Joint Database as Research Tool – Sources on the Society of Budapest (1870s–1910s) on ’Hungaricana’ Portal

New possibilities on archival research

By András Sipos

Budapest City Archives  

Hungaricana is the joint cultural heritage portal of Hungarian public collections: libraries, museums and archives ( It was released in 2014, the development was financed by the National Cultural Fund (NKA). Its basic task is to offer integrated access by one click to all the digital content created in different cultural heritage institutions in the framework of all projects supported by NKA, beyond this it includes also a lot of digital contents created making use of other financial sources. Digital objects and metadata which are searchable here are the outcomes of many years of systematic work. The number of content provider institutions is more than 120.

The Portal is organized by databases of visual sources, publications, archival records and cartographic sources.


The „Library” part merges the full collection of digitized publications of museums and archival institutions with the digitized holdings of libraries (e. g. Parliamentary Papers preserved by the Library of Parliament, regional and local newspapers preserved by the county libraries or address directories of the Budapest Metropolitan Ervin Szabo Library). In the „Gallery” the visitor can search or browse nearly 415.000 images at this moment, including the high-resolution images of precious paintings of the Historic Gallery of the National Museum, beautiful pieces of the tapestry collection of the Museum of Applied Arts or vast collections of postcards and different photo archives.


Another feature that makes Hungaricana special is the representation of historical maps thanks to the GIS (Geographic Information System) technology. The processed maps are on the one hand from the Austrian State Archives: military surveys of the whole Habsburg Empire (1:28.800, map sheets drawn by hand); on the other hand very detailed and precisely edited cadastral maps from the Hungarian and Croatian Archives (scale 1:2.880). Georeferenced maps can be browsed in 2 and 3 dimensional, synchronized mode, moreover they can be placed on a present-day Google Map or Open StreetMap. ( The users gain access to the rich map collections of the National Széchenyi Library, National Archives of Hungary, National Széchenyi Library, Institute and Museum of Military History, Budapest City Archives and different county archives.

The collection of military maps of WWI, organized by the theatres of war with different countries, deserves special international interest. (

Photo and Postcard collections of the „Gallery” database are georeferenced and can be explored by navigating on historical maps or searched by toponyms. We receive for example 3884 hits for Vienna: these are photos and postcards preserved in Hungarian collections.


The „Archives” section of Hungaricana offers an extremely wide range of basic sources, from a complete corpus of medieval charters preserved or copied and registered by the National Archives to a complete series of the minutes of the governing bodies of Capital Budapest between 1873–1990, or the minutes of the capital city and county level bodies of the ruling communist party after 1948.


The sub-database of the finding aids created by the Hungarian archival delegates and other Hungarian researchers in Österreichisches Staatsarchiv Haus-, Hof- und Saatsarchiv and Hofkammerarchiv in Vienna contains the short descriptions of more than 155.000 items of the following holdings:

ÖStA HHStA Kabinettsarchiv, Staatsrat 1833-1840
ÖStA HHStA Kabinettsarchiv, Minister Kolowrat Akten 1822-1848
ÖStA HHStA Kabinettsarchiv, Geheimakten 1802-1918
ÖStA HHStA Kabinettsarchiv, Kabinettskanzleiakten 1802-1848
ÖStA HHStA Kabinettsarchiv, Reichsrat Präsidialakten 1851-1860
ÖStA HHStA Kabinettsarchiv, Reichsrat Gremialakten 1851-1860
ÖStA HHStA Kabinettsarchiv, jüngerer Staatsrat 1861-1867
ÖStA HHStA Reichsarchive Reichsregisterbücher Ferdinand I. 1529-1533
ÖStA HHStA Ministerium des Äußern Informationsbüro A-Akten, BM-Akten 1849-1851, 1852-1867
ÖStA HHStA Länderabteilungen, Ungarische Akten Allgemeine Akten 1463-1861
ÖStA HHStA Länderabteilungen, Ungarische Akten Allgemeine Akten 1463-1530
ÖStA HHStA Länderabteilungen,Ungarische Akten Specialia 1463-1830
ÖStA HHStA Länderabteilungen,Ungarische Akten Comitialia 1492-1844
ÖStA HHStA Länderabteilungen,Ungarische Akten Miscellanea 1490-1825
ÖStA HHStA Staatenabteilungen, Türkei I. (Turcica) 1521-1652
ÖStA FHKA Hoffinanz Ungarn (1275) 1525-1652
ÖStA FHKA Gedenkbücher, ungarische Reihe 1541-1548
ÖStA FHKA Ungarisches Münz- und Bergwesen 1526-1630
ÖStA FHKA SUS KuR Niederösterreichische Reverse und Bürgverscheibungen 1550-1640
ÖStA FHKA Gedenkbücher, österreichische (niederösterreichische) Reihe 1547-1558

The search engine allows the user to conduct queries among all the databases simultaneously or specified for sub-databases, types of sources or content provider institutions.  Advanced search function of the „Archives” section makes possible to conduct sophisticated queries which are specific for the types of sources. Hungaricana not only makes our research time-efficient, but opens totally new possibilities to connect pieces of information hidden in different sources with each other in such a way, which was practically unfeasible by traditional research.


