Meyers Orts- und Verkehrs-Lexikon des Deutschen Reichs
An extremely exciting development in German genealogical research has recently occurred. Meyers Orts- und Verkehrs-Lexikon des Deutschen Reichs (Meyer’s) has now been indexed, put online, and coupled with the Karte des Deutschen Reiches. Although versions of Meyer’s have been online in various places for some time, this version has many features that set it apart from all others and make it an invaluable tool for German research.
Fritz Juengling Ph.D., A.G.
Gazetteer Now Online, Indexed and Fully Searchable!
Marion Rainey & Brad Coleman
of the project
As early as 1994 Marion Rainey felt inspired to index
Meyer’s. So, she set herself to the task
and for the next 20+ years has spent countless hours indexing the multi-volume
work—without any compensation or indexing help.
After some time, Brad Coleman, a computer programmer, volunteered to
help with the technical and computer aspects of the project. The result of
their work is a powerful tool for German research. Their desire is to have this
new tool online and free for all researchers forever.
Meyers Orts- und Verkehrs-lexikon des
This is the most important of all German gazetteers. The
goal was to list every place name in the German Empire (1871-1918). It gives the location, i.e. the state and other jurisdictions, where the civil registry
office was and parishes if that town had them.
It also gives lots of other information about each place. The only drawback to Meyer’s is that if a
town did not have a parish, it does not tell where the parish was, making
reference to other works necessary.
access Meyer’s gazetteer:
Merely click on the title link at the top of this article, or, if coming from outside this website, type ‘meyersgaz.org’ into the URL box. Once you have done
that, you will come to the Meyersgaz.org homepage where you will see a search
box. Type the name of your place in the
search box. You can use a wildcard * (an asterisk) in your search. For example, ‘*gheim’ will return ‘Balgheim,
Bergheim, Bietigheim, Billigheim’ and anything else that contains ‘gheim.’
Also, you can type only the beginning of a name and it will return all places
that begin with those letters. For
example, ‘Neu’ will return ‘Neu Abbau, Neu Abschwangen, Neuacker, Neuafrika’
and many others. You do not need to include umlauts, as ‘Munchen’ will return
‘München.’ You can type umlauts if you
wish, but you should not expand umlauts, e.g. ‘ü’ as ‘ue’, as that will return
no hits. Now, a list of places with that name will appear—all those places of
the same name, but with other jurisdictions which will help you identify your
town. Choose the town for which you want more information.
Once you are on the town page, you will see the name of
your town and a menu that includes the following items: Entry, Map,
Ecclesiastical, Related, E-mail, and Feedback.
You are on the ‘entry’ page. You will see the entry as it
appears in Meyer’s, the extraction of the entry, the explanation of the
extraction, and a map. The extractions include and are primarily limited to jurisdictions
and parish information. The explanations are helpful for those who do not speak
German or are not familiar with the old jurisdictions. For example, you will learn what Kreis, Bezirkskommando, and Landgericht
mean. By clicking on ‘View entry on PDF
of the original page,’ you can see the entire page on which the entry
appears. Click on ‘Show previous and
next entry’ to see the previous and following entries. If there was a
correction in the Meyer’s addendum, this will also be indicated.
After you have read the information on this page, click
on ‘Map’ in the menu or on the map itself. You will now see your town on the
old Karte des deutschen Reiches. This
set of maps was produced during the time of the German Empire and so
corresponds chronologically to Meyer’s.
You can zoom in and out. If you
click on the words ‘Toggle Historical Map’ in the upper right-hand corner, you
can switch to Google Maps. This is
especially helpful if you are searching in Poland or other areas of the former
German Empire that are now in other countries.
This is because you can get the current, i.e. non-German, name of the town.
If you hover on ‘Toggle Historical Map,’ you will see a menu. If you click on the menu items, you will see
pins appear on the map that correspond to what you have chosen, either Jurisdiction
(all places where other jurisdictions are given, such as Kreis, Bezirkskommando,
and Landgericht that are included in
the entry), surrounding Standesämter (civil registry offices),Catholic
parishes, Protestant parishes, or Jewish synagogues. This will help you
determine the location of the nearest parishes, etc., within a 20-mile radius, should you need to do an area
search. You can also click on the pins and the names of corresponding towns
When you click on ‘Ecclesiastical,’ you will see where
the Catholic and Protestant parishes are (as of this writing on 26 August, 2016
only 50,000, i.e. about a quarter of the place names in Meyer’s, are listed. It
is a work in progress). You will also get a list of nearby towns that have
parishes or synagogues with the distance from your town. This will help you determine the nearest parishes, etc., within a 20-mile radius, if you need to do an area search.
This is the same information that you saw under “Map,’ but in a different
‘Related’ provides a list of other towns that refer to
your town as another jurisdiction, such as Amtsgericht.
In this section, for the town in which you are searching,
you can add names and your email address so that others who are searching for
the same names can contact you. Then you can collaborate and share information.
The emails are protected so that you do not receive spam. (Please add your search names and contact information!)
Finally, you can also give feedback. This includes corrections, suggestions for
improvements or new features, how you use the data, or just a word or two to
compliment the owners of the site.
As with most projects, this is a work in progress and
will evolve over time. Additions and corrections are being made as of this
writing. It is possible that other
features may be added in the future. In the meantime, it is hoped that
researchers will use this very valuable tool in their research.
To learn more about Meyer’s, especially the many
FamilySearch Wiki. “Abbreviation Table for Meyers Orts und Verkehrs
Lexikon Des Deutschen
FamilySearch Wiki. “"How to" Guides for International Research.”
[Scroll down to the section
for Germany and search for the “How to” guides for Meyer’s].
Uncapher, Wendy K. How to
read & understand Meyers Orts- und Verkehrs-Lexikon des
Janesville, Wisconsin: Origins, 2003.
Karte des Deutschen Reiches. Berlin:
Kartographische Abteilung der Königlichen Preußischen
Meyers Orts- und Verkehrs-Lexikon des Deutschen Reichs. 5th edition. Uetrecht, E. (Erich)
Leipzig and Wien: Bibliographisches
We send our appreciation to Dr. Juengling and to Shirley Riemer, Editor of Der Blumenbaum for providing information to us on how to access this powerful tool developed by Marion Rainey and Brad Coleman.
Don Zamzow, Web Editor