Serbian Latin and Cyrillic

Serbia is a country that is on the crossroads between East and West Europe when it comes to geography. Throughout history there have been influences that eventually led to the implementation of both the Latin and Cyrillic scripts. There is no difference between the meaning and pronaunciation of the both. In Serbia and Montenegro both scripts are being used throughout the country. When we talk about the Cyrillic alphabet we talk about the alphabet that St. Cyril and St. Methodius developed in the 9th century A.D. with the spread of Christianity throughout Europe. Downbelow you can find an overview with both scripts that you can use for research purposes. 

Latin Script

Cyrillic Script

A a

А а

B b

Б б

C c

Ц ц

Č č

Ч ч

Ć ć

Ћ ћ

D d

Д д

Dž dž

Џ џ

Đ đ

Ђ ђ

E e

Е е

F f

Ф ф

G g

Г г

H h

Х х

I i

И и

J j

Ј ј

K k

К к

L l

Л л

Lj lj

Љ љ

M m

М м

N n

Н н

Nj nj

Њ њ

O o

О о

P p

П п

R r

Р р

S s

С с

Š š

Ш ш

T t

Т т

U u

У у

V v

В в

Z z

З з

Ž ž

Ж ж

 

Saxons in the medieval court

ZakonikDonauschwaben, or German settlers are often associated with the Banat region and the Austro-Hungarian Empiore. However, German settlers and craftsmen have been active in Serbia much earlier and much deeper inside of Medieval Serbia. They had settlements in Kosovo and the Kopaonik (e.g. Rogozna) mountains and share a rich history with the local population throughout the centuries. Instead of calling them Donauschwaben they are referred to in Serbian as "Sasi"  or "Sasoni" which literly translates into Saxons.

Raška (Serbia) has a long history of diversity and relations with foreign kingdoms. Even in medieval times the Serbian kings hired craftsmen from all over Europe. The most wanted were Saxons, which had a substantial presence in medieval Serbia as early as 1230 AD. They were of such importance that Serbia's emperor, Stephen Uroš IV Dušan the Mighty, mentioned them in the famous Codex of Dušan.

It mentions them by name in article 123 as following:

 

 123. О Сасима:   
 О трговима; што су куда посекли Саси горе до овога сабора, у земљу нека имају; ако су кому властелину без права узели земљу, да се суде са њима властела по закону Светога краља, а отсада унапред Сасин да не сече, а што посече, оно да не обрађује и људе не смешта, само да стоји пуста, да расте гора; нико да не забрани Сасину гору, колико треба тргу, толико да сече.  
 
Saxons as well as other minorities were recognized and received special priviliges and protection by the emperor. There are still remnants of Catholic Churches from that time period. After Ottoman incursions in the region, large parts of the Saxon community moved into the Banat are to serve in the Austro-Hungarian Empire's army. Others however, remained.
 
More information about the codex can be found at: http://www.dusanov-zakonik.com/

Donauschwaben

Medieval Serbian coinDonauschwaben, Dunai svábok of Dunamenti németek (Hungarian), Дунавске Швабе, Dunavske Švabe (Serbian), is a collection name of Germans that moved in the South East Europe region. They had a presence ever since the 13th century in the Rascian region and were invited by the Nemanja's in Kopaonik region for mining activities and other crafts. They were also referred to as Saxons in several sources and in Kopaonik were referred to as Sasi (Serbian for Saxons). And later on served in the Austro-Hungarian military in campaigns against the Ottomans. This section deals with their dealings in the Banat and Rascian lands, and provides in depth information about their activities.

Genealogical signs

When we do research it is sometimes not possible for various reasons to put “birth" every time we mention the date. Also when we use more then one language it is helpful to use signs that we all know. This saves time and prevents misunderstandings.

We use the following signs:

Birth: °
Baptism: ≈
Marriage: x
Death: +

So your data should be displayed like this when you create your own document:

Stefan Djukanović

° Milanovac 22-05-1843
≈ Milanovac 28-05-1843
+ Belgrade 12-03-1899
x Belgrade 12-12-1862
And you continue like this with the spouse.

