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What is a gazetteer?
A gazetteer is a geographical dictionary or directory of place names. When used in conjunction with maps and atlases, it can be a very powerful tool. Maps are a great resource to locate where your ancestors lived, however, sometimes the name of a small town or village may be omitted. This is why gazetteers are an excellent compliment to these old maps. Because a gazetteer is a dictionary of place names, you will find the names of all cities, towns and villages listed in alphabetical order. There are a variety of different types of gazetteers, which, along with the location and name of places, can provide interesting statistics about towns, villages and cities.
How are gazetteers helpful to genealogists?
You can find the name of the providence, state, county, city, town or village that existed at the time the gazetteer was published. In some cases, you may also discover the former names of these places as well. Gazetteers will provide you with the boundaries of civil jurisdiction and the distances between cities. Longitude and latitude coordinates They provide the location and information on local parishes/churches, schools and civic offices. This gives you insight on where you can further research and locate records. Documentation such as birth/death certificate, baptism records, and marriage/divorce records may be found in these locations. You may even find the location of state offices, which may hold the immigration records of your ancestors. They may also provide topographical information about the area your ancestor lived.
The Meyers Gazetteer is the most widely used German Gazetteer. It's most valuable use has to do with genealogy and family history. This link gives some basic information about this wonderful resource and a detailed description on how to use it. Tips on the Meyer's Gazetteer
- The Meyer's Gazetteer is now online. This makes it an even more valuable and accessible resource to those researching their German Genealogy. Meyer's Gazetteer (often referred to as Meyers Orts) lists the names of places as they existed in Germany from 1871 to 1912. It gives the name of the state or province where each town was located at that time. The gazetteer was written in Gothic print, which made it hard to read. Now, the online version is very east to use.
- The Historic Gazetteer is one of the features on a large online German Genealogy Data Base. It is still being developed. So, if it isn't helpful for you on your first attempt check back at another time.
- Bayerische Landesbibliothek Online . (In German)
- Bavaria Germany Town Locators
- This link will take you to a website that provides a list of Places in Bavaria whose names have changed over time or which have completely disappeared
This alphabetical list of cities is helpful if you do not know the current name of a town that you have found on an old document. It often says __________is the former name of _________. So, if you only know the current name of a place this list won't be very helpful.
- Additional information about gazetteers can be found in the FamilySearch Germany Research Section and the FamilySearch page simply titled Gazetteers