Research of modern urban – especially metropolitan – societies is rendered more difficult by the fact that the traces of the huge number of inhabitants are highly dispersed in different archival fonds which are vasty in themselves, so the connection of these traces is hopeless in many cases through traditional research. „Archives” section of Hungaricana makes this connection possible, offering access by simultaneous search in different types of mass records created during the everyday functioning of the society in the 19th and early 20th centruries. Such types of records on the society of Budapest which are already available (partly only metadata, partly also digitized records themselves) are the followings (

  • Notarial records 1875-1918 complete, (1920-30s on-going)
  • Last wills, testaments 1696-1950
  • Inheritence files (19-20th centuries)
  • Court files (penalty and civil suits)
  • Orphans’ Office files 1874-1919 (this period is nearly complete)
  • City Council Minutes of Buda and Pest (18-19th centuries)
  • Registers of prisons and penitentiary institutions (ongoing)
  • Architectural plans
  • Real estate registers of Pest and Óbuda (1878–1921/26)
  • Database of Associations
  • Topographical database

By querying and filtering these records „en masse” – which are preserved and arranged on the basis of the principle of provenance, that means following the administrative logic of the original creators – the individuals can be seen in the context of their transactions and interactions with other members of their social networks, and the user of the database can reconstruct these lines of networks in time-effective way. Let me present these possibilities shortly through one example.

    Gustav Petschacher (1844, Wien – 1890, Budapest)

[] was one of the excellent architects  who resettled to Budapest during the era of metropolitan transformation after the Compromise of 1867 and creation of Capital Budapest through the unification of three cities, to capitalise their expertise and creativity here. He was the apprentice of Heinrich Ferstel and Friedrich Schmidt in Vienna, and resettled to Budapest in 1873 (year of the unification of the municipalities) as the chief architect of the Radialstraßenbau-Unternehmung. The opening of this new boulevard connecting the Inner City with the City Park (Stadtwäldchen, in Hungarian Városliget) was decided in 1870 and the construction work began in 1872 (Radialstraße, today Andrássy Straße). The enterprise bankrupted as a consequence of the 1873 crisis, and Petschacher continued his career as a private architect. He became an outstanding master of the neorenaissance architecture of the era.

His first important independent work was the villa Nr. 126 Radialstraße which was built in 1875.]

The builder was Vince Weninger (1834-1879), Director of the Hungarian General Credit Bank, one of the most important figures of the Hungarian financial elite and adviser of the government in financial affairs. Gustav Petschacher married Irma Weninger the daughter of the builder in 1878, which was a decisive step to integrate into the local society. His „oeuvre” includes representative palaces and tenements on the Andrássy street.


When he died unexpectedly in his prime of life, he left behind 6 children and a five-storey tenement under construction, which he planned for himself and his family as a safe investment. He had chosen a corner plot on the section of the Great Ring Boulevard (Großring, Nagykörút), which passed through Josefstadt: 27. József körút, District VIII.

Tenement_GPTenement house of Gustav Petschacher –
planned by himself, 1889 BFL XV.17.d.329 – 36419

Note: I got the hit on Hungaricana relating to the Orphans’ Office file created after Gustav Petschacher’s death by conducting search not for his person, but for files which contain management records of tenement houses, this type of source is a rarity from this period of Budapest. Archives of builders, developers or landlords have not been preserved, so we have extremely scarce archival data about their expenses and incomes. Owing to the task of the wards and guardians to manage the assets of the orphans or people under guardianship for their benefit and account fully for the Orphans’ Office, the records of this organisation (which are preserved imperfectly) contain detailed accounts on house management in some cases.  These could have been discovered by traditional research just by chance, but the cases of occurrence are registered in the database, so it gives an opportunitiy for the first time to search these unique and unparallelled sources throughout the whole corpus.


The lack of other sources relating to the acts, transactions and strategies of the actors of city development and housing sector enhances the significance of notarial records and real estate registers. Querying of notarial records is possible according to the name, occupation and social status or the adress of the actors. And the real estate registeres can be opened by clicking the plot on a georeferenced cadastral map.

Connecting these sources, we can reconstruct quite in details how the Petschachers bought, owned and enjoyed this estate.