Using Ellis Island for research in Serbia

Ellis Island is useful for diaspora, descendants of those who have immigrated to the United States. Ellis Island is a harbour in New York close to the Statue of Liberty. From 1892 until 1954 this Island was used as a terminal for those who wanted to settle in the United States. When new immigrants arrived they were subjected to a medical examination. Only those who were qualified were allowed to enter, others were send back. On the website of Ellis Island more information can be found about the Island that played such a crucial role in the history of many families.

Of all those families that entered records were kept. These records have been scanned in an can be accessed through the internet. Many errors have been made in the days when people entered the US as immigrants. Names were often not spelled correctly. So under no circumstance copy and paste the information you find on the passenger lists. Also note that the historical context was much different then today. The troubled relationship between Croats and Serbs wasn't actual as today. Croatia was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and as such many Serbs were listed as being from e.g. Croatia. It is important to keep in mind the distinction between nationality (statehood wise) and ethnic background.

In order for you to do research in Serbia about your ancestry you must first have depleted the researches in the US. Double check the data that you have with personal items, family pictures, documents and other items in your family's possession. Only after determining the correct spelling and date of birth of your ancestor we advice you to start writing the archives.

http://www.ellisisland.com/ Main Website

http://www.ellisisland.org/  Island Records (free registration)

Access to the Archive Materials: Belgrade

The users of the archive materials can be classify into two groups, according to purpose:

  1. those who investigate archive materials, that is a certain person, event, institution or area because of scientific presentation;
  2. those who contact the Archives of Serbia in order to issue a certificate concerning administrative, juridical and practical purposes (regulation of length of service, education received in abolished institutions or status of nationalized properties).

Researches investigate records in the Reading rooms. Every user has to complete an Admission form indicating a theme he is going to write on; in return, he has to supply the Library with a free copy of his publication if based on the documents belonging to the Archive of Serbia; every scholar is obliged to observe the Regulations concerning conditions and modes of use of the archive and library materials.

Foreign citizens are allowed to use archive materials after getting a special permission from the Ministry of Culture. Such a permission is given at the proposal of the Archives of Serbia.

The archive materials of Old period can be used in the premises at 2, Karnegijeva st., telephone 33 70 781, and the materials of the New period in the premises in Zeleznik, 5, Bulevar mladih st., telephone 577 000. Both are open every day (except Sundays and state holidays).

The reading room in Karnegijeva 2 is open from 8 a.m. to 7.30 p.m. every working day, and on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. User who wants to get documents the same day must order them by filling in a request form before 12 a.m.

The reading room in Zeleznik is open on working days from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., but is closed on Saturdays.

Users who need the above mentioned certificates must submit a request to the Archives of Serbia, namely to the Office (number 35) and they are responded within thirty days. The Office is open every working day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

All pieces of information concerning archive and library materials, as well as services mentioned above, can be received in the Information Centre (Archives' telephone number, ext. 16).

Internet and genealogical data

When you use a search engine or any other type of webpage to locate genealogical data you need to be aware of several issue’s.

Copyright

 It is a big misconception with people to assume that data found on the internet is free of copyright. Copyright stay’s in place even if the medium to publish the data is internet, even when it is not explicity listed as copyrighted. The same is with text and images, even if these images were taken from “older” books. For many researchers this means that you cannot simply copy and paste the data without permission of its author. It is however allowed to use snippets from the data for your own research, but even then you should make a reference. It is a good habit to teach yourself, regardless of the fact if you need to or not it is always prudent to list your sources!

Sources

When copying data from others it is always vital to mention the sources. This makes your research credible because it allows others to verify your gathered data, but it also gives credits to other authors. When stating the sources keep the following in mind:

  1. The name and (email)address of the author (please do not simply posts email addresses on the internet because the emails will be harvested and used for sending SPAM )
  2. The title of the page; this can be clearly seen in the left top of your internet explorer.
  3. The URL or web address of the website,
  4. The date when you visited it for gathering information.

