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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.

Online SourcesEdit

There are many resources available online to help researchers locate their ancestor's German colony.

Long German Russian Village List: The list, last updated February 2012 (original list was created in 1999), includes the name of the village and the region and/or district. It may also include information regarding the parish, foundation year, prominent religions, longitude/latitude coordinates, alternate names or references to other useful sources. 2012 German Russian Village List here. 1999 German Russian Village here.

Germans from Russia Settlement Locations and Current Name(s): This list provides village names and/or alternate names, period jurisdictions as well as current names and modern jurisdictions. Latitude and longitude coordinates are also included. Access the list here.

Germans from Russia Settlement Locations: This website offers Google maps of German settlements throughout the Russian Empire based on historical maps and community contributions. Town entries also provide information regarding name variations, foundation information, as well as the name of the gubernia (governorate) or oblast. The site is updated regularly, so check back often for new content. Visit their website here.

Volga German Institute @ Fairfield University: Use the gazetteer, located under the Locations tab, to search for localities. Entry pages typically include alternate names, Russian spellings, associated mother or daughter colonies, a brief history, information regarding the parish, population statistics and common surnames. Access the site at: https://vgi.fairfield.edu/

The Center for Volga German Studies at Concordia University (CVGS): CVGS is another great source for Volga German research. Their gazetteer, which contains mother and daughter colonies as well as other locations important to Volga German history, is located on the menu tab on the left-hand side under the heading Gazetteer. The gazetteer is organized alphabetically. Visit the CVGS website at: http://cvgs.cu-portland.edu/

Black Sea German Research: This free website includes links to useful websites and/or village lists for areas near the Black Sea. Click on the Research tab at the top right and choose the option Area/town/village specific to find resources for your locality. Visit their webpage at: http://www.blackseagr.org/

Volhynia:  This website is a useful resource for Volhynia research. Use links under the Geography heading on the right-hand side to help you locate places in Volhynia. Access the website using: http://www.volhynia.com/

Search the Web: Search the web to discover additional online resources, websites, or blogs for your town of interest. Go to a search page such as http://www.google.com. In the search box, type [name of town, Russia] or [name of town, Germans from Russia]. Even if your town name is slightly misspelled, search results should still appear. If a search returns no results, may be due to a major misspelling of the German name. Use wild card searches, or if necessary, return to research in primary records to find more information on the hometown.

Wikipedia: Go to http://www.wikipedia.org and type the name of the village in the search box. If there is a Wiki page available, it may include a brief history as well as modern and/or historical jurisdictions. Pay careful attention to the references – they may help locate other information regarding the town.

Genealogical Societies: Additional resources are available through genealogical societies. Read more about it here.

Village Coordinators: Many German colonies have village coordinators, or individuals with extensive knowledge of the colony. These individuals often know about families and surnames in the area, the location of the parish church, and where records are located/how to access them. Village coordinators can be located through genealogical societies or a web search.

WolgaDeutsche: This website is in Russian, but the google translate feature in Chrome can assist you in translation. Many Volga colonies have short histories, and the forum can help you solve research problems and collaborate with others working in your area. Visit their website at http://www.wolgadeutsche.net.

JewishGen: Even if your ancestors were not Jewish, the JewishGen gazetteer is a great online gazetteer for the former Russian Empire. It provides pre and post war jurisdictions, current location and other information. Search the gazetteer by using the Town Finder Database here.

Grandma's Window: Online database of Mennonite place names in Prussia and South Russia. Requires a fee and registration. Visit http://www.grandmaonline.org for more information.

Register of German Settlements of Russia: This website is in Russian, but the google translate feature in the Chrome web browser can assist you in translation. Select Settlements (поселения) to access the gazetteer. The gazetteer is organized alphabetically (Cyrillic alphabet) and the Russian town names are used followed by the German variant in parentheses. Town entries include histories and links to other useful sites. Visit the website at https://siedlung.rusdeutsch.ru/ru

Bessarabian Village Names: List of villages in Bessarabia. Includes the village name, jurisdictions, parish and other information. The document is searchable using the Ctrl-F feature. The list is available through the Odessa Digital Library at http://odessa3.org/collections/bess/link/bessvl.txt

Crimea Area Villages: List of villages in or near the Crimea. The list includes village name, district, foundation year and other information. Use this resource at http://www.odessa3.org/collections/refs/link/crimeavl.txt

Mennonite Villages in Russia: Use this resource to locate places where your Mennonite German ancestors lived. See http://www.odessa3.org/collections/refs/link/menvil.txt