The real estate register informs us about the fact, that Gustav Petschacher and Irma Weninger purchased the plot on 7th April 1888 for 22.600 Fl. ö. W. The notarial deed of the purchase contract (BFL – VII.200.a – 1888 – 0478) contains the important piece of information, that the burdens charged earlier on the plot had to be detracted from this price and the buyers had to enter into possession without any charges.   [] The building of a new five-storey house on the plot was entered into the real estate register in November 1889.

real_estate_registerReal Estate Register Sheets of VIII. József körút 27 with the entry of purchasing the plot by Gustav Petschacher and Irma Weninger. BFL XV.37.c – 5732.

We gain an also fundamental information from the Charges section of the same estate register: 15th July 1889 the architect and his wife received a mortgage of 60.000 Fl. ö. W. from the K. und k. Privilegierte Allgemeine Boden-Credit-Anstalt in Wien, to be repaid in 84 bi-annual annuities of 1575 Fl., being the 85th annuity 2361 Fl.

The digitisation and on-line publication of the real estate registers opens the possibility to collect data „en-masse” on the credit financement of house-building. At this moment we have only blurred and diffuse picture about that. It seems to be quite interesting, that Petschacher, who had intimate relationship with the financial market of Budapest through the family of his wife, turned to the Viennese credit market, when he needed a really big sum for a long term. This raises a general question about the role of the Viennese credit market in the finance management of the building and housing sector of Budapest, and Hungaricana may be a therefore useful tool to try to gain at least some tentative conclusions about that.

Petschacher’s part of the house ownership was inherited by his six children (five daughters and one son). Their guardian was Irma Weninger’s brother, a banker himself. On the Charges section of the estate register occurred new and new mortgages charged on the widow’s part of ownership. Her share was burdened with 32.587 Fl. new mortgage altogether in 1895/96. Among the biggest creditors we find, beside two big commercial banks in Budapest, the Firm Árvay and Co. to which she was indebted to 5000 Fl. The digitized address registers on Hungaricana show us easily that it was an elegant fashion clothes store on the centrally located Elisabeth Square (Erzsébet tér) at the boundary of the Inner City and Leopoldstadt.


The widow was put under guardianship because of „squandering” in 1897. We find a detailed list of her debts in the above mentioned Orphan’s Office file, which enumerates 63.266 Fl. mortgage debts and interests (including her share of the Viennese credit taken together with her husband for the building of the tenement) and 10.090 Fl. current debts.

There was a few years period during which each of the children was still underage and the widow was under guardianship, so all ownership shares of the house were under the surveillance of the Orphans’ Office. Thanks to this fact the researcher enjoys the rare possibility to find full accounts of the yearly incomes of the tenement József körút 27.

We can strike the balance for the year 1898 as following:

Rents (paid in quarter-yearly items) 9841 Fl
      Annuities of the 60 000 Fl. credit 3150 Fl
      Taxes, fees, reparation, maintenance 1191 Fl
Total burden   4341 Fl
  Clear rental income 5500 Fl
         Irma Weninger 2750 Fl
        6 children – alimentary and educational costs 2750 Fl

The history of proprietorship of the family can be followed by the combination of these sources until 1918, when they sold the house for the foundation of the neighbouring Rabbi Seminar which transformed it to a boarding school.

Tracing this story we become informed also about the marriages of Petschacher’s daughters. Agathe Peschacher married Gyula Elischer, who was a well-known physician, professor of radiology. Maria Lujza Petschacher’s husband was Ede Szenes, who was the heir of one of the most exclusive grocery- and delicatessen shops in the Inner City. When he tried to put the affairs of his life in order in 1915 – presumably because of joining to the army – he pledged himself in a notarial deed to pay 25.000 Kr. annuities to Maria in case of cessation of their marriage for any reason. [HU BFL – VII.192 – 1915 – 1283]


Marta Etelka Petschacher lived with her husband Henrik Szalay, a merchant, in Vienna. We know from a notarial deed, that their adress was VIII. Lerchenfelderstrasse 8, Wien in 1920. [BFL_VII_217_a_1920_2433] The fourth daughter, Olga married Worthington Estelle Hagerman, a painter and musician from Indiana, USA, and she became a painter herself.  Numerous traces of the life of these families can be detected in the database. We meet three of the daughters last time in a notarial deed of 1937 when Agatha and Maria were already widows.

The Petschachers’ tenement 27. József körút is a potential starting point for lots of other research directions using Hungaricana. The digitised address registers, which are accessible in pdf. format in the Library section and searchable by full-text, offer the possibility to reconstruct the list of tenants and the annual changes through querying „József körút 27”. Being tenants’ list of the register organized by the names of the tenants, to compile a list of a particular house, mainly following the changes year by year, this work couldn’t have been done with reasonable allocation or without digitisation. We are fortunate enough in this case to have the opportunity to piece it out with a list in the Orphans’ Office file, which was compiled at the beginning of the guardianship over Irma Weninger and contains even the rental fee of each flat.

