Germans from Russia Gazetteers

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A gazetteer is a dictionary of place-names. Gazetteers describe towns and villages, parishes, provinces, rivers and mountains, sizes of population, and other geographical features. They usually include only the names of places that existed at the time the gazetteer was published. Russian gazetteers generally list place-names in a geographical order, for example, “population points on the country road upwards from the small town of Gancheshty.”

Gazetteers may also provide additional information about towns, such as:

  • The different religious denominations.
  • The schools, colleges, and universities.
  • Major manufacturing works. canals, docks, and railroad stations.

You can use a gazetteer to locate the places where your family lived and to determine the civil and church jurisdictions over those places. For example: Kronental (Simpferopol), Tavrida, Russia is a small village which belongs to the Lutheran parish of Neusatz.

Many places in the Russian Empire had the same or very similar names. You will need to use a gazetteer to identify the specific town where your ancestor lived, the county and province it was in, and the jurisdictions where records about him were kept.

Gazetteers are also necessary for determining country jurisdictions as used in the FamilySearch Catalog.

Finding Place-Names in the FamilySearch Catalog

Place-names in the FamilySearch Catalog are listed under the provinces [guberniia] of the Russian Empire prior to 1917 (except the Ukraine where Soviet oblasts are used). Modern successor nations have a second, contemporary locality listing. To find the county and province that a town is filed under in the FamilySearch Catalog, you can use the “see” references on the first Family History Library Locality Catalog microfiche for Russia (Empire). If you use the catalog on compact disc, use the “Locality Browse” Search. The computer will find places with that name.

Because of the many changes in place-names, the Family History Library uses one gazetteer set as the standard guide for listing places in the FamilySearch Catalog. Regardless of the names a place may have had at various times, all Russian Empire places (except Baku province) are listed in the FamilySearch Catalog by the name cited in:

Списки населённых мест Российской империи (Spiski Naselennykh míèst Rossīĭskoĭ Imperīi = Gazetteer of the Russian Empire). Sostavlennye i izdavayemye Tsentral’nym statisticheskim komitetom Ministerstva vnutrennikh del. Zug, Switz.: Inter Documentation Co., 1976. (FHL fiche 6002224, parts 1-420). This set is incomplete and lists Russian Empire localities and civil jurisdictions for the following provinces: v. 1 - Arkhangel’sk v. 2 - Astrakhan, v. 3 - Bessarabia, v. 6 - Vladimir, v. 7 - Vologda, v. 9 - Voronezh, v. 10 - Vyatka, v. 12 - Zemlya Voyska Donskago, v. 13 Yekaterinoslav, v. 14 - Kazan, v. 15 - Kaluga, v. 18 - Kostroma, v. 20 - Kursk, v. 24 - Moskva, v. 25 - Nizhniy Novgorod, v. 27 - Olonets, v. 28 - Orenburg, v. 29 - Orel, v. 30 - Penza, v. 31 - Perm, v. 33 - Poltava, v. 34 - Pskov, v. 35 - Ryazan, v. 36 - Samara, v. 37 - Sanktpeterburg, v. 38 - Saratov, v. 39 - Simbirsk, v. 40 - Smolensk, v. 41- Tavrida, v. 42 - Tambov, v. 43 - Tver, v. 44 - Tula, v. 45 - Ufa, v. 46 - Khar’kov v. 47 - Kherson, v. 48 - Chernigov, v. 50 - Yaroslav, v. 51 - Yeniseysk, v. 60 - Tobol’sk v. 60a - Tomsk, v. 65 - Baku. Text in Russian.

The following gazetteer is often helpful for southern Russia and the Caucasus but is used as the FamilySearch Catalog authority only for Baku:

Сборник сведении о Кавказе (Sbornik svíèdíèniĭ o Kavkazíè = Gazeteer of the Caucasus). 5 v. Izdannyy pod redaktsiyeyu glavnago redaktora N. Zeydlitsa. Tiflis.: V tip. Glav. upr. Namestnika Kavkazskago, 1871-1880. (FHL film 2025061). Text in Russian. This publication lists Russian Empire localities and civil jurisdictions for the following areas: v. 5 pt. 1 Yerivan, Kutais, Baku, Stavropol, Tersk oblasts. Text in Russian.

For western Russian Empire jurisdictions see:

Списки населённых мест Мниской губернии (Spisok naselennykh míèst Minskoĭ gubernīi = Gazetteer of Minsk Province). Minsk: Minskyy Gubernskyy Statisticheskyy Komitet, 1909. (FHL film 1923576 item 1). Text in Russian.

Списки населённых мест Могилевской губернии (Spisok naselennykh míèst Mogilevskoĭ gubernīi = Gazetteer of Mogilev Province). Mogilev: Gubernskyy Statisticheskyy Komitet, 1910. (FHL film 1923576 item 2). Text in Russian.

Списки населённых мест Витебской губернии (Spisok naselennykh míèst Vitebsk’oĭ gubernīi = Gazetteer of Vitebsk Province). Vitebsk: Gubernskyy Statisticheskyy Komitet, 1906. (FHL film 1923576 item 3'). Text in Russian.

Feldmann, Hans. Baltisches historisches Ortslexikon (Baltic Historical Gazetteer). Köln: Boehlau, 1985-. (FHL book 947.4 E5fh'). v. 1 - Estland (einschliesslich Nordlivland), v. 2 - Lettland (Südlivland und Kurland). Text in German.

