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Notes on Guberniya District Maps

(c) Copyright 1999 Michael Steinore

Source: These maps were published in the 1899 edition of Vsia Rossiia, though they may also be available in other editions. Stanford, UCLA, Library of Congress and NYPL have the 1899 edition of Vsia Rossiia.

Completeness: More Guberniya maps are available, but I do not recall which ones.

Accuracy: The original maps are fairly accurate, though obviously not intended for precision plotting. I am reasonably confident of the uezd (district) outlines, but there is the possibility of mistakes. What I did was trace the dashed lines present on the original map (which according to the map legend are the district boundaries) then check town-district associations from other sources to ensure a level of accuracy.

Conversion process: The maps were magnified and blue lines traced over the dashed lines on the map. Then the maps were scanned and adjusted for contrast/brightness. The scanner had a 8.5 x 14" scanbed, so most maps are partially clipped. Finally, red dots and text were added. Transliterated names were based on a variety of sources.

What you see:

  • Guberniya district boundaries are drawn in blue. Following the outer perimeter of blue yields the Guberniya boundary. In some places a district will be partially clipped from view, but not importantly so: if your town is in the clipped area, it is possible to tell which district it was in.
  • The district town location within each district is shown with a red dot. The district town was usually the most prominent town in the district. The name of the district town is displayed in a larger, block letter Cyrillic font, and transliterated into English. The name of the district is always the name of the district town in that district.
  • Selected other towns have been transliterated into English. Transliterated town names appear either directly above or below the Cyrillic text, when possible.
  • Some of the surrounding Gubernii have been identified in English as well.

    Strategies for identifying the district your town lies within: If you want to identify the administrative district (uezd) to which a town belonged at the end of the 19th century, follow the steps below. Whatever you come up with, it would be a good idea to confirm that with an authoritative source such as Vsia Rossiia or existing research group postings.

  • First, look to see if the town name is shown on the map in Russian and possibly in English as well.
  • If it isn't, try to establish the relative position of your town to the towns shown on the map, using gazetteers, atlases, etc. The scale provided on each map will be useful for this. Up is always North.
  • If that doesn't work, obtain the latitude and longitude of your town and try to establish the relative position to the lat/long of a town that is shown on the map. Use the lat/long gridlines that cover each map. The distance between two vertical gridlines represents 1 degree (60 minutes) longitude; the same for the horizontal gridlines and latitude. As far as I can tell, there is no association between the gridlines and actual meridians. Unless you learn otherwise, use the gridlines as relative distance measures only.
  • There are other markers such as railroad lines, rivers, etc. that are present on the maps and noted in the legend. These could also be used to establish town positions. Consult your local Russian translator for help.
  • Once you've determined the position of the town, note which blue polygon it is within and note the name of the district town (red dot) within that blue shape. That is the name of the district your town was in.

    Caution: It is incorrect to assume that Guberniya boundaries, district boundaries, or district towns (and therefore district names) never changed throughout the 19th century.

    Guberniya Maps

    Note: Images can take up to 3 minutes to load at 28.8kb/sec. Legibility can be affected by monitor resolution, application type, and other variables. All maps are 8.5" x 14"

  • Grodno Guberniya map
  • Kiev Guberniya map
  • Minsk Guberniya map
  • Vitebsk Guberniya map
  • Volhynia Guberniya map