

In this article, we will focus on records specific to Austria. The multiple border changes in this part of Europe are confusing to the uninitiated; after all, immigrants most often indicated the country they had grown up in. However, “Austria-Hungary” or its predecessors could mean today’s Austria, or Hungary, or the Czech Republic, or Slovakia, or Slovenia, or even Poland — a big step is identifying the correct crown land (Kronländer). Like Germany, the key to locating records in the lands of the former empires is remembering that they are held locally, in the municipality, and more recently sometimes online at the regional or national level of where the municipality is today. Identifying your ancestor’s town of origin is therefore your priority!

Postcard photo of a couple in Schwaz from c.1900
An old family photo could provide valuable clues about the town of origin! From Geneanet’s Postcards collection.
Screenshot of Geneanet's Last Name heatmap showing the name PICHLER prior to 1800
Use Geneanet’s Last Name heatmap feature to find clusters of individuals with your family’s name. The surname Pichler correlates strongly with Austria, with many individuals over the border in Munich, Bavaria. Geneanet Origin of Last Names

Geneanet has rich Austrian collections!

There are nearly 83 million data points of Austrian individuals at Geneanet — find your people now! Note that most of these records require a Premium subscription.

  • Start with our millions of birth/marriage/death (BMD) records, including images.
  • Our collaborative indexes, uploaded by Geneanet volunteers, cover 190,000 individuals and are not available elsewhere. As always, member contributions are free for all.
  • Our Save our Graves collaborative project has photos from over 250 cemeteries in Austria — do keep in mind however that although some cemeteries have hundreds of photos, some have fewer. Do you live in Austria? Consider photographing your local cemetery!
  • Geneanet member family trees, available through our main search page. We have 1.8 million trees, so you may find another genealogist researching your family. As always, look at the tree’s sources before copying information. And send a message to the tree owner if you wish — not everyone responds, but you may be surprised by new information!
  • Our name heatmap feature can be extremely useful, especially for unusual names. A map is built dynamically from our members’ 1.8 million family trees; you may be able to identify a region where your family name originated! Slide the cursor to exclude the 20th and 21st centuries, or even the 19th, to look into the past.
  • Our extensive Postcards collection has over 3000 images of Austria. Is your ancestor’s village in there? If you enter a place of origin for an ancestor, Geneanet will suggest postcards from there!
  • Our Austria search engine limits individual search to Austria.
  • Our article Resources for German Genealogy has some links of use to the Austrian researcher (for example, Matricula, also listed below) as well as tips for deciphering old Kurrent script (parish registers) and blackschrift typefaces (e.g. Fraktur, seen in books and newspapers).
Front page of the Wiener Salonblatt newspaper in 1904, showing Baronness Maria Wenzl Deym von Střítež and her daughter Blanca
The Austrian National Library has a large collection of historical newspapers in its ANNO app. On June 18, 1904, the front page of the Wiener Salonblatt featured the Baronness Maria Wenzl Deym von Střítež (née de Sternbach, 1879-1967) and her daughter Countess Blanca Deym von Střítež (1901-1996). Check out the photographer’s logo: no, that is not the Coco Chanel logo (1925), nor the Château de Crémat symbol! Source: Österreichische Nationalbibliothek

Austrian genealogy resources

Postcard view of the town of Ainet: valley, river, mountains
Ainet is in the Tyrol region, not far from Italy. Geneanet Postcards collection.

Did we miss any resources? Please let us know in the comments! And don’t hesitate to ask for help in our forums. Geneanet members are helpful and questions are monitored by support!


My great great grandmother was from Altstadt, which is now today, Staré Město, When did it get taken over by the Czechs? Is there any way to find information on Altstadt, or was there nothing saved from that time period (1800s)?


My grandmother Ersillia Madeline Fait was baptized on 15 May 1871 in the village of Noriglio, Diocese of Trento, Austrian Empire. She was the daughter of Franco Fait and Maddalena Giori. Can you provide any information on the geographic location of Fait and Giori family names?

Answer from Geneanet: As we suggest, run these names in Geneanet’s last name heatmap (menu Resources -> Origin of Last Names; slide the right cursor to the left to exclude the 19th and 20th centuries). Zoom in the blue areas which show where people of that name lived; you will likely find nearby villages!

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