Monday, August 25, 2008

The history of Croatian surnames: Hrvatski Prezimenik

As you may know, the use of surnames does not go back that far in history. In fact, its origin varies greatly in different cultures and geographic areas. The Croatian people's use of surnames is one of the longest in history: going back to the 12th-century.

Thanks to a new book, you can now research your family's surnames as they existed throughout Croatia or see lists of the surnames of your ancestral villages within one volume. Hrvatski Prezimenik by Franjo Maletić and Petar Simunovic is an encyclopedic work on the surnames of the Croatian people. Covering 114,643 surnames and 6654 villages, it is exhaustive in its coverage of the history of surnames in Croatia, from the beginning of their use (as far back as records go) to the 2001 Croatian census.

The work relied heavily on Simunovic's 1948 work Leksika prezimena SR Hrvatske and its archival research.

According to August Kovačec who reviewed the book, this surname study could not have come at a better time. The current flow of Croatian citizens from town to town and across borders will bring huge shifts in population within the country.

For more information about this new resource, see Ivan Curkovic's And the Most Common Surname in Croatia Today is… or view the article Svojevrsni krsni list Hrvatske (Collection of Croatian surnames) at the blog (in Croatian). Thanks to Google Translate's Croatian service, even if you are not a fluent speaker of Hrvatski you can still read most of the text.

Unfortunately, the book (although over 2,000 pages) retails for more than $200 (1.200,00 kuna) so I won't be purchasing a copy of it for myself quite yet. I'm waiting for a nearby library to acquire it or a kind soul to look up my family's surnames and ancestral villages in their copy.

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