Sunday, September 7, 200818:20:34 CET
Hungary's church registers database in the plans?

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A recently published study on the Society of Hungarian Archivists website (Az egyházi anyakönyvek digitalizálásának lehetőségei) suggests that a digitization of the metrical registers of churches within modern Hungary's borders might be brewing soon. The study was written by Arcanum's Sándor Biszak, and two archivists of Roman Catholic diocesan archives, Andor Lakatos (Kalocsa) and Ádám Vajk (Győr).

The authors go into details about the sources first, their scope of information and calculating the figures involved (chapter 2). A survey of efforts at FamilySearch,, the Passau R. C. Diocese, The National Archives and two services covering Scottish research follow (chapter 3). This part treats three projects of Hungarian archives, too (Kalocsa, Győr, Nógrád County). Chapter 4 discusses the levels of digitization and service possible, chapter 5 compares these. Pitfalls are listed in chapter 6.

The study has many interesting details and figures involved in such a digitization, such as the change in the research needs at archives (huge growth of family history cases),
the total number of reels of microfilmed registers (about 3.3 millions), the percentage of available original indices (6%) etc.

For a possible digitization the authors suggest that instead of using the available microfilm copies as a source of scanning, the originals should be recorded using high performance professional digital still cameras. However, they have doubts about the feasibility of access to the originals. In contrast to the situation today, we can read about the way the Mormon microfilming in Hungary in the 1960s could be ordered by authorities.

The assessed cost of recording (shooting the images) with minimal metadata added is about 2 million US $. Three levels of textual processing are calculated: 1) personal names index: 2 million $, 2) a database with more information tailored for family historians: 8 million $, 3) a database enabling any kind of historical research: 16 million $.

It's an impressive study, I must say, but there is one weak point in it that, I believe, makes the whole concept questionable. And this is the digitization efforts of LDS. The authors seem like missing ScanStone and the accompanying Family Search Indexing projects altogether.

True, the appearance of Hungarian church registers in Family Search Indexing is anybody's guess, it should not be that far to make a project with similar efforts and offerings reasonable.

filed under: Databases Genealogy industry


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