Gazetteers. You have got to love them to do genealogical research outside the USA. How do you learn the maps of the country your grandparents or great-grandparents knew? Today’s atlases or Google Maps only give you the view as of the present (at least point at which it was published). You need an historical perspective. Hence why you need to use Gazetteers. Maps/Atlases give you the picture and Gazetteers give you the intelligence/ontext about the maps.
Here’s an list of excellent Gazetteers:
- Skorowidz Miejscowości Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej
- Genealogical Gazetteer of Galicia
- Gemeindelexikon für das Königreich Preußen.
- Slownik geograficzny królestwa polskiego i innych krajów slowiańskych.
Stanczyk has developed his resource (an index of an index?) on the Skorowidz Miejscowości Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej [Index of Placenames of the Republic of Poland]. The Skorowidz is an excellent resource for all of Poland covering all parts (Russian-Poland, Austrian-Poland and German-Poland partition areas) that were within the borders of Poland circa 1934. This is the resource you need to use to find your ancestral parish. It is online (click the above link to reach the online version). It has a short-coming: it does NOT list the synagogues — pity, otherwise excellent.
The flat out best Gazetteer for its research and even for its included maps to give a sense of location relative to today is Brian Lenius’ well researched, Genealogical Gazetteer of Galicia. As its name implies it is only for Galicia, an area that is presently with Poland and Ukraine. This area of historical Poland was in the Austrian-Poland partition and finally eastern parts after Napoleon, were in the Russian-partition. Brian’s book does include synagogues! Some treatment of Polish versus German names and Ukrainian names is also mentioned. It is not online. Buy the book if you find ancestors lived in Galicia.
The Gemeindelexikon is a very good resource for what was Prussia (or Prussian-Poalnd) areas. It also indicates the location of parishes and gives statistics for sex, ethnicities, or religious affiliation. It is online in the BYU library. But if you have Ancestry.com, it has a faster and easier user interface to the information.
ShtetlSeeker is part of the JewishGen website and is predominantly a resource for Jewish settlements, villages, synagogues, data, etc. I also use it for my Catholic family villages. It is particularly useful if you do not know the spelling of your ancestral village. It also provides on the map with icons of other resources: Yizkor books, JRI-Poland data. It is by definition online.
Kartenmeister is for those parts of Poland formerly ruled by Prussia. It is online. It is an excellent resource if you only know the Polish name or the German name of a locale and you need to know the other name. It also has maps. It has two mini-lists cross-references: Lithuanian-German-English and Latin-German-English. Which makes sense in that those languages are the language of Prussian records for their territories.
The Slownik geograficzny królestwa polskiego i innych krajów slowiańskych is a multi-volume gazetteer / dictionary of places in Poland and other Slavic kingdoms. The dictionary is written in Polish. It is online here. That is yet another Polish Digital Library that I have written about recently (Malopolska). Each volume (or Tome abbreviated T. or tom.). Some translations are on the PGSA.org website or you use the Google Translator. It is filled with abbreviations (PGSA is helpful).
Here are a couple of more resources…
Family Search with their excellent wiki(s) has a page on Poland Gazetteers. The LDS also have these resources as microfilm or books within their Family History Library.
The LDS also has a PDF (you need Adobe Acrobat Reader) for Finding Places in the former RUSSIAN EMPIRE . This PDF is not a gazetteer, but is a valuable resource. You can Google ‘Spisok naselennykh mest gubernii’ to find individual volumes in Libraries or possibly online. Finally, see this wiki page for Russian Empire Gubernya Gazetteers.
PGSA.org has a list of map resources here. They also have a project to index the 1907, The Illustrated Geographic Atlas of the Kingdom of Poland . An esthetically lovely historical atlas, with the indexes providing you with an indication of which villages are the parish. Stanczyk indexed the Stopnicki powiat.