Gazetteers are geographical dictionaries, and as such, they’re valuable tools for genealogists. Gazetteers can provide useful and interesting historical information about the places where our ancestors lived, and identify the parish and registry office assignments for those ancestral villages. Since different types of documents were created at different administrative levels, it’s important to know the complete administrative assignments for your ancestral village over time, so that you can locate records relevant to your research. Gazetteers will provide that information. Finally, gazetteers can help you reconcile “conflicting evidence” for ancestral place of origin. By “conflicting evidence,” I mean that some apparent conflicts in evidence are not actual conflicts: frequently, immigrants would refer to the county or province they were from, rather than the specific village, under the assumption that those place names might be more recognizable and meaningful to their audience. So, it might seem confusing at first, if immigrant members of my great-grandmother’s family cited Poland, Russia, Kalisz, Słupca, and Kowalewo as their place of origin on historical records from the late 19th- and early 20th centuries. However, gazetteers will reveal that Kowalewo was a village and parish seat located in Słupca County, in what is now Poland, but was formerly the Kalisz province of the Russian Empire. Problem solved!
Since Poland did not exist as an independent nation for 123 years, the gazetteers we select for Polish genealogy will depend on the partition in which our ancestors lived (Russian, Prussian, or Austrian). Additional considerations for use include the style of the gazetteer (phonetic, e-book, or database), time period, language, and format (paragraph-style entries, or simple tabular layout). There’s overlap between those styles, as well, thanks to the existence of gazetteer databases created from historical sources, such as the Meyers Gazetteer, Kartenmeister, and the Baza Miejscowości Kresowych (Eastern Borderlands Places). Phonetic gazetteers are especially useful for identifying place names that were misspelled on source documents, but you may need to consult additional gazetteers in order to identify the parish or determine administrative assignments for the village.
Here, then, is an annotated list of useful gazetteers for Polish genealogy. I’ve mentioned some of them before in this post about my favorite internet resources, and this article also walks you through the process of choosing and using them, but this table includes some new ones and is hopefully organized in a way to make it easy to select the best gazetteers for your needs. Please note that the table is best viewed on a computer, rather than a tablet or mobile device. Happy researching!
|Name||Coverage Area||Coverage Area||Publication Date||Language||Links & Remarks|
|JewishGen Gazetteer||Includes 1,000,000 localities in 54 countries in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, & Central Asia||phonetic||present day||English||Gazetteer is here. Beider-Morse searching is more precise but offers limited hits; Daitch-Mokotoff gives more search hits. Locations with Jewish communities are searched separately, here.|
Baza Miejscowości Kresowych
|Database of 54,962 places in the kresy wschodnie (Poland’s eastern borderlands region); includes places presently located in Poland, Belarus, Lithuania, & Ukraine||phonetic||1920–1938||Polish, English||Gazetteer is here. “Direct” searching requires use of proper diacritics, but search options include Soundex & Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex.|
|Słownik geograficzny Królestwa Polskiego i innych krajów słowiańskich||All localities in the former Polish provinces of Russia, most localities in the former Austrian province of Galicia (now divided between Poland & Ukraine), Belorussian provinces of the Russian Empire (now in Belarus), & also contains significant localities in Russia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria & Romania. Places from Prussian provinces of Poznan, West Prussia, East Prussia, Silesia, & Pomerania are also covered, though info may be less comprehensive.||paragraph||1880-1902, 15 volumes||Polish||Gazetteer is here. Wildcard searching: “%” replaces any string of characters, “_” can be used to replace a single character. Assistance with unfamiliar terminology is available here. Assistance with deciphering abbreviations is here. Some translated Słownik entries are available from Polish Roots. To access translated entries, hover cursor over “Geography & Maps” option in menu bar at the top of the page, then select a letter of the alphabet to view entries for places beginning with that letter. Additional translated entries are available here as a members-only benefit of the Polish Genealogical Society of America.|
|Skorowidz Królestwa Polskiego, T. 1 & 2||Królestwo Polskie (Kingdom of Poland, i.e. Congress Poland or Russian Poland)||tabular||1877||Polish, Russian column headings||Tom (Volume) 1, A–N |
Tom (Volume) 2, O–Z
|Tabella miast, wsi, osad Królestwa Polskiego, T. 1 & 2||Kingdom of Poland||tabular||1827||Polish||Tom (Volume) 1, A–Ł|
Tom (Volume) 2, M–Z
|Списки населенных мест Российской Имперіи (List of Populated Places in Imperial Russia)||Russian Empire||tabular||1861–1885, 62 volumes||Russian||Some volumes available online, click here for links.|
|Brian Lenius’ Genealogical Gazetteer of Galicia: Expanded Data Edition||Galicia (Austrian Empire, presently southeastern Poland/western Ukraine)||tabular, print book, not online||1999, but covers period from 1896–1914||English||Can be ordered here from the author.|
|Gemeindelexikon der im Reichsrate vertretenen Königreiche und Länder, Bd. 12 Galizien||Galicia||tabular||1907||German||Gazetteer is here. Tips for using are here (David Gorz) and here (Matthew Bielawa).|
|Galician Town Locator||Galicia||tabular||c. 1900||Place names in German or Polish||Gazetteer is here.|
|Najnowszy skorowidz wszystkich miejscowości z przysiółkami w Królestwie Galicyi… by Jan Bigo||Galicia||tabular||1886–1918||Polish||Gazetteer from 1914 is here. Similar content from different publication years can be found here.|
|Skorowidz miejscowości Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej||Second Polish Republic (1918–1939)||tabular||c. 1933||Polish||Gazetteer is here.|
|Nazwy miejscowe Polski : historia, pochodzenie, zmiany||Present-day Poland||paragraph||1997–2019||Polish||Tom (Volume) 1, A–B|
Tom 2, C–D
Tom 3, E–I
Tom 4, J–Kn
Tom 5, Ko–Ky
Tom 6, L–Ma
Some additional volumes available in print only; series remains unfinished.
|Słownik historyczno-geograficzny ziem polskich w średniowieczu||Medieval Poland||paragraph||Middle Ages up to 1530||Polish||Gazetteer is here.|
|Genealogische Orts-Verzeichnis (GOV), The Historic Gazetteer||Worldwide||database||Present day||German website, can be used in English||Gazetteer is here.|
|Kartenmeister||Eastprussia, including Memel, Westprussia, Brandenburg, Posen, Pomerania, & Silesia. All locations are east of the Oder and Neisse rivers.||database||Based on province borders as of Spring 1918||English; place names can be searched in German or Polish||Gazetteer is here.|
|Gemeindelexikon für das Königreich Preußen : auf Grund der Materialen der Volkszählung vom 1. Dezember 1905 und anderer amtlicher Quellen||Kingdom of Prussia, Germany (includes Polish territories in East Prussia, West Prussia, Pomerania, Brandenburg, Posen, & Silesia).||tabular||1907–1909||German||15 Volumes; can be accessed here. Also available on Ancestry (with a subscription), here.|
|Meyers Orts- und Verkehrs-lexikon des deutschen Reichs||German Empire||paragraph, database||1871–1918||German (print), English (database)||Gazetteer is here.|
© Julie Roberts Szczepankiewicz 2022