Czech-American TV Helps with Searching for Czech Ancestors

People living abroad now have a much easier process for searching for their Czech ancestors thanks to the new Czech-American TV project named GENEALOGY. It is a unique internet module specially developed for the needs of all people searching for their ancestors in the Czech Republic.

“A lot people living abroad who are searching for their ancestors in the Czech Republic come across not only a language barrier, but also the old documents, such as birth certificates, passports etc., with the birthplaces of German names of the Czech villages and towns which cannot be found on the maps nowadays. These texts are usually written in Schwabacher or Kurent script which complicates the whole process. Another complication is that the Czechs who left abroad changed their names for English equivalents. In surnames, diacritics were eliminated and the names were adjusted to sound phonetically correct. For instance, Mr. Vašíček changed his name to Washicheck, Mr. Novotný to Nowotney. First names, however, were, in many cases, assigned the corresponding biblical name in English, such as Jiri to George and Katerina to Katherine, etc. And there are many more features still to come! We are working on the translation of more than 30,000 names from Czech into English over the next year, as well as the explanation of origin for Czech last names. Continue to visit our site for future updates and assistance in your genealogy research,” explains John Honner, the founder and producer of Czech-American TV and a coordinator of this new project.

This project has had great outcomes, as illustrated in the examples, with a few Americans having already found their ancestors in the Czech Republic.

On the website there is a video tutorial about the instructions of how this program works and shows all its functions. One of the favorite functions is, for instance, the translation of the German names of the Czech towns with respect to their place and the translation of the texts from Gothic or Latin script. Another interesting function is also entering particular surnames, including their English versions, with a display of their use and frequency in given Czech regions, villages, and towns.

There is also a page dedicated to the translation of names from Czech to English. This Name Translation Page includes the translation and explanation of origin of more then 500 last names, the translation of more then 200 first names, as well as an index of the diminutive forms of Czech first names.

The links to the Czech register offices or the names of the passengers who have come to the USA by boat since 1850 are also found on the website. Moreover, there are also instructions on how to translate the Czech texts on Czech websites into English.

This new software has been created and is further being developed in cooperation with the students of the Faculty of Applied Sciences at the University of Western Bohemia in Pilsen and is available to those who are interested for free.

Thanks to this project, our students are getting a very valuable praxis on a real project. And last but not least, also a professional experience and great connections,” clarifies Přemek Brada, the Head of the Department of Informatics and Computer Technology. “Within their semestral or bachelor theses, the students help to run the television production that is based on voluntary work and supports the publicity of the Czech Republic,” adds Brada.

Czech-American TV is a non-profit organization similar to PBS that has been broadcasting its educational programs on cable TV in the USA for 16 years.  It has viewers across 60 American cities, and thousands more online viewers on the website worldwide.

The main purpose of the broadcast is to spread awareness of the Czech culture, regions, and heritage. It takes the form of regular educational programs broadcasted only in English. The whole concept contributes to a positive perception of the Czech country and its regions as an interesting and safe tourist destination.

Over 40 specialists from both the USA and the Czech Republic run the organization of the TV. This team includes computer programmers, graphic designers, translators, marketers etc. The team is being enlarged thanks to the cooperation with the Czech universities. Besides the University of Western Bohemia in Pilsen, CVUT in Prague, Masaryk University in Brno, High School and a Language School in Zlin are also involved in this project. Among the important partners, there are also regional offices.

Further information can be found on the following website:

Barbora Havlová, Marketing & PR Manager Czech-American TV

Phone:  +1 708 813 0028   or    +420 737 044 680

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