This project started with a list of just over 100 ancestral names, their coordinates and their current names. As the project progressed, it became clear that more data points were needed to help researchers find the correct place. Many colonies had the same names but were in different locations. Collection of data was expanded to include the information described below. Not every piece of data was available for every colony, but since this project is both in progress and a living document, data points will be added as they are discovered or otherwise become available through continued research.

It's important to note that the data collected and presented on the maps records each colony at two points in time:

1) The point of origin for the colony when it was founded/settled  
2) Where it is today.

There is a great deal of history between those two points, and somewhere in between them is when your ancestors called the colony home. As researchers, you will need to fill in the blanks as it relates to your particular research, genealogical or otherwise.

The following are descriptions of the data on the maps in the order they appear.

Ancestral Place Name

The name of the German colony as it was known by its German inhabitants and as it appears on the source maps.

Other Names and Spellings

Nearly all of the German colonies were known by several names in different languages: German, Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, Romanian, etc. The earliest colonies were often given just numbers, and the colonists named the village for its eldest member. But those early colonies also had an official Russian name, which was decreed. Over time and through wars, other names may have been attributed to the colonies. The spellings of these varied depending on which language they were recorded. Listed in this field are other names the colony was known by, including any nicknames that have been supplied by descendants of the people who lived there.

Latitude, Longitude

These are the colony location coordinates calculated from historical maps. This the most important piece of data because place names may change, but the coordinates will not.

German Origins

There are many projects in motion to trace the German colonists back to their Germanic ancestral villages. As this information becomes available, it is added to the map. Sometimes the origins are described using the historical territory/kreis/state, and other times modern names are used. It is recorded as the original source has it with any comments or modernization noted in brackets.

Earliest known year of German habitation

The German colonists who founded Mother and Daughter colonies were there from the beginning. But as time progressed, Germans in Russia were known to live in non-German villages and cities as a minority ethnic population. The year provided here is the earliest documented year when Germans were known to have lived in a place.

Year Founded or Settled

This is the year the place was founded, settled, or first mentioned in historical documents. The year is used to determine the country the colony was in at the time it was founded. If no date was found, the year founded is recorded as unknown.

Type of Settlement

Mother colonies were founded by immigrants directly from Germanic states. Daughter colonies were founded by sons of Mother colonies when land became scarce in a Mother colony and the Russian government opened up land elsewhere. Chutors or khutors were smaller homesteads or summer farms that sometimes grew into full colonies. Not every chutor was recorded by the Russian government, particularly in later years, but many were. Russian cities and villages are noted, and sometimes non-German is used to describe the type of settlement when it's not clear exactly what type of settlement it was.

Religions (primary*)

This lists the known religions in the colony. If were more than one religion in a colony and it is know which had a larger population, it is noted with an asterisk (*). Colonists were assigned to settlements based on their religion confessions. Some villages supported populations of different religions either close to the beginning of settlement or later on as the colony grew. Although Mennonites and Hutterites are listed separately, all other Protestant denominations are included in the larger category, including Reformed, Seventh-Day Adventists, Baptists, etc. These are the primary religion or religions for a settlement: Catholic, Hutterite, Jewish, Mennonite, Protestant.

Historical enclave/colony, district, and/or parishes

Groups of German colonies are described as enclaves, defined as "a distinct territorial, cultural or social unit enclosed within or as if within a foreign territory." Remember that Catherine invited foreigners to her empire, not just Germans. German enclaves were generally either Catholic or Protestant, or a mix of both, sometimes with other religions, too. The point of the enclave was that it was German in ethnicity, language and culture. German Mennonites settled in named colonies with several settlements with the colony. 

The historical district or uyezd is simply a curiosity of mine. It's sometimes mistaken for the German enclave, but each province or governorate in Russia was divided further administratively and had a city of authority for the district. This information is probably of no use to genealogists, but every attempt is made to record the historical district anyway.

What is important to genealogists are church parishes to further your research and are used to find baptism, marriage and burial records of the colonists who lived there. In areas with colonies, parishes split off over time. When more than one parish is given, the oldest is given first. Many colonies supported more than one religious confession, so when available, all parishes are listed along with the confession in parenthesis: C (Catholic), H (Hutterite), M (Mennonite), P (Protestant), RC (Roman Catholic - this is used only in Galizien where there were both Greek and Roman Catholic parishes).

Historical region, governorate, or province

The province (also translated to governorate or guberniya) is listed here. Enclaves often crossed provinces, and provinces are often listed in EWZ records. Very early colonies in Imperial Russia may have a viceroyalty listed, and those colonies that were founded in the Soviet era may have an oblast or an okrug.

Historical empire, kingdom, or country at time of founding (*assumed if founding year unknown)

This field notes the country in which the was founded at the time it was founded, whether it be by Germans or not. It is based on the recorded founding year for the place. If no year was recorded but some evidence points to a particular country, that county is assumed and is noted with an asterisk (*). If there is no or insufficient evidence, the country is recorded as "unknown" until it can be determined with supporting sources.

Current Place Name

This is the current name along with its oblast or voivodeship and country. For colonies that are defunct and no longer exist, it is noted as such. Defunct colonies may have been destroyed by local or military conflicts, abandoned or the residents resettled elsewhere. Current names have changed since the inception of this project and will likely change again. Every effort is made to keep them up to date.

Current Country

This lists the country in which the colony is currently located.


These are notes about the colony, which may include some of the following information: where the colonists originated prior to settlement; conflicting sources and what decisions were made to resolve them; where the coordinates came from if not measured from a historical map; if it was a native city into which German colonists were integrated, etc.


It's important in any kind of research to cite sources so that future researchers can retrace the steps, validate the results, and to take the existing data into new and different directions. The sources listed with each colony are colony specific and support the data presented. The full list of sources cited on the map and those used for consultation but may not be cited are listed on the Sources page.

Last Update

This is the date the data for a place was updated in some way. The format is YYYYMMDD.