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A gazetteer is a dictionary of place-names. It describes towns and villages; townships and counties; provinces; sizes of population; and rivers, mountains, and other geographical features. Gazetteers usually include only the names of places that existed at the time the gazetteer was published. The place-names are listed in alphabetical order, similar to a dictionary.
Use a gazetteer to find the places where your family lived and to determine the civil jurisdictions over those places.
The definition of the term gazetteer, when used in a geographical sense, is a "geographical index or dictionary." When used in atlases or map indexes, gazetteers are simply assemblages of alphabetically-ordered listings of places or physical/cultural features. More extensive gazetteers include brief descriptions along with the listings. The comprehensive gazetteer, however, is an encyclopedia of geographical places and features. The Columbia Gazetteer of the World is such an encyclopedia.
Russian Empire Gazetteers[edit | edit source]
Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, and the Baltics were previously in the Russian Empire. In 1797 each county (uezd) was divided into districts (volost) and villages (derevnya or selo; a selo normally had a church). A city (gorod) was independent of the county/district hierarchy. This organization remained stable throughout the 19th century, the number of provinces increasing to 50 in European Russian (excluding Finland and Poland). The Soviets used the term oblast for the highest jurisdictional level and created more of them. Records of modern states may be found in the archive of another state that was an imperial capital. They also instituted the region (raion) to replace both the county and district levels.
Spiski naselennykh Mest Rossiiskoi Imperii (Списки населенных мест Российской Имперіи)[edit | edit source]
(Lists of Populated Places in Imperial Russia)
For instructions on how to use the Spiski, please see the Spiski Gazetteer Online Russia How to Guide.
The basic gazetteer for the Russian Empire is Spiski Naselennykh Mest Rossiiskoi Imperii [Lists of Populated Places in Imperial Russia]. S. Peterburg: Tsentralnyi Statisticheskii Komitet Ministerstvo Vnutrennikh Del, 1861-1885.62 vols. (Fiche 6,002,224 /420 microfiches). The gazeteer is organized by locality, first by Gubernia (province), then by Uyezd (county), and finally by Gorod (city) or Derevniye (village).
These locality directories identify location and religious congregations. They are available on microfiche from the Family History Library. Copies of a few individual volumes can be found occasionally in major research libraries. Some of them are also available online. The text is in Russian. Each volume contains a locality index. Go to the catalog entry (or click here) for this gazetteer to determine which micorfiche you will need for each gubernia.
These details include only the set of gazetteers that are available at the FHL in microfiche form, in all there are 97 gazetteers included in the Spiski naselennykh Mest Rossiiskoi Imperii from the 1850-1870’s during the Russian Empire Period.
Most of these, and more areas can be found online from the list below by clicking the Cyrillic form of the name:
Online Availability[edit | edit source]
I. Европейская Россия (European Russia)[edit | edit source]
Земля Донского войска (Zemlya Voyska Donskago)
Екатеринославская г. (Yekaterinslav)
14. Казанская г. (Kazan)
15. Калужская г. (Kaluga)
16. Киевская г. (Kiev); Alternative Kiev gazetteer: Spisok naselennykh mest Kievskoĭ gubernii, 1900
Московская г. (Moskow)
Нижегородская г. (Nizhniy Novgorod)
Новгородская г. (Novgorod)
Олонецкая г. (Olonets)
Оренбургская г. (Orenburg)
Орловская г. (Orel)
Пензенская г. (Penza)
Пермская г. (Perm)
Подольская г. (Podolsk)
Полтавская г. (Poltava)
Псковская г. (Pskov)
Рязанская г. (Ryazan)
Самарская г. (Samara)
Санктпетербургская г. (St. Petersburg)
Саратовская г. (Saratov)
Симбирская г. (Simbirsk)
Смоленская г. (Smolensk)
Таврическая г. (Tavrida)
II. Царство Польскаго (Kingdom of Poland) [edit | edit source]
III. Великое княжество Финляндия (Grand Duchy of Finland)[edit | edit source]
IV. Кавказ (Caucasus)[edit | edit source]
Бакинская г. (Baku) Alphabetical list of places in Baku province
Дагестан обл. (alternative list of places for this area--based on info from family lists for 1886)
Елисаветпольская г. (Elisavetpol) (alternative list of places for this province--based on info from family lists for 1886)
Карская обл. (alternative list of places for this area--based on info from family lists for 1886)
Кубанская обл. (Kuban)
Кутаисская г. (Kutaisi) Alphabetical list of places in Kutaisi province
Ставропольская г. (Stavropol) Alphabetical list of places in Stavropol province
Терская обл. (Terek)
Тифлисская г. (Tiflis) (alternative list of places for this province--based on info from family lists for 1886)
Черноморская г. (alternative list of places for this area--based on info from family lists for 1886)
Эриванская г. (Erivan) Alphabetical list of places in Erivan province
V. Сибирь (Siberia) [edit | edit source]
VI. Средняя Азия (Central Asia) [edit | edit source]
Сыр. Yesрьинская обл.
Russisches Geographisches Namenbuch[edit | edit source]
For instructions on how to use the Russisches Geographisches Namenbuch (RGN), please see the RGN Gazetteer Russia How to Guide.
The best comprehensive gazetteer of all localities in Imperial Russia is by Vasmer, Max. Russisches Geographisches Namenbuch [Russian Geographical Namebook]. Wiesbaden: Harassowitz, 1964-1981. Nachtrag (Supplement), 1988. 11 vols. (FHL INTL Book 947 E5r). Spiski naselennykh Mest Rossiiski Imperii were the primary source for much of the data. This set of books is referred to as the RGN and includes eleven volumes plus the Kartenband (maps).
Localities are listed in the Cyrillic alphabet but the gazetteer is still usable to non-Russian readers because the descriptions are in German. The pre-1917 administrative units of guberniya (G.) and uyezd (Kr.) are given. The German word for uyezd is Kreis. If there are several localities in the same guberniya, the guberniya is indicated only after the first locality in the guberniya. It is not repeated for each subsequent locality listed.
Soviet Union Gazetteers[edit | edit source]
Official Standard Names for U.S.S.R.[edit | edit source]
United States Board on Geographic Names. Official Standard Names for U.S.S.R. FHL INTL Book 947 E5u. 1959, 1970. Film 0928609,0928610 (Item 1-2),087455,087456, Fiche 6053504. These seven volumes list the localities for the entire Soviet Union, in English, giving a brief description of the kind of locality, the coordinates, and showing the administrative regions. The administrative region is represented by number. These numbers are explained in the beginning of each book.
Regional directories[edit | edit source]