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Basic information and search clues from Bulgarian genealogists

By Nikola Charakchiev, Pilgrim, Ph. D., Professor, Bulgaria
(Translation: Stefan Stefanov)

The purpose of genealogy is the revealing of the origin of persons and families. Today it is even more actual in connection with the development of sociology, gene engineering etc.
A starting point by recording the net of relationship connections is the establishing of certain basic centre. It is appropriate two types of centres to be applied – collecting (fig.1) and dividing (fig.2). The family links with the both centres are collecting and dividing links respectively. The collecting links form the diagram of the ancestors and the dividing links – the diagram of the offspring. There for it is desirable that the role of the centre is played from the youngest family member. According to that member, are ordered hierarchically the direct ancestors – mother and father, grandmother and grandfather etc. So the ancestors diagram is ready. The number of the ancestors is strictly determinate. The number to 7th generation of the ancestors is shown on tab 1.


A diagram up to 5 generation of the ancestors is shown on fig.1.

G-generation 0, 1 – assembly centre, 0 – son, 1 – daughter, 2 – father, 3 – Mother, 4, 6 – grandfather, 5, 7 – grandmother, 8, 10, 12, 14 – great-grandfather, 9 , 11, 13, 15 – great-grandmother, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30 – great-great-grandfather, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, 31 – great-great-grandmother.

Every person from that diagram can be a basic centre in another diagram and therewith to become the ancestor of certain family branch. Correspondingly to him and hierarchically then his progeny is connected. That is the most used diagram known as „pedigree tree”. The relationships among the offspring members cannot be determinate in advance as they are stochastic value. Fig.2 shows scheme of the offspring up to 7th generation.


80, 81 – Centre splitter, 0 – son (Charakchiev 1975), 1 – daughter (Charakchieva 1979), 2 – father (Nikola Charakchiev 1940), 3 – mother (Karadjova 1949), 5 – grandmother (Sotirova 1915-1989), 4 – grandfather (Charakchiev 1903-1953), 10 – great-grandfather (Sotirov 1873-1956), 11 – great-grandmother (Teofana Spasova 1882-1963), 20 – great- great-grandfather (Sotir Hadzhiprasov 1840-1904), 21 – great- great-grandmother (h. Sabka p. h. Dimitrova h. Kostova 1850-1928), 40 – three times grandfather (Hadzhiprasov), 41 – three times grandmother (Ganka), 80 – four times grandfather (Hadzhiprasov), 81 – four times grandmother (name unknown).

The main problem in genealogy is the availability of information about the family. There are two main sources of it: the interview and the literature references.
The interview is the most common method when starting and orientating yourself. The localization of the living family members is of particular importance. Also family gatherings should be used very intensive. After the first familiarizing with the situation, some research in the archive of the family documents should be made. The data kept in the birth, marriage and dead certificates revealed the extreme points of the life of a person and also the place of her/his residence at that time. This helps in determining the family church parish and the church registers – a new source of information.
The first official registers in Bulgaria can be found after 1839, when the Emperor [Sultan] of the Ottoman empire with his rule called Hatisherif established same rights for all subjects of his empire including of course the Bulgarians. The preserved „death registers” of the church from about 1850 allow obtaining information about the birth of the same persons even from the second half of XVIII century. It is nearly impossible to be traited family sources from before 1850 without special knowledge in the field. Lets go back to the family archive – we can obtain plenty of data from the family correspondence: telegrams, letters, marriage invitations, greetings and after 1843 also New Year-greetings. The post seal and the address show the place of living of the persons during that time. Many information is included also in the photographies preserved from that time. Lets remind that the first photograph in Istambul and in the Bulgarian lands at all appear about 1854. Around 1860-1870 through biggest Bulgarian towns periodically are passing travelling photographs. The photography begins to be wildly used after 1890. In the family archives are also documents for property of land, securities, cheques, obligations, confirmations, master-diplomas, marriage documents, medical documents, recipes, identity cards, bank documents etc. There is very rich information in the „region-history departments” in the libraries of the main cities. Nearly all the cities and villages have issued their own histories. Sometimes unpublished handwritten materials are kept in libraries, town halls and museums. Many dates and family links can be found in the registers for birth, marriage and death which are in the „administrative offices of the municipalities”. They are established in 1893; part of these registers have been submitted to the „district state archives” in the „ritual marriage houses” etc. From 1920 new registers of the population were established which are known as „family registers”. They have been actualized few times in 1926, 1934, 1946, and 1965. Since 1977 the function of family register is overtaken from the system ESGRAON
Also the school archives show the beginners interest of the persons. Additional information can be obtained from the merchant books for selling and buying, the protocols of the districts, the census lists, the participators in wars, the tombstones. There is personal information in the specialized issues, also membership in clubs, cultural and sport societies. Some trades can be found in the periodicals: announces for selling or buying, announces of birth, for engagement, death, name-days. Very rare can be found notes on the bibles the school books of the parents, private memory books – and books. Many recent scientific books have appendix with alphabet “pointer” persons and geographical names which is good for a quickly reference. For example „Bulgarian periodical press 1844 – 1944″ has a pointer which holds hundred years period. The over mentioned historical sources are useful for obtaining family data for the period after 1800.
For searching in the earlier times one can use the materials kept in the state historical archive of the Bulgarian National library in Sofia, the National library in Plovdiv, the District State archives, the Military archive in Veliko Tyrnovo, the Church archive in Sofia, political parties archives, etc. Very rare, but very worthy are the notes of certain family lineage which have been added to the Church books. Some difficulties come from the wild use in the past unstable combinations of the first name, fathers name, family name or the nickname. That makes the identification and the determinations of the people unreliable. Very often the people were known only with their own name and father name. If a stable family name is missing, it is necessary the generation to be explored one after the other. The pedigree is complete, if it is continued with the progeny. For that purpose a family diary could be established.
Typical for the family researchers is the question about the begin and the depth of the study. It is recommendable in the beginning only diagram of the ancestors to be made. Later one can construct a three of the full offspring of each of the known ancestors.
There can be different criteria about the volume of the work – for instance all the lineage of the side of the father or the mother, all the relatives up to third cousin etc. Except the schemes of the ancestors and progeny, the demographic schemes of the family settling in a village, abroad etc. may be of certain interest.
The genealogical studies can follow that order:
• systematization: discovering of the family connections, building a diagram and genealogical file with index cards, systematization of the photo material and the family archive;
• research: summary of the study, analysis and conclusions;
• popularization: publication of the results from the investigation, preparation and depositing the materials in specialized funds. The systematized material is much more worthy if made available for the next generations.

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