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Learn about German place names

Researchers of German ancestry have long relied upon Erich Uetrecht's gazetteer, Meyers Geographical and Commercial Gazetteer of the German Empire (or Meyers Orts- und Verkehrs-Lexikon des Deutschen Reichs). The gazetteer, compiled in 1912, contains information on more than 210,000 cities, towns, hamlets, villages, etc.

It may contain information about the following:

  • name of place
  • place type
  • name of state to which it belongs
  • government district
  • population
  • post office and other communications information
  • railroad information
  • courts
  • consulate
  • embassy
  • churches
  • schools
  • institutes
  • military
  • financial
  • business institutions
  • trades and industries
  • shipping traffic
  • local government services
  • dependent places

While the gazetteer provides valuable information about places, it can be difficult to use if German is not your first language. Fortunately, the Family History Library has published an excellent guide to working with the Meyers Gazetteer. Access their free guide here.

For years, the Meyers Gazetteer has only been available in book form. Ancestry recently published the series online. It can be viewed and searched here.


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