In the spring of 2007, Gesher Galicia (GG) initiated the first phase of a long-term project to obtain cadastral maps and landowner records from the Central State Historical Archives in Lviv, Ukraine. The project has continued to the present day, with maps and records being acquired from the Ternopil Oblast Archives starting in 2010, the Krakow Archives in 2011, and in 2013 expanding to the Przemysl branch of the Polish State Archives and other regional archives in Poland that have maps and records for Galician towns.
As Galician researchers accumulate records containing house and parcel numbers, their interest in cadastral maps has also grown. As described by Brian J. Lenius, author of Galician Gazetteer:
“Three distinct property land surveys were conducted for all of Galicia during the Austrian period of the 18th and 19th centuries. These consisted of detailed records showing the size of land parcels, type of land, crops grown and more. The Austrian Stable Cadastral Survey of the 1830s to 1860s consisted of records and extremely detailed maps showing the smallest parcels of land, individual yards, houses, barns, roads, field plots, synagogues and even large trees. At least three versions of these maps were created at the time including a field sketch, a preliminary drafted version and the Cadastral Map in full color. At least one or more versions of these maps still exist for most villages.”
- To create a searchable online inventory for the landowner records and maps for the 6,300 individual towns in Galicia, a province of the former Austrian Empire.
- To photocopy and/or digitally photograph cadastral maps bridging a span of time periods.
- To photocopy, photograph, or on-site index the landowner records as companion pieces to the maps.
- To index the data contained in all of these records and make it available as a free online searchable database for genealogists on our “All Galicia Database.”
- To post images of cadastral maps online and overlay them with present-day images, using Google Earth and Google Mapping technology, to identify and label the homes and land plots of our Galician ancestors.
Quick Links to recent progress:
- Our inventory can be found here.
- The indexes, now searchable, can be found on the All Galicia Database.
- The completed maps can be found in our Map Room.
The Value of Cadastral Maps and Landowner Records to Genealogists:
Cadastral land records and property maps are an excellent source of family history information with endless possibilities for researchers. The combination of maps and records provides exact locations in a shtetl where each family lived. It can tell the story of who their neighbors were.
Cadastral maps show where each family lived relative to the synagogue, cemetery, schools, Market Square (Markt or Rynek) and other community establishments. It provides an actual roadmap of where one’s relatives might have toiled in the fields, sold wares at the market square, washed clothes or frolicked in the rivers, or worked in town.
Land records can provide the size and/or values (for taxes) of properties that an individual owned, adding useful information to the history of a family. Some land record books were used for a period of years and when land parcels were sold, the name of the original landowner and his/her house number were stroked out (but still legible) and the new owner’s information written, providing information about a person’s dealings. Sometimes these are family members, such as sons, inheriting property from a parent or a widow taking over for her deceased husband. Researchers from the same shtetl – whose families might have known each other – can today discover that their ancestor purchased property from a family friend. The names of women, often missing from records are often present here.
The indexing of the landowner records will provide an easily searchable snapshot of where our ancestors once lived and the type of property they owned during the years the land surveys were taken.
Town Example: Portrait of Bukaczowce Over Five Years
Using maps — which document a population over several years — you can chart population movement in a shtetl and discern patterns of Jewish settlement over time. Here we can follow the evolution of the town of Bukaczowce/Bukachivtsi (now in Ukraine) during the five years between the creation of these two maps:
When your grandfather went to the cheder or synagogue he would likely have walked along a particular route that can often be determined from the map. Your grandmother might have walked down to the river or the mill. With the maps and records we not only know where they lived, but also whose houses they would have passed and therefore potentially who they might have waved to, or greeted regularly, along the way. Maps have the potential to make shtetl life truly come alive for researchers.
House numbers found on vital records show where a person lived and these numbers correlate to the house numbers found in landowner records, enabling a linkage to be made between the physical locations of families in the shtetl and the genealogical data found in metrical records.
Both maps and records are especially valuable when other genealogical (metrical) records are not available or cover only partial years. In some cases, these may be the only documented evidence of a family living in a town, which is another reason why the acquisition of land records is so important.
