Meyers Gazetteer is the your one-stop destination for placing old Pomeranian cities and villages on a Google Map. It overlays old maps on top of the Google Map, pinpoints church districts and civil registration offices, and is complete with important information from the Meyers Orts- und Verkehrs-lexikon des deutschen Reichs.

If you are looking for an alternative resource with topographical maps from the early 1900s, please see the Maps Archive of Western Poland (Archiwum Map Zachodniej Polski).

Meyers Gazetteer is the most comprehensive searchable database of all Pomeranian places. According to their website:
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 advantage of this website over all others is its ability to include overlays of old German maps over Google Maps. One can search for a place and see the roads, buildings, and settlements as they once were. Meyers Gazetteer also lists all known information about belonging church parishes, civil registry offices, administrative districts, etc.

Kartenmeister An excellent source for finding names of places in German and Polish, and variations of the place names over time. GPS coordinates are given for each location in addition to civil registry offices, parishes, population information, and links to Google Maps.

Mapster This database allows users to search for maps in Pomerania. While it is a little difficult to navigate, it may prove useful for people looking for city (Stadt) plans. This is an extremely useful resource. Users may have to type in the Polish spelling of the city name, however.

Koszalin Archives Community Maps is a comprehensive mapping utility that shows plots of land, addresses, public works, and more. This is the perfect resource to view modern-day city plans within Koszalin’s administrative area. The site is in Polish, but it is not difficult to figure out.

GeoPortOst is a tool that provides access to more than 3,000 maps of Eastern and Southeastern Europe. The focus of the collection is on hidden thematic maps of the history, ethnography and economic and social conditions of the region. In addition, GeoPortOst stores old maps and maps from the 16th to 19th centuries to eastern Europe. GeoPortOst synthesizes the maps with their geodata and their source context into a system for historical spatial information.

The Georeferenzierung feature appears to allow for overlaying maps for referencing points and locations.

Listings from the PTG

Border Changes

The map below is one of the best to gain an understanding of places in relation to the entire German Empire. Click to zoom in. Please be patient while the map loads. It is a large file.

Administrative Map of the German Empire as of January 1st, 1900 by Maximilian Dörrbecker

From a historical perspective, it is important to remember that borders changed frequently. Each Kreis gained land or lost some of its territories throughout history. In some cases, a Kreis was dissolved into several other Kreise as was the case with Kreis Fürstenthum. Other times, territories were annexed or joined such as with Kolberg-Körlin, Belgard-Schivelbein, and Franzburg-Barth.  With the addition of former Ost-Brandenburg territories from Neumark, the southern part of Pomerania gained land near Arnswalde and the Kreise in the surrounding area.

Wars also allowed other countries to lay claim on Pomeranian territories. Parts of Pomerania were under Swedish jurisdiction while others were directly influenced by Prussian power or under the control of Brandenburg. To fully understand a region, one must research a city based upon its former holders. This is especially true when researching former Neumark territory. Pomerania was devastated by the Thirty Years’ War. The Seven Years’ War also raged throughout parts of Poland, affecting Silesia as well. Veterans of war can be found in or near garrison cities long after war; an example of this can be found in the Belgard church book concerning the deaths several former military members long after they had fought.

Garrisons and Migration

To understand patterns of migration due to war, it can also be helpful to know where garrisons were stationed. You can read more about garrisons and the canton system at Pommerscher Greif e.V.’s page on the organization of the Prussian army. (While the website is in German, a translation tool is provided in the sidebar.) One might also be interested in reading about the history of the Prussian army in regards to the time frame for mandatory conscription, enlistment, drafting, selection of soldiers in the canton, and earlier times when rulers depended upon hired mercenaries to wage war.

It is also important to understand that any peasant, serf, or tenant farmer was not permitted to leave his home city without permission from the ruling nobles and kings. To this effect, after the Thirty Years’ War, families tended to stay relatively close, sometimes never leaving their birth place. It wasn’t until the peasants were freed in the early 1800s in connection with the Napoleonic Wars that subservient populations were allowed to move elsewhere. This can be best demonstrated through older church books that date back to the 1700s. For example, families mentioned in the Lupow church book of Kreis Stolp can be observed living in the same city their entire lives in the 1700s. After the peasants gained more freedom, descendants from the same families spread to other places like Lauenburg, Danziger Höhe, Pumlow in Belgard, Stolp Stadt, Schlawe, Berlin, and other areas in Brandenburg.

A list of documents related to these regiments can be found at the Prussian Secret State Archives (Geheimes Staatsarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz).