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.

Colony Group

Different sources use different names for groups of colonies or enclaves. Sources were compared to determine a standard that would be both descriptive and still as granular as possible given the limitations of how things can be presented in online maps. Among the sources consulted for grouping colonies are the following: Karl Stumpp's The Emigration from Germany to Russia in the Years 1763 to 1862; Adam Giesinger's From Catherine to Khrushchev: The Story of Russia's Germans; Joseph Height's Homesteaders on the Steppe and Paradise on the Steppe; Ulrich Mertens' German-Russian Handbook. A Reference Book for Russian German and German Russian Names and Listings of Former German Settlement Areas; and William Schroeder and Helmut T. Heubert's Mennonite Historical Atlas.

Ancestral 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 various languages: German, Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, 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, 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.

District, Parish and/or City of Authority

District information is included to help further narrow down the colony you're trying to find. Again, because so many colonies were named the same, the district becomes important. The districts changed, so what is recorded is the earliest known. Later church records will indicate the current district at the time the document was created. Church parishes are important to further your research and are used to find baptism, marriage and burial records of the colonists who lived there. 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). The city of authority is sometimes included if districts or parishes are not available. This can be helpful when figuring out which local archive to contact for more information.

Area, Governorate, Oblast

The geographic area in which the colonies were located is listed along with the Russian governorate or guberniya, the administrative division. Very early colonies in Imperial Russia may have a viceroyalty or a province listed, and those colonies that were founded in the Soviet era may have an oblast.

Country at the Time of Founding (assumed*)

This field notes the country in which the German colony was founded at the time it was founded or settled by Germans. It can also be the year that Germans moved into an existing village. It is based on the recorded founding or settlement year for the colony. 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.

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 change.

Current Name

This is the current name along with its oblast or voivodeship and country. For colonies that are defunct – no longer exist – it is noted along with the name that a was formerly known as. It's not necessarily the last known name, but at least one of its former names. 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.

Year Founded or Settled by Germans

This field is the recorded founding or settlement year for the German colony, or in some cases, the year Germans moved into an existing city. Sometimes settlement occurred prior to official founding. The earliest year is noted in the data when multiple years or a range of years is given in a source. 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."

Mother/Daughter/Chutor Colony

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. The concept of Mother/Daughter/Chutor is applicable only to German colonies in Russia. They do not apply to colonies in Bukovina or Galizien.

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.

Plat Map

This field provides both external and internal links to image files or articles that include plat maps. Plat maps show actual or proposed features of a village, such as streets, houses, churches, cemeteries, schools, orchards, marketplace, etc. Some include family names on lots as they were remembered by residents of the village at some point in time.


This field contains external link to information about the cemetery in or near the colony. Sometimes the link includes lists of names, photos of headstones and/or coordinates where the cemetery is 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 to validate the results and to further the research in new and different directions. The sources listed with each colony are colony specific and support the data presented. The full list of sources used in the project as a whole are listed on the Sources page, which should be consulted to gain a good appreciation of the scope of previous research and publications that were used on this project.