FamilySearch Wiki:WikiProject German Renaming/Proposal

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Current naming practices for Germany yield long, cumbersome page titles and complicate searches. This is a proposal for renaming the German locality pages in order to improve the user experience.

A study of the German and English Wikipedia and the German GenWiki showed that each handles German locality names differently. It seems best not to adopt either system completely, but to design a naming system based on the unique needs of the FamilySearch Wiki.


The objectives of this project are to:

  1. Simplify the current locality structure
  2. Establish uniform locality page naming guidelines for the area covered by the former German Empire

Anticipated Benefits

  • Page titles will be clearer and searches made easier less confusing
  • Simplified locality names will work much better with the clickable maps that will soon be added to the country-, state-, and regional pages
  • Page naming guidelines will enable users to distinguish between localities with the same name and find an article about a particular town more easily,
  • Systematic naming practices will ensure that there is only one main page for each locality, with links from other cross-references to that page.

Background Information

Between 1871 and 1918 the German Empire covered the largest geographical area. The  FamilySearch Catalog for Germany is based on the jurisdictions listed in Meyers Orts- und Verkehrslexikon des Deutschen Reichs, ed. E. Utrecht, published in 1912. [ Click here  for information about Meyers Gazetteer.]

Proposed simplified hierarchy

German States 1871- 1920
This list is based on the 1871-1918 state boundaries within the German Empire, with the exception of Berlin and Thüringen, which were created as states in 1920.

  • Anhalt
  • Baden
  • Bayern (Bavaria)
  • Berlin
  • Braunschweig (Brunswick)
  • Bremen
  • Elsass-Lothringen (Alsace-Lorraine)
  • Hamburg
  • Hessen
  • Lippe
  • Lübeck
  • Mecklenburg-Schwerin
  • Mecklenburg-Strelitz
  • Oldenburg
  • Preußen (Preussen, Prussia)
  1. Brandenburg
  2. Hannover
  3. Hessen-Nassau
  4. Hohenzollern
  5. Ostpreußen (Ostpreussen, East Prussia)
  6. Pommern (Pomerania)
  7. Posen
  8. Rheinland (Rhineland)
  9. Provinz Sachsen (Province of Saxony)
  10. Schlesien (Silesia)
  11. Schleswig-Holstein
  12. Westfalen (Westphalia)
  13. Westpreußen (Westpreussen, West Prussia)
  • Sachsen (Saxony)
  • Schaumburg-Lippe
  • Thüringen (Thuringia)
  1. Reuss ältere Linie (Reuss Older Line)
  2. Reuss jüngere Linie (Reuss Younger Line)
  3. Sachsen-Altenburg
  4. Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha
  5. Sachsen-Meiningen
  6. Sachsen Weimar-Eisenach
  7. Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt
  8. Schwarzburg-Sonderhausen
  • Waldeck
  • Württemberg

This proposed hierarchy reflects the following changes from the current version:

  • German place names are listed first in traditional spelling; non-traditional spellings and anglicized versions are listed after that, making it possible to locate the page using variant spellings
  • The list is alphabetized throughout
  • Berlin and Thüringen are listed as separate states, even though they were created in 1920.
  • The nobility area designation has been dropped.