A gazetteer is a dictionary of place names. Gazetteers describe towns, villages, churches and states, rivers and mountains, populations, and other geographical features. They usually include only the names of places that existed at the time the gazetteer was published and often their former names. The place names are generally listed in alphabetical order, similar to a dictionary. Gazetteers can help you find the places where your family lived and determine the civil and church jurisdictions over those places. Gazetteers can also help you determine county jurisdictions used in the FamilySearch Catalog.
Gazetteers may also provide additional information about towns, such as:
- The population size.
- Boundaries of civil jurisdiction.
- Ecclesiastical jurisdiction(s)
- Longitude and latitude.
- Distances and direction from other from cities.
- Schools, colleges, and universities.
- Denominations and number of churches.
- Major manufacturing works, canals, docks, and railroad stations.
The following gazetteers are universal or near-universal:
- Google Maps Current information only.
- Mapquest Current information only.
- Wikipedia Includes historical information.
- JewishGen Gazetteer Includes mapping function.
- Fuzzy Gazetteer IOSDP Project Includes latitude and longitude. Very useful when spelling is uncertain.
- JRC Fuzzy Gazetteer Includes mapping function.
- Darby's Universal gazetteer, or, A new geographical dictionary Online and searchable. Published 1826.
- Geschichtliche Ortsverzeichnis (Historical Gazetteer) Provided by the Society for Computer Genealogy (Vereins für Computergenealogie). Site in German. See maps on home page for coverage areas.