Data & Sources

The project focuses on geographic locations defined as populated places, towns, or cities by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names. This includes place names that still exist today or have vanished/been renamed over time. The latter are are especially indicated by specific place icons ( / ) in the TopoGIS web application (label Historic).

If available, historic dates provide temporal information on important communal events such as time of settlement, first post office, or time of renaming. The earliest date available is given as the (presumed) date of place (name) existence in the TopoGIS web application.
Although a specific date is given, the sources used here yield only ambiguous dates for 11 place names.

The dataset also covers names that have been repeatedly transferred within the United States (label Transfer).

Background information in the TopoGIS web application includes the name of federal states as well of minor civil divisions and entities (TWP = Township, PCT = Precinct, PO = Post Office) in abbreviated form.

The resulting dataset includes German(ic) place names that:

1. Were given by....

....persons that were born within the 1871 boundaries of the German Empire, Austro-Hungarian Empire, Switzerland, and Luxembourg or by their second-generation descendants.

....persons of German-Russian or Pennsylvania-German origin and their second-generation descendants.

Second-generation descendants are especially indicated in the results of the TopoGIS web application (label Second generation).

2. Had Been named after....

....a German or German-related place (such as a town or region in Europe) or person (such as a local first- or second-generation settler or a popular figure).

3. Represent....

....a direct reference to Germany, Austria, Switzerland, or Luxembourg (such as containing a German word or the expressions ‘German’, ‘Dutch’, or ‘Swiss’).


Place name gazetteers in conjunction with a variety of local, online, and scholarly resources provided extensive information for identification and critical reassessment. For a toponym to qualify, two reliable sources had to confirm its Germanic connection.

Reliable sources include printed publications (books, articles, and county histories) and websites of professional scholars and organizations as well as official national, state, and local institutions, such as universities and libraries, state or local historical societies, city or county administrations, churches, and local chambers of commerce. In addition, I used historic census manuscripts – accessed via the HeritageQuest database – to verify the nationality or birthplace of eponyms and local residents.

All reliable sources used are indicated for each place name in the results of the TopoGIS web application by state initials and numerical codes.

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