Doing genealogy is also about sharing, by stating your sources and references you give credit where credit is due. This makes doing genealogy fun as most people do it in their spare time.

Be objective. Every family has its high period and low periods, ancestors that make you proud but also ancestors that don’t make you proud. It is very important with sources to use them correct. Do place them in the correct stratification.

Your family could be wealthy in 17th century, but poor in the 19th century or vice versa. Do then also try to explain the source of wealth or poverty. When doing this use the spirit of that age as a background.

Personal memoirs of family members can be useful for “tasting” the sphere of those times. Using the guidelines above will guarantee you enjoy doing research and learning from your ancestors.

Researched data

Every genealogist will have to do with his own interpretations doing his research when it comes to reading sources. Not everybody is careful enough in collected and copying data and then combining this with previously gathered information. Most genealogical programms allow you to include notes, use this wisely so its possible for yourself to trace back your steps.

Example Case

You are looking for a Jovan Zivkovic who is supposed to be born around 1700 in Belgrade, his parents are not known. In the baptismal book of his city there is only 1 person mentioned with the same name between the dates of 1690 and 1710. One researcher will assume this is the Jovan Zivkovic he is looking for, and will copy the name of his parents and use them in his own research as parents of Jovan Zivkovic. Another researcher will say that there isn’t enough evidence and mentions the data as a hypothesis. It is very well possible that Jovan Zivkovic allthough born in Belgrade was baptised in a surrounding village ( a common practise because not all towns had a church).

When collecting data from the internet you do not have the luxury to verify data as above. Information that is stated as “truth” and correct data can be incorrect. It is also common that although a researcher mentions the data as a hypothesis others may copy it and use it as facts.

The list below gives an overview of reliable sources that you can use and mention in your research. The further the list goes, the less reliable the sources become:

 

  1. (copy/scan) original sources of the archives,
  2. published sources by the archives,
  3. private sources made public,
  4. publications with sources,
  5. publications without sources

The main reason why archival sources are more reliable then private sources is because the archives protect the quality by law. Data submitted into databases is often randomly tested to see if errors have occurred. Publications are less reliable because they involve interpretations of sources. People can make errors interpreting data.

Conclusion: The more closely you get to the original source the more accurate your research will be, and the chance will be that all data will be portrayed on a correct way.

Codenumbers in/and Gedcom files

Coding

To keep the storage of data easy to the eye it is of very great importance that you use the proper coding system to display your data. Although throughout the years many different coding systems were used we still advice you to stick to the most common one in order to prevent errors. Coding also helps you because it's universal so it allows you to exchange data easier without translation.

The familytree

At first glance the coding system may look very complicated. It is however very logical. Basically the numbers become larger the longer the family tree becomes. All generations are being numbered with the Roman system. The oldest generation is being numbered as I. The second as II the seventh as VII etc. If at some time you find another older ancestor then the initial one, then the coding needs to be adjusted.

The following example will show you how it works:

I- The oldest known generation

1. (Current, this may change after more research) Forefather

II- Second generation

1.1 First child of #1

1.2 Second child of #1

1.3 Third child of #1

III Third generation

1.1.1 First child of 1.1

1.1.2 Second child of 1.1

1.2.1 First child of 1.2

1.2.2 Second child of 1.2

1.2.3 Third child of 1.2

IV- Fourth generation

1.1.1.1. First child of 1.1.1

1.1.1.2 Second child of 1.1.1

1.1.2.1. First child of 1.1.2

1.2.2.1. First child of 1.2.2

1.2.3.1. First child of 1.2.3

V- Fifth generation

1.2.3.1.1. First child of 1.2.3.1

VI- Sixth generation

1.2.3.1.1.3 Third child of 1.2.3.1.1

VII- Seventh generation

1.2.3.1.1.3.2. Second child of 1.2.3.1.1.3

Of this child it is clear that he is a descendant of the second child of the oldest known forefather.

