Re: question about proper Geographical designations


G’day Pam


There are plenty of places around the world with the same name.  Chatham is a town in the county of Kent in England.  Chatham is also a town in the county of Kent in the Canadian province of Ontario (not to be confused with Ontario in California!).  I have relatives who were born, married or died in both Chathams, so it’s extremely important to distinguish between the two Chathams in my family tree.  There are also numerous places in Germany that have the same name.  So I’d recommend using the formula Town/Parish, County/State, Country in your family tree.


I also use the name that was pertinent at the time of the event.  I don’t use Germany (or Deutschland) before 1871 (nor do I use “Canada” before 1867 or “USA” before 1776) in my family tree.  Wikipedia has a useful potted history giving you a timeline for the growth of Brandenburg which should help you.

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David Armstrong



Western Australia


From: <> On Behalf Of Pam Gosling
Sent: Friday, 31 July 2020 7:55 AM
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

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