In summary, the land records and maps provide a window into the history of the community as a whole and provide new vistas for Jewish genealogical research.
Project History & Ongoing Research
Gesher Galicia initiated the Gesher Galicia Cadastral Map and Landowner Records Project in 2007, long before there was great interest in map research. We began working with Galician research expert, and former FEEFHS vice-president, Brian J. Lenius, author of the “Genealogical Gazetteer of Galicia.” Over the past four years, the project has added a variety of local researchers and foreign archivists, including Alexander and Natalie Dunai, working together to acquire records from regional archives in Ukraine and Poland as well as inventorying, indexing, and documenting the information contained in them. In November 2010, while in Krakow, Pamela Weisberger obtained scans of cadastral maps for Krakow and Kazimierz (1848, 1900) and Podgorze (1847). The list will continue to grow.
Scope of the Project
There were 6300 communities (cities, towns, villages) in 1914 Galicia, not including smaller places like hamlets, groups of houses, manorial farms etc. Today 3066 of these communities are in Ukraine. Approximately 75 – 80 percent of these communities had Jewish residents, and in many cases they were sizeable populations. Most of the town maps in the Lviv and Ternopil archives are now in Ukraine, but there are a few maps for towns now in Poland; in one case we were successful in obtaining a cadastral map for the Polish town of Nienadowa (Nenadova) in Lviv. Polish towns that are close to the Ukrainian border may have had some of their maps and records retained by the Lviv archive. Thus far, our project has only been able to search for and inventory 100 of these communities, and obtain records for about 70 communities, but Gesher Galicia has been inundated with requests from genealogical researchers as well as Eastern European study groups and students involved in university projects. Our goal is to acquire a sampling of maps and records for as many Galician communities as we can over the next years, and to continue on-site indexing of records where photography is difficult.
What Genealogists Can Learn
By matching the information in the land record books to the maps – along with comparing the maps to house numbers on vital records – you can see exactly where in town your ancestors once lived and draw conclusions about possible relatives, as many houses were handed down through generations and marriage.
The Gesher Galicia Map Room
The Gesher Galicia Map Room is a spin-off of the Gesher Galicia Cadastral Map and Land Owner Records Project, The project inventory is large, a portion of which contains maps, which are useful to historians and genealogists studying Galicia. Many of these historic maps are truly beautiful. Digital images of maps in the inventory are being acquired in archives with collections covering the historic region of Galicia, in modern Ukraine, Poland, Germany, and Austria.
Historic maps were often produced on multiple sheets; to display the maps here, typically the individual sheets are digitally stitched together and then tiled to simplify viewing in a web browser. The maps are grouped by scale (regional or town) plus a category of ‘special’ maps. Maps are added here as new images are scanned or photographed in the archive, then collected and stitched. This page contains many town maps along with province and regional maps, Holocaust and ghetto maps and specialty maps and is growing weekly. Jay Osborn coordinates the stitching and uploading of maps to this web page.
House Numbers Projects
Some GG members have begun “house number projects” to collect vital record documents from people who have acquired them through Jewish Records Indexing – Poland or the LDS Family History Library films. From documents that show a house number, it is possible to create a table that is house-number specific. One can then trace a single house’s inhabitants over time. Often families “handed down” their house to other relatives, or one family married “into” a house. Ann Harris documented this type of project for Zborów/Zboriv (Ukraine) in an article in the November 2006 issue of The Galitzianer.
When requesting that a town be added to our project, keep in mind that many Galician towns have similar names, so the more specific you are, the easier it will be to determine whether this town can be added to our list.
If your questions about the Cadastral Map & Landowner Records Project have not been answered on this page, please email Pamela Weisberger at: firstname.lastname@example.org. This project is just one part of GARP, The Galician Archival Records Project. Please consult the GARP page for instructions on how to determine if your town is already included and, if not, how to start a town project. We urge you to first read up on each project on its dedicated page, which provide additional information and record examples.