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See Catsakis, Lica. '"Chapter 6 LOCATING PLACES IN GREECE", Family Research in Greece. Phoenix, Arizona: 2010.
What is a gazetteer?
A gazetteer is a dictionary of place names. Gazetteers describe towns and villages, parishes and counties, rivers and mountains, sizes of population, and other geographical features. They usually include only the names of places that existed at the time the gazetteer was published. The place names are generally listed in alphabetical order, as in a dictionary.
Gazetteers may provide additional information about towns, such as schools, districts, local courts with their locations and hierarchy, tax offices, government cashier’s offices, diocese, place name changes since the last gazetteer, and so on. You can use a gazetteer to locate the places where your family lived and to determine the civil and church jurisdictions over those places. For example, the town of Marmara is in the municipality Arhilohou, district Parou, county Kykladon, and diocese Paronaxias.
There may be many places in Greece with the same or similar names. You will need to use a gazetteer to identify the specific town where your ancestor lived, the county it was in, and the jurisdictions where records were kept. Gazetteers are also helpful for determining county jurisdictions as used in the FamilySearch Catalog.
For genealogical purposes, the best English language gazetteer lists all the counties (Nomos), districts (Eparhia), diocese (Mitropolis), and most of the municipalities (Dimos/Koinotis) of Greece:
- Catsakis, Lica H. (Bywater). Greek Gazetteer. Volume 1. Salt Lake City, Utah, USA: Lica H. Catsakis (Bywater), 1997. (FHL book 949.5 E5c). This book is primarily based on the 1974 gazetteer listed under “Finding Place Names in the FamilySearch Catalog” below. This is the first volume of a three volume set. The second volume will include all locality names, listing the municipality, district, county, and diocese they belong to. It will include information about jurisdictional changes made in 1999 when all the communities were absorbed into municipalities. The third volume will include locality name changes.
U.S. Board on Geographic Names
Another gazetteer in English is:
- Greece: Official Standard Names Approved by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names. Washington DC, USA: U.S. Printing Office, 1960. (FHL book 949.5 E5u; film 0873795, item 1; fiche 6053510) This gazetteer lists alphabetically the name of all the localities and geographic features in Greece, transliterated to the English alphabet. Nonstandard names and names that have been changed are followed by a “see” reference to the standard spelling. This book does not list the county or district a particular location belongs to, but it does give geographic coordinates and a five-digit code that indicates the region where it is located.
Changes in Place Names
Place names have changed over time. Some place names based on other languages such as Turkish have been changed to Greek names. Also, some older forms of town names have been modernized as recently as the 1980s. For example, the city of Athens was spelled Athinai formerly and is now spelled Athina. In early records the place names may be written differently from today. For some research purposes, such as correspondence, it is useful to learn modern jurisdictions for the area where your ancestors lived. This may also be helpful when finding the ancestral town on modern maps.
Some gazetteers list place names in the older form. The following gazetteer includes cross references for towns that have had name changes, and it lists localities in Greece as they were in 1937:
- Stefanou, Grigorios; Plires Geografikon Lexikon tis Ellados - Complete Gazetteer of Greece. Athens, Greece: Vivliopoleion Oikou Mich. Saliverou, 1937. (FHL film 1181601, item 4)
Information given in this gazetteer includes a description, the district, the county, and other data, including population statistics as of about 1935.
Words and abbreviations that you will generally find in the above gazetteers include the following:
Finding Place Names in the FamilySearch Catalog
Place names in the FamilySearch Catalog are listed under the modern names and current counties. Use the "Place" search found in the FamilySearch Catalog at www.FamilySearch.org. The computer will find places with that name.
Because of the many changes in place names, the Family History Library uses one gazetteer as the standard guide for listing places in the FamilySearch Catalog. Regardless of the names a place may have had at various times, all Greek places are listed in the FamilySearch Catalog by the name that appears in:
- Lexikon tōn Dēmōn, Koinotētōn kai Oikismōn tēs Hellados - Dictionary of Municipalities, Communities and Settlements of Greece. Athens, Greece: Ethniki Statistiki Ypiresia tis Ellados, 1974. (FHL book 949.5 E5e 1974; film 1184078, item 3) An introduction in English is found in the front of the Family History Library’s copy of this book. This gazetteer is available online when using a computer at a Family History Center: Click here.
To use this gazetteer, start with part II, which lists all localities (villages, towns, and cities) in alphabetical order. After each locality, the name of the municipality it belongs to will be listed followed by the district (eparhia), county (nomos), the altitude, and the population as of 1971. You can look up further information about the locality by looking at the municipality or community in part I.
The sources mentioned in this section are listed in the FamilySearch Catalog under:
GREECE - GAZETTEERS