Conducting new querys on the names of the tenents we get valuable hits about most of them in different archival and printed sources, opening new and new lines of networks of these people. Following these lines in a consistant way, the researcher can reconstruct the networks of society in which the inhabitants of a house (or a neighbourhood, a larger bloc…) were embedded.

József körút 27 could make a boast of some renowned tenants around the turn of the century, who merit our interest for themselves. We find here the excellent historian Dávid Angyal (1857–1943) as an employee of the University Library, who became later a professor of modern history.  Jenő Péterfy art critic and literary historian, an outstanding figure of the aesthetic discourse of the era moved to an other flat from here supposedly not much before his suicide committed in November 1899. Emil Demjanovich, a well-known physician was the personal doctor of Mór Jókai and Kálmán Mikszáth, the most famous Hungarian writers of the 19th century.


    Jenő Péterfy as a tenant of József körút 27. – A hit on Hungaricana, Budapest Adress Register, 1898

But let’s turn our attention for a moment to István Hazay, a not so well known, but not less interesting occupant of a flat. It seems to be surprising in itself, why he rented a flat here, as he had an own tenement just a few corners distance from here, Nr. 9. József körút. His father was Ernő Hazay (-1845 Heim) (1819–1889) an officer in the army of war for independence in 1848, sentenced to death and emigrated after the defeat. He was a member of Parliament in the 1870/80s and a landowner in Esztergom county. István Hazay was a governmental officer and he became the secretary of Prime Minister Kálmán Széll. At the same time he worked for the famous satirical weekly Borsszem Jankó. He created the permanent figure of „Nagypárthy Viktor” playing with the double meaning of the word „party”. „Párt” means political party in Hungarian (nagy párt = big party). „Making a good party” has a meaning to marry a daughter of a rich family. So his Nagypárthy Viktor is a typical representative of the offsprings of the landed nobility, who is a loud actor in the political arena, but his real aim is to make his „good party”.

István Hazay inherited a well-located tenement from his father Nr. 36. Rákóczi Street, which was the main radial thoroughfare connecting the Inner City with the Keleti Railway Station. He sold this house in October 1892 for 173.000 Fl. ö. W. [BFL – VII.173.a – 1892 – 2606] [] The buyer was Henrik Adler, an active player of the housing business in Elisabethstadt (VII. District), this fact is reflected in lots of hits on Hungaricana. So this opens a new perspective of research to reconstruct the role of this tenement in his investment strategies…

István Hazay bought the plot Nr. 9. József körút in February 1893 for 92.500 Fl. ö. W. Most probably he needed the margin between the sale and purchase prices for other obligations, but he had far-reaching plans with the new plot. As we know from the real estate register, he charged a new mortgage of 160.000 Fl. ö. W. on this plot (creditor: United Capital Savings-Bank in Budapest), and the building of a four-storied tenement house was finished in June 1894.  When he died abruptly in November 1901 the list of deeds found in his flat was registered in a new notarial deed which offers numerous further data on his transactions. [BFL – VII.202 – 1901 – 0931] []

These types of sources have the significant limit that they offer rich data only on social strata which were in possession of assets which required these sorts of legal procedures, and were able to pay the transaction costs. About the lower social strata we have to search other sources. A rich treasure of mass data in this field which is already accessible on Hungaricana is the database of registers of prisons and penitentiary institutions containing more than 277.000 records at this moment from the end of the 19th and the first half of the 20th centuries. The huge volumes of these registers are preserved without name indices, so it was hopeless to find anybody in them. Before building database and making it accessible on Hungaricana these were practically „dead” holdings, now they are mines of information on the internet.


Conducting a query on toponyms we receive for example 2267 hits for Vienna (Bécs). Filtering this list of hits by fields we find that it means the place of birth in 1724 cases and the place of residence in 646 cases. These are all traces which can be investigated further in Vienna.


András Sipos ist Archivdirektor des Stadtarchivs Budapest (HU) und Koordinator der Arbeitsgruppe „Katasterkarten“ bei ICARUS – International Centre of Archival Research – sowie des ’Hungaricana’ Portals.














OpenEdition schlägt Ihnen vor, diesen Beitrag wie folgt zu zitieren:
Redaktion (26. Juli 2016). Joint Database as Research Tool – Sources on the Society of Budapest (1870s–1910s) on ’Hungaricana’ Portal. EN ROUTE TO A SHARED IDENTITY. Abgerufen am 17. Juli 2024 von


Univ.-Doz. Dr. Adelheid Krah ist Senior Lecturer am Institut für Geschichte der Universität Wien; sie forscht und lehrt als habilitierte Universitätsdozentin, SL, in den Bereichen Mittelalterliche Geschichte, eLearning, Geschichte Mittel/Zentraleuropas und Westeuropas. Sie arbeitete auch als Archivarin am Bayerischen Hauptstaatsarchiv in München, ist Fellow des DHI-Paris und im Vorstand von ICARUS.

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