Odessa Area Villages: The Odessa Area Villages source indicates the names of villages in the Odessa area as well as information such as group, rayon (district), foundation year and religion. Access the list here: http://www.odessa3.org/collections/refs/link/odessavl.txt

Volga Area Villages: A compilation of Volga place names. The list provides information such as group/district, founding year, population, religion and other remarks. Visit http://www.odessa3.org/collections/refs/link/volgavl.txt

Volhynian Place Names: This resource is a list of places in Volhynia and provides important political jurisdictions. Access the list through the Odessa Digital Library: http://www.odessa3.org/collections/refs/link/places.txt

Published WorksEdit

Stumpp, Karl. The Emigration from Germany to Russia in the years 1763 to 1862. St. Lincoln, Nebraska: American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, 1982. FHL 943 W2sk1978.

Mertens, Ulrich. German-Russian Handbook. Fargo, North Dakota: North Dakota State University Libraries, Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, 2010. FHL 947 F27m.

Klaus, A.A. Our Colonies. St. Petursburg, Russia, 1869. (Text in Russian or German). View the German online version here. View the Russian online version here.

Leibbrandt, George. Die deutschen Siedlungen in der Sowjetunion. Berlin, 1941. There are several volumes:

Volume 1: Petersburg Colonies

Volume 2: Volhynia

Volume 3: Ukraine and Crimea

Volume 4: Don Area and the Caucasus

Volume 5: Volga

The Ukraine/Crimea volume is available online here. Other volumes may be available at major libraries.

Немецкие Населенные пункты в Российской Империи: Справочник. Москва, 2006. (German Localities in the Russian Empire: Handbook, Moscow 2006). Text is in Russian. FHL 947 F26d. Available online here

Giesinger, Adam. From Catherine to Khrushchev. Marian Press: Battleford, Saskatchewan, Canada, 1974. FHL 947F2ga.

Freeman, Robert and Margaret (Zimmerman). Index to Place Names Found in: "From Katherine to Khrushchev," by Adam Giesinger. FHL 947F2gaindex.

Pleve, Igor R. The German Colonies on the Volga: The Second Half of the Eighteenth Century. Lincoln, Nebraska: American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, 2001. FHL reference 947.46F2p.

Sallet, Richard. Russian German Settlements in the United States. Fargo, ND: North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies, 1974. FHL 973 F2rs.

Bauer, Armand. "Place Names of German Colonies in Russia and the Romanian Dobrudja." Located on pp. 130-183 of: Sallet, Richard. Russian German Settlements in the United States. Fargo, ND: North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies, 1974. FHL 973 F2rs.

GazetteersEdit

Transliteration: Many of these gazetteers use Russian, so you may find it helpful to transliterate the name of your town into Russian characters. Online sources above may help you determine the Russian name/spelling, but if not, use Stephen P. Morse's Russian Transliteration tool available here.

Russisches Geographisches Namenbuch, or the RGN, is an eleven-volume gazetteer compiled by Max Vasmer. The entries are alphabetically organized (using the Cyrillic alphabet, except for places in Congress Poland, which use the Latin alphabet). RGN entries are in German and typically provide the pre-1917 jurisdictions of gubernia (G.) and the uyezd (Kr.). The RGN only provides information regarding political jurisdictions and references to other sources and gazetteers used in the creation of the RGN. The Spiski Naselennykh Mest Rossiiskoi Imperii was used as a major primary source for much of the information found in the RGN. For detailed instructions on how to use the RGN, please see the “RGN Gazetteer: How to Guide." The RGN is not available online. If you are unable to use the gazetteer at the Family History Library, consider using the Spiski gazetteer.

Spiski Naselennykh Mest Rossiiskoi Imperii, or the Spiski gazetteer, is the most comprehensive gazetteer for the Russian Empire. Each volume consists of a gubernia or oblast of the empire. Therefore, in order to use this gazetteer effectively, it is necessary to know which gubernia your town was located in. The RGN provides a volume and reference number that can be used as shortcut to quickly locate the entry in the Spiskii. If you do not have access to the RGN, use the alphabetical index at the back of the volume. Many Spiski volumes are available online and links are provided on the FamilySearch Wiki “Russia Gazetteers” page under the heading: Spiski Online Availability. For detailed instructions on how to use the Spiski, refer to this “Spiski Gazetteer Online: How to Guide."

Gazetteer of Bessarabia (Moldavia/Ukraine) FHL 947.6 E5s 1985

Finding Place-Names in the FamilySearch CatalogEdit

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-NamesEdit

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 RussiaEdit

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).

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: