Jewish genealogy


What is a Familianten Record?

My mother’s mother, Ruth Weidenthal was from Cleveland, OH, descended from a Jewish family that imigrated in the late 1840s.  They were recent enough immigrants that relatives in Cleveland knew the name of the town in Bohemia from which they came.  Research on provided wonderful connections and general background.  I learned that Moses Weidenthal (Ruth Weidenthal’s grandfather) was a Familiant.  At the time, I had no idea what this meant.  Background is provided below.  See the DATA page for scans of Moses Weidenthal’s Familianten.

In 1726, due the order of the Habsburg ruler Charles VI, the number of Jewish families was limited by quota to 8,541 in Bohemia and 5,106 in Moravia.  To enforce this quota (or "numerus clausus"), a so-called "Familianten" order was issued.  According to this order, only the first-born son of each Jewish family was given permission to marry (called a "copulatio consensus").  These permits could also be sold if there was no son to inherit them.  The Familianten order was in force until 1848.  As a result, many Jews who could not obtain marriage permits emigrated from Bohemia and Moravia.  For example, by 1900 almost half of the Jews in Hungary were of Bohemian or Moravian descent.

One other result of the Familianten laws was that the government kept very good records of which families lived in which towns.  The list of Familianten were collected in the Book of Jewish Familianten (also called "Mannschaftsbuecher" in Moravia).  Records were collected in 1799 and in 1811 and updated until about 1830.  Each record comprised the name of county, registration number of the family in the whole land (based on "copulatio consensus"), the registration number of family in the county (set up in 1725), name of the father, his wife, his sons and a few other family details.  These records provide a very good resource for researchers investigating their family histories.  For some families, up to three generations are included. The Familianten record books for Bohemia can be accessed at the Czech State Archives.   For Moravia, the surviving books are not collected in one place, but are available from the various regional archives, such as in Brno or Olomouc, or in the Czech State Archives or the Jewish Museum in Prague.

Julius Müller, a professional genealogist in Prague, is in the process of compiling a database of all Jewish men listed in the Familianten registers located in the Czech State Archives in Prague.   His website is located at  This page contains an index to the towns in Bohemia for which Familianten records exist.  Click on the highlighted region next to the town name to go to the indices for that region. 

Note: I have paid Mr. Müller to obtain the Weidenthal Familianten record for Hostitz, Bohemia.  I am very pleased with his services.