Maps for Central Europe

This page details some of the maps I've used in my genealogy research. I organize the list according to what country the maps cover but if you research Central Europe you know that "country" is a fairly fluid concept so approach my organization with an open mind. War and politics are sloppy cartographers.

Jump to maps of:

Europe in the mid-1600s

Joan Blaeu's Atlas Maior was the most ambitious mapping effort of Europe for its time. The Germanic-language parts of Europe get the best coverage, but there are several maps of Russia, too, as well as one of Hungary. There's some surprises in there too, like the map of Iceland that includes a wonderful drawing of an erupting volcano. If nothing else, these maps are cool because they're old, plus they're a great excuse to brush up on your Latin.

The maps are online in several locations. The Wikipedia article on the map contains (at the very bottom of the page) links to several digitized versions.


The Austro-Hungarian Military Specialkarte

[Informacje po polsku]

Large, high quality maps exist for the latter years of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Specifically, there is a 1:75000 series (published 1877 - 1914) and a 1:200000 series (published 1910 - 1937). Each map in the series is about 53x43cm (21x17in). The title of this map series varies according to who catalogued it, but the title given on the 1:75000 legend I have is Specialkarte der k.u.k. österreichisch-ungarischen Monarchie im Mafsstabe 1:75000 der Natur. These maps were updated over time. For instance, my Genealogy Unlimited reprints (see below) were from a revision done in 1902 and look slightly different from the older copies I got from Stockholm's Krigsarkivet. The differences are not just aesthetic -- they appear to reflect real changes where villages added houses, for example. I think the entire empire was mapped, but not all collections have all maps.

Where to Find Them

Right here on one can find several high quality scans of the 1:75000 Specialkarte series.

The 1:200000 series seems easier to find but I find the better detail of the 1:75000 series more interesting. The 1:200000 series exists in color but I think the 1:75000 series was in black & white only. Below is a sample of a 300 dpi scan of a 4x2cm area (1.5x.75in) of a black & white 1877 edition of the 1:75000 series from Krigsarkivet in Stockholm. It gives you some appreciation of the extremely high level of detail in these maps. If anyone can tell me how they did this kind of cartography in 1877, I'd like to know.

Here is a sample of the map series Spezialkarte der Österreichisch-ungarischen Monarchie including Wolica and Zboiska

The entire(!) 1:200000 series is available for free online. The quality of the scans is quite good on the maps I've looked at.

The US Library of Congress has both series under call number G6380s75 .A8 and the title Spezial-Karte der österr, ung. Monarchie und des Occupations-Gebiete.

The Family History Library of the LDS has this series on microfiche. They note that they have an "imperfect" set; I am told that this means some maps are missing. They use the title Militär-Landesaufnahme und Spezialkarte der Österreichisch-ungarischen Monarchie.

The 1:75000 series also exists in the NY public library. A representative of the library says of the series, "It was published in Vienna over a period of years, 1877-1914 [by] the cartographic unit of the Military and Geographic Institute of the state. The set is in 776 sheets and comes with an index which can be consulted here in the Map Division." In a private email from the library I was told that "same size copies of the maps can be made at $5 each". This was still true when I visited the library in September of 2003. Their index is not one they've done themselves; it is from the original set.

Genealogy Unlimited sells both the 1:75000 and 1:200000 series. Currently (April 2002) they charge CAD$25 per black & white 1:75000 map plus shipping and handling. They charged me just CAD$8 to ship to Stockholm. I got great service from them and the maps were quite good. "Quite good" meaning not as good as the originals (and on thinner paper), but certainly good enough to see individual houses which is IMO the oustanding feature of this set of maps. In addition, they publish a legend for this series online, for free. I found it to be too small to read the symbols, however. You'd be better off using the legend available here on Usual disclaimer stuff: I don't work for Genealogy Unlimited or gain any benefit blah blah blah.

If you have the opportunity to get to Stockholm you're in luck, and not only because it is a beautiful city. The 1:200000 series is available (in color) in Kungliga Bilbioteket (the Royal Library). Better still, the 1:75000 series (a black & white printing) is available in Krigsarkivet (the Military Archive). You have several options for getting copies made; the Xerox copies they made for me were unsatisfactorily smudgy.

