Re: question about proper Geographical designations

Heidi Arno

Pam and others
When I list locations in my genealogy, I try to do it so that future generations can use my information to locate the original record where I found it.  In many cases this requires, as John Kitz noted, that both/several designations be given.  As example, my mother in law was born in 1920 in Angerburg, East Prussia.  This town is now Węgorzewo, Poland.  The records I found in are listed under Angerburg, East Prussia, and I have entered my data as Angerburg because that's how the film where records are found is labeled.   

The location thing can get to be complicated.  One of my husband's ancestors bought land in Michigan Territory, US in early 1830's.  The location is now Wisconsin, and BLM lists the record as Wisconsin in its database even though the scan that comes up online says Michigan.  To be honest, if they had listed it as Michigan, I probably would never have found it, so thank you BLM.  

All valid questions Pam.  Others might have additional guidance. 


On Sat, Aug 1, 2020 at 10:19 AM John W. Kitz <John.Kitz-gen@...> wrote:



According to this article Prussia (German: Preußen) existed from 1525-1947.


According to this passage Prussia officially ceased to exist on February 25th, 1947.


For the history of Germany you might refer to this passage.


For what it's worth I have so far entered all my German places using their respective German names followed by the name of the so-called Landkreis in German, then the Bundesland (equivalent of a US State) in German and finally Germany in English as the country. But that's just my personal preference at this time. Fortunately the genealogy software I'm using is pretty flexible, so I can change things as and when I consider that necessary. I opted to write all the names of the countries in English to make it easier to converse and exchange data with other, whereas I opted to write all place designations (such as province, county, district, state and what have you) in the local language, i.e. Dutch, English, French, German, unless that would render the place designation illegible for me.


I hope this helps, somewhat.


Enjoy what's left of your weekend, regards, Jk.


From: [] On Behalf Of Pam Gosling
Sent: Friday, 31 July, 2020 01:55
Subject: [German-genealogy-ENG] question about proper Geographical designations


Hello, I have a multi part question regarding “proper” designation of earlier Germany/Prussian areas:


If I’m writing for example a birth location for a date between 1871-1932, should I write “Prussia” or “Germany”, or does it really matter?

If I’m noting a specific town, e.g. “Neuenberg, Soldin, Landsberg/Warthe, Brandenburg” do I need to list all four location designations, or should I only list some of them?

Should I put “both” Brandenburg and Prussia in a listing, or is Brandenburg sufficient since “Prussia” included other areas besides Brandenburg?

Am I correct in assuming that the same rule would apply for “Pommerania”, or “Saxony” if those were the locations in question?

Regarding Saxony/Thuringia, is it more appropriate to use “Thuringia” instead of Saxony, if the event in question occurred after the date of change of designation of territory? In other words, should the designation always match the appropriate date of the event? Or is it necessary to be this particular?

Is there a general rule about whether to use the “original” German names, or current Polish names, for those areas of Eastern Germany that are not part of Poland. I have put the current Polish as a side note in my tree so far, and left the German name as the primary location in the address bar.


I only ask for the purposes of sending appropriate tree information to native Germans, to avoid offense or to cause confusion among non-Germans, because they might not understand the differences in geographical locations.


Thanks so much for any help! I so appreciate this opportunity to participate in this group!


Sincerely, Pam in California

Heidi Hennig Arno

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