Lidija Sambunjak, professional genealogist

A joy of finding records that had been reportedly destroyed

Europe, and particularly Croatia, in the past century was rigged with wars. First World War, Second World War, as well as the latest war for independence in the early 90-ties, they all left scars in hearts and minds of people.

Those wars produced negative consequences on today’s genealogical research. Some parishes here were destroyed and so were the vital records. They would have otherwise been an important part of our research, since Vital books are considered as the main resource of historical data like birth place, birth date, parent’s names and sometimes house numbers.

A closed case

Roughly two years ago I closed a case where I wasn’t able to recover a piece of information about a birthdate & birthplace of one of my client’s ancestors. In particular, his grandfather’s second wife’s birth entry could not be found because the church records were destroyed. It was quite an interesting case, for my client had what appeared to be the exact birth date and the exact birth place of his grandmother, whose name had been Vasilija.

Vital books that are considered to be destroyed may cause a great dissapointment among those who look for their ancestry. This was the case with Vasilija’s family. Unfortunatelly, at that time, there was nothing we could have done about it.

Miracles in genealogy

However, miracles in genealogy research sometimes do happen. A few years after this case was put to rest, I had another client who was interested in finding ancestors from the same parish where Vasilija had been born. I kind of forgot that vital records about that parish were reportedly destroyed, so I did a research anyway. Soon I realized that certain copies of destroyed records do exist, but that they were unavailable to the public at the time when I did the research on Vasilija. In a meanitime, those records were released to the local archive, and suddenly were made available to anyone interested.

After going through just a few pages of newly available records, I realized that Vasilija’s surname appears to be one of the most frequent in the parish. And so a new hope was born.

Genealogical research is often a tricky thing. Documents, books, records, obituaries and family archive become available years after we gave up on our research and after we thought we did everything we could. So it’s of no wonder that genealogists like to say “let’s give it another try some time in the future”.