Gazetteers considered somewhat useful but rarely used as FamilySearch Catalog authorities include:

United States. Board on Geographic Names. Official Standard Names for U.S.S.R. Washington, D.C.: USGPO, 1970. (FHL book Ref 947 E5u 1970; fiche 6001801-807').

Semenov-Tíàn-Shanskiĭ, Petr Petrovich. Географическо-статистический словарь Российской империи (Geografichesko-statisticheskīĭ slovar’ Rossiĭskoĭ imperīi = Geographical Dictionary of Imperial Russia). 5 v. Sanktpeterburg: V. tip. bezobrazova i komp., 1863-1885. (FHL films 1764206-1764208). Text in Russian.

Vasmer, Max. Russisches geographisches Namenbuch (Russian Gazetteer). 11 v. Wiesbaden: O. Harrassiwitz, 1964-1988. (FHL book 947 E5r). Text in German. Used as the FamilySearch Catalog authority only for Grodno, Kiev, Novgorod, Podolia, Suvalki, Vilna, and Volhynia.

Modern Place-Names

For some research purposes, such as correspondence, it is useful to learn modern jurisdictions for the area where your ancestors lived. For Russian-German research this is most relevant in the area of Ukraine. Consult the following modern gazetteer and geographic gazetteer for information of this type:

Українська РСР, адміністративно-територіально поділ: на січя 1972 року (Ukraĭins’ka RSR, administratyvno-terytorial’no podil: na 1 sichíà 1972 roku = A 1973 Directory of Administrative Units in the Ukraine). Kyïv: Vydavnytstvo Politychnoyi Literatry Ukrayiny, 1973. (FHL book Ref 947.71 E5u). Text in Russian. Localities are listed by province [област = oblast] and district [раион = raĭon]. Includes index.

Історія міст і сіл УССР (Istoriíà mist i sil Ukraĭns’koĭ RSR = Gazetteer and Encyclopedia of Ukraine). 26 v. Kyïv: Instytut Istorii Akademii Nauk URSR, 1969-1974. (FHL book Ref 947.71 E5i). Text in Russian.

Check the FamilySearch Catalog for additional gazetteers that document localities in the Russian Empire’s modern successor nations, as well as the points of immigration in North and South America..

Historical German Place-Names in Russia

The following sources help identify German settlements in Russia:

Edlund, Thomas K., and Daniel M. Schlyter. German Settlements in Russia??? Davis, Calif.: Federation of East European Family History Societies, 1999. (Not yet at FHL). Alphabetical list of over 5,000 German settlements with each settlement’s region, district, year founded, religion, parish, alternate names, and sometimes mother colony.

Deutsches Ausland-Institut (Stuttgart). Kartei der Ansiedlungsorte, 1750-1943 (Index of Settlements). Salt Lake City: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1988. (FHL film 1568385-86, and 1568438-39). Includes settlements in Austria-Hungary, Russia, Poland, and Italy. First group is alphabetical by village name, and cross-referenced to emigrants’ names. Second group is alphabetical by province and surname.

Deutsches Ausland-Institut (Stuttgart). Kartei der deutsche Dörfer in Rußland,1750-1945 (Index of German villages in Russia). Salt Lake City: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1988. (FHL film 1552797-98). Alphabetical by German names, if known, otherwise by official Russian name. Lists original name, official name, German equivalents; state, provincial, and other jurisdictions, settlers’ place of origin, religion, ethnic composition, size, year of founding, schools, and churches. In some cases church records are inventoried.

Deutsches Ausland-Institut (Stuttgart). Kartei der deutschen Dörfer in Rußland einschließlich Ostgalizien, 1750-1943 (Index of German villages in Russia and East Galicia). Salt Lake City: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1988. (FHL film 1538831-32). Alphabetical by German names, if known, otherwise by official Russian name. Lists original name, official name, German equivalents; state, provincial, and other jurisdictions, settlers’ place of origin, religion, ethnic composition, size, year of founding, schools, and churches.

Bauer, Armand. Place Names of German Colonies in Russia and the Rumanian Dobrudja. Bound with Richard Sallet, Russian-German Settlements in the United States. Fargo, N. Dak.: North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies, 1974. (FHL book 973 F2rs; fiche 6089058). Alphabetical lists of communities region-by-region: Black Sea Regions: Kherson, Yekaterinoslav, Tavrien [Taurin], Krim [Crimea], Charkov, Don; Volga Region; Ukrainian-Volhynia Region. Lists community name, district, settlement date, type of church (Catholic, Lutheran, Mennonite).

Germans from Russia Settlement Locations has used the maps of Karl Stumpp to calculate the latitude and longitude of over 2,000 German villages in Russia and plotted them on custom, searchable Google maps. Ancestral names along with current names and countries and other infomration about the villages are included.

Significant information about German-speaking villages in Russia and eastern Europe is available via computer network Internet sites described in the “Archives and Libraries” page of this article. Additional gazetteers and similar guides to Russian place names are listed in the Place Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under:

Most supporting societies (see side bar of the page) will have resources to assist in finding places. Online, several lists are available including the Long List of German Villages on the Odessa3 site. This list is quite complete for the Volga, Black Sea, and Bessarabia regions but is not complete for Volhynia, Kiev or Podolia. An excellent resource for many places (though it does not always include German variants of place names) is ShtetlSeeker. Though hosted by Jewishgen, it lists all communities in Eastern Europe and more.