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Eastern European: Locating Places
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Successful genealogical research in Eastern Europe is all about location, location, location. Our ancestors lived in specific places, and the records about them were usually created on a local level, in the town or parish where they resided. Even records of larger jurisdictions, such as at the national level (e.g., census records), were generally written by officials in the specific place where a family lived. Further, it is through a family’s location that we, in part, identify them.

Therefore, locating places in Eastern Europe is critical to the research process. For North Americans, this begins with learning the correct place where an immigrant came from; his ancestral home. From there it is essential to identify the parish where the family attended church. As research progresses, there is often the discovery that persons married into families from other areas. Those locations must also be identified, so that appropriate records can be searched. The primary tools for such research are gazetteers. Learning how to locate, interpret, and use gazetteers will be the primary focus of this course. However, important aspects of Eastern European border changes and political and administrative divisions are also necessary to understand, as is the ability to read, and correctly comprehend place names which may not be familiar to an English-speaking researcher. We will briefly address these issues in this course as well.

The purpose of this course is to learn how to successfully determine ancestral locations in Eastern Europe in order to learn where to find the key records you need to correctly identify your ancestor. For an in-depth study of countries or ethnic groups, students should take the appropriate elective courses.

Course Content

Identifying Your Ancestor's Hometown


Significance of Border Changes
• Key Border Changes

Where Did Your Ancestor Really Come From?
• Czech (Czechy)
• Hungarian
• Polish
• Slovak
• Romanian
• Russian
• Ukrainian

Sources for Identifying the Hometown
• Best Sources for Finding the Ancestral Village
• Hit-or-Miss Records for Place Data
• Confirming the Ancestral Hometown

Cities That Share Provincial, County, or State Names
• Port Cities

Geographic Names or Terms that are Not Towns
Reading & Interpreting Place Names

Using Maps, Atlases & Gazetteers


Online Atlases & Map Libraries
• Austrian Atlases
• Austrian Maps
• Austrian Gazetteers

• Austrian JewishGen Communities Database
• Austrian JewishGen Gazetteer

Google Earth
• Austrian Using Google Earth to Locate the Town or Village

Pinning & Locality-Based Websites
• Austrian Pinterest
• Austrian History Pin
• Austrian What Was There

Other Strategies

Austro-Hungarian Empire

Brief History
• Austria
• Austrian Empire (Kingdoms & Crownlands)
• Hungarian Kingdom
• Historical Hungarian Counties 1867-1918

• Austria
• Hungarian

German Empire

Brief History
Administrative Divisions & Terminology
Online Tools
Modern-Day Atlases

• Other Gazetteers

Tips for Locating Places

Russian Empire

Brief History
Administrative Divisions & Terminology

• Soviet Union Gazetteers

Czechoslovakia, Poland, Baltic States & Other Areas

Brief History
• Czechoslovakia
• Bohemia
• Moravia
• Slovakia

• Slovakia, Czechoslovakia & Czech Republic
• Silesia
• Ruthenia (Carpatho-Rusyn)
• Croatia
• Poland
• Slłownik
• Galicia
• Romania
• Ukraine
• Western Ukraine
• Lithuania
• Belarus
• Estonia
• Latvia
• Other Areas


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