Although the current system is complicated when it comes to discovering a new forefather older then the current one, it is also possible to reverse the system. This means that the number 1 would be you. If you choose to use the system in this way clearly state it prior to the list to prevent confusion. The choice is completely your own, we do not advice people to prefer one system above the other one. We do however advice people to use a coding system. This can be numeric but also alphabetical.

GEDCOM

It is virtually impossible to do genealogical research and to not to have heard of Gedcom. So what is Gedcom?

Basically there are many pieces of software that you can use for storing your genealogical data. They all use the same principle of "databases". But you cannot use the database stored from one software with another. It needs conversion in order to be used with other software.

To solve this problem people have developed a universal conversion. Every respecting programmer will comply with the rules and structure of Gedcom. This doesn't mean that all the different software on the market for genealogy suddenly work with the same database system. What it does mean is that the better software allow you to export your database created in that piece of software to a Gedcom format so that someone else using another program will be enabled to view your research without purchasing the same software you have.

You can recognise Gedcom files by their extensions–> filename.ged

Disadvantages

Although the usage of a universal database structure is wonderful, and Gedcom provides this usage you should be aware of the following. Gedcom is an improvement but its far from perfect. The reason for this is that not all programmes on the market properly import/export Gedcom files. This is mainly contributed to the different versions of existing software, so always make backups and think twice before exporting data.

Also take into account that Gedcom doesn't store nor export graphical images. So you will need to re-add your images after the conversion. There can be other anomalies with the transfer of genealogical data to and from Gedcom files.

Did we mention to make backups always! This really means to make backups!

FAQ on Heraldry

1. Does my family have a coat of arms?

No, most families in Serbia and the region were not armigerous due to the fact that the Ottoman Empire ruled the area. However certain families did get arms granted in service of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In general most families don’t have a coat of arms because it was a privilege held in medieval times by noble families.

2. How do I make sure my family does or doesn’t have a coat of arms?

The only way to make sure is to do genealogical research. Genealogy is a science based on facts so by doing research you will be able to discover if your family did or didn’t have a coat of arms. So before you start looking to get a coat of arms designed by someone make sure to do your genealogical research.

3. My name is Brankovic, am I related to the medieval house of Brankovic?
No, of the medieval nobility there are no direct heirs. Your name is derived from your ancestor who adopted a surname. In this case it would be Branko.

4. I did my genealogy and found out that I am related to someone who had a coat of arms, can I adopt and use these arms?
No you cannot. You can contact us for more information.

5. What is the use of a coat of arms today?
Today there is no use of it. Heraldry is a system that originated from medieval times and used on a practical way on the battlefield for families to distinguish themselves. It gives no extra status to your family because we don’t live in a feudal society. There are a lot of noble European families that never had arms.

6. Does my clan/brotherhood have a coat of arms?
Traditionally in Serbia clans and brotherhoods do not have coat of arms.

7. I want someone to design a coat of arms for me, who should I contact?
The Serbian Heraldic Society the White Eagle is the only party that has the appropriate know how and skill to design arms for you. Besides that the organization has already designed most of the civic and new family arms in Serbia.

8. Does Serbian Heraldry use marks of cadency?
No, Serbian heraldry like other European mainland heraldry doesn’t use marks of cadency.
This is mainly a English system and is foreign to Serbian heraldry.

9. What is a good source to review traditional arms?
Siebmachers is one of the most respected sources one should consult. The edition is online on our site but not available yet to the public. Requests can be made however but costs are attached.

10. What is the meaning of this coat of arms in question?
Most likely the meaning is obscure without the original grant. There are people that claim they can interpret a coat of arms by its design but this is speculative.

11. I read that colours on the arms have meanings, is this true?
No, this is a fairytale. As mentioned in the previous point the designer of an arms might appoint a special meaning to a colour but there is no such thing as a general way to interpret the colour to e.g. a quality.

12. So do I need a coat of arms?
No, your genealogy is more important then a coat of arms. If you have traditionally inherited a coat of arms it is a beautiful thing but there is no need for you to design a new coat of arms. As stated before 99% of the Serbs have no arms. It would be wise to spend money and efforts on collecting other items of value for your heritage such as photos, documents and other items.