Another potential source is an address in Vienna according to a posting of the German-Bohemian mailing list FAQ. I haven't personally verified this mailing address and the newsgroup posting is from 1998 so the address might not be valid anymore.

Dziękuje bardzo to Wojtek Konstanty for the information in Polish below.

Polsce mapy z serii Specialkarte 1:75 000 sa dostepne w Bibliotece Jagiellonskiej w Krakowie (najlepiej pytac w budynku glównym) oraz Bibliotece Narodowej w Warszawie. Nalezy spodziewac sie ze uzyskane kopie beda odbitkami z map wydanych juz po pierwszej wojnie swiatowej a rózniacych sie od oryginalów zaznaczonymi nowymi granicami panstwowymi.

Mapy te sa osiagalne takze w sklepie internetowym - cena arkusza to okolo 15 zl. Firma ta dziala na rynku od 2-3 lat, jakosc oferowanych przez nia produktów nie jest znana.

Galizien Deutsche Settlement

The Galizien Deutsche settled in the Austro-Hungarian province of Galizien (Galicia). Rudolf Unterschütz's map details over one hundred(?) Galizien Deutsche towns and villages. Courtesy of R. Unterschütz and the Hilfscommittee.


Magocsi's Online Historical Atlas

Magocsi's atlas of Ukraine includes maps of geographic features and ethnolinguistic distribution as well as trade routes, population movements and historical borders in the Ukraine region starting as far back as the 7th century BC (!). All text in English; the table of contents is also in Rusyn.

Magocsi's Carpatho-Rusyn Settlement Map

This is a marvellous, high quality map by Paul Robert Magocsi entitled Carpatho-Rusyn Settlement at the Outset of the 20th Century. It is 104 x 78cm; the scale is 1:355000. In Magocsi's words, "The map depict[s] over 1,300 villages inhabited by Carpatho-Rusyns between the years 1900 and 1921, with comparative reference to the years 1881 and 1806". It covers in one continuous area the Rusyn homeland and includes an inset for the Vojvodina area. The map is superimposed over modern political borders. The text on the map (mostly the legend) is in both English and Rusyn. The back of the map is an index for all the towns on the front; the index accounts for some villages with multiple names as well (for example Zawadka Morochiws'ka / Morochownica).

Where to find it

I got mine along with the not-to-be-missed 32 page booklet Mapping Stateless Peoples: The East Slavs of the Carpathians for just $20 from the Carpatho-Rusyn Research Center. [Info current as of March 2002]

Roman Zakharii's Modern Road Maps

Roman Zakharii offers up modern Ukrainian road maps. Most place names use the Latin alphabet with major city names in Cyrillic. Roman has an interesting site; there's other stuff there to look at besides maps.


1994 Lemko Area Topographical Maps

These are detailed 1:100000 maps of the Lemko habitation area in SE Poland published by the Carthographic Division of the Polish Army, Warsaw 1994. The link above shows you a rough map divided up into a grid; some clicking in the grid is necessary to find the map you want. The pages are image-heavy but I haven't seen maps like this anywhere else.

Mapa Polski - 33.000 miejscowości

A clickable map of Poland which goes down to a resolution of 1:70000 although at that level there isn't much detail. Handy nevertheless. All the text is in Polish, but I was able to figure out the interface and I don't know anything more than "Żubrowka".

Modern Polish Topographical Maps

Topo maps are available at a scales as fine as 1:10000 from the Polish government although the only way to get them that I know of is to go to Rzeszów. You can't order them online, but you can see a sample as well as some other interesting maps (check out the ortofotomapa) at the all-Polish site Wojewódzki Ośrodek Dokumentacji Geodezyjnej i Kartograficznej w Rzesowie. You may also wish to check out the central cartographic bureau (all-Polish again). [Info current as of July 2002]

A sample of a Polish topo map showing Zboiksa
This is the same Zboiska as is potrayed in the Austro-Hungarian map above albeit 109 years later. If you look carefully you can spot similarities.

I purchased some of these topo maps in July 2002. The looked just like US topo maps that have accompanied me on so many kayaking expeditions, the quality was very good and the price can't be beat. Unfortunately they were still not enough to enable us to find the cemetery in Bełchