Hungary for History
9/1/2008
Let our guide take the bite out of tracing your clan in current and former Magyar lands.

What do you get when you mix together a mishmash of ethnicities, a powerful political union and an exodus of emigrants, then let it stew for several generations? We're referring, of course, to the genealogical goulash cooked up by the Austro-Hungarian Empire. By the time Eastern European immigrants were flocking to America (1880s to 1920s), Austria-Hungary had swallowed up the center of the Continent — including areas of present-day Croatia, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine in Hungary's domain.

As a result, the 1.4 million Americans who claim Magyar ancestry share their Hungarian roots with people whose ancestors came from all over Eastern Europe. They also share a number of genealogical challenges: confusing geography, unfamiliar languages, and surname and place name changes.