Tracing your ancestors

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In the first half of the 20th century almost half a million people emigrated from Slovenia – over a quarter of the population, which at that time was less than two million.
 
The largest number, almost 250,000, emigrated to the United States of America. Around 40,000 people sought a livelihood and a safer future in Canada, 30,000 went to Argentina and 25,000 went to Australia. Many emigrants lost contact with their relatives in the old country and created families of their own in their new homelands. Are you the descendant of one of these Slovenes and interested in knowing more about their past? Perhaps you would like to find out whether you still have any relatives in Slovenia and would like to get in touch with them?


Where to look?


In Slovenia the first place to look for information about your ancestors is the register of births, deaths and marriages.

Since civil registers were not kept in the area of the (then) People's Republic of Slovenia until 1946, you are most likely to find details of your ancestors in parish registers. These contain details of all baptisms, weddings and deaths. These registers were kept by parishes. For the period up to 1920, the material of the majority of Slovene parishes was collected by the Archdiocesan Archives in Ljubljana.

The National Archives of the Republic of Slovenia keep civil registers for the period 1809–1813, when Slovenia was part of the Illyrian Provinces, which belonged to Napoleon's French Empire. The Archives also hold registers for the area of the former Julian March, a large area of western Slovenia which belonged to Italy between 1924 and 1945. Lastly, the Archives contain the registers created in the territory occupied by the Germans from 1941 to 1945. The vast majority of civil registers created after 1946 are still located in the original registry offices.


Even further back?


If you are trying to trace ancestors who lived in Slovenia before 1850 and you cannot find them in parish registers, land registers are a good source of information.

For more information about ways to trace your ancestors, visit the website of the Slovene Genealogical Society, which is also available in English and German. There you can find out more about your ancestor's surname and in what part of Slovenia people with this surname live.


Tracing relatives


If in addition to the surname you know the place and date of birth of your ancestor, it will probably not be difficult to trace your immediate or more distant relatives. People in Slovenia tend to remain in the same area, and therefore there is a high likelihood that the descendants of your ancestor have not moved far away. If local parishes cannot provide the information you require, the phone book is sometimes a good source of information.
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