Using this Website
Meyers Orts- und Verkehrs-lexikon des deutschen Reichs
This is the most important of all German gazetteers. The goal of the Meyer’s compilers 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.
The Homepage: Search the Meyers Gazetteer
On the homepage 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 ends in ‘gheim’.
- 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; ‘Munchen’ and ‘München’ 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.
- You can ‘Filter results by region’ with the drop-down menu. The regions are the various states/provinces of the Second German Empire (1871-1918). Filtering will help you determine the correct town by narrowing the number of returns you get.
Choose the town for which you want more information.
You are now on the ‘Entry’ 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 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 and the maps can be moved around with the mouse, so you can easily extend the search further around the main town.
- 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 will appear.
- You may also see a map with a large red circle instead of a pin. This means that the place has not been geocoded yet and a specific place on the map has not been identified, but it falls within the area of the red circle.
Entering the maps is a work in progress. There will be many places for which the maps have not been entered yet and you might need to bring up the map for the main town in the area to find your place.
When you click on ‘Ecclesiastical,’ you will see parish information.
- At the top you may see where the Catholic and Protestant parishes for your town are located. This is also a work in progress and this information is not listed for all places yet. (As of this writing on 21 September, 2016, there are 86,000 place names, or about 40%, that are listed.)
- You will also see a chart that lists towns within a 20-mile radius in which Catholic and Protestant parishes and synagogues are located. This will help you determine the nearest parishes, etc., if you need to do an area search. This is the same information that you saw under ‘Map,’ but in a different format.
‘Related’ provides a list of other towns that refer to your town as another jurisdiction, such as Amtsgericht, Standesamt, Landgericht, and so on.
In this section, for the town in which you are searching, you can add surnames and your email address so that you and others who are searching for the same names can contact each other to collaborate and share information. The emails are protected so that you do not receive spam. (If the security process freezes, try again later. Please add your family names and contact information!
Finally, you can also give feedback. This includes corrections, suggestions for improvements or new features, or how you use the data.
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 Meyers, especially the many abbreviations, see:
FamilySearch Wiki. “Abbreviation Table for Meyers Orts und Verkehrs Lexikon Des Deutschen Reichs.” https://familysearch.org/wiki/en/Abbreviation_Table_for_Meyers_Orts_und_Verkehrs_Lexikon_Des_Deutschen_Reichs
Uncapher, Wendy K. How to read & understand Meyers Orts- und Verkehrs-Lexikon des Deutschen Reichs. Janesville, Wisconsin: Origins, 2003.
Karte des Deutschen Reiches. Berlin: Kartographische Abteilung der Königlichen Preußischen Landesaufnahme, 1845-1916.
Meyers Orts- und Verkehrs-Lexikon des Deutschen Reichs. 5th edition. Uetrecht, E. (Erich) Leipzig and Wien: Bibliographisches Institut, 1912.