As children, we used to share what we did on our summer vacations. As an adult genealogist, I can’t wait to share what I learned on my summer vacation about finding ancestral towns in Germany!
The Meyers Gazetteer has gone online (not new news), but at the recent IGGP conference, I learned that it has all sorts of cool features to help you locate your town, records about the town, and other researchers.
Meyers was first published in 1912 in multi-volume book format. It’s long been the “go to” source for finding small towns in Germany as it was published before most of these small towns were swallowed up by bigger cities. In 1912, Germany was at the height of its imperial expanse, which means that it covers a large territory (and many potential ancestral towns), including areas that are no longer in Germany.
How to use Meyers online
1) Search for your town. If your town name has umlauts, use the umlauted vowel (Gräfenhausen) or no umlaut (Grafenhausen). Don’t expand the umlaut using e (Graefenhausen). If there is more than one town with your name, you’ll get a list of options choose from.
2) View the main search results. This includes a view of the original published entry in Fraktur and information about the village, with a key in the column to the right so you can decipher each description.
3) Click on the map tab. Here’s where it gets cool. The site will show you a historical map, and by hovering over “Toggle Historical Map,” you get the option to pinpoint the locations of the nearest Protestant and Catholic churches, Jewish synagogues, and Standesämter (civil offices). Click on “Toggle Historical Map” and you switch to Google maps, allowing you to locate where the town is today (even if swallowed up by a city). Clicking on the “Ecclesiastical” tab gives you a list of the specific parish names.
4) Click on the “E-mail” tab. This is cool, too. It allows you to enter your email address (masked) and the family name you are searching so you can connect with other researchers from that village!
One of the things I love about this site is that it is entirely maintained by two people who volunteer their time to make this valuable tool available for FREE for all German genealogy users. Click on the “Feedback” tab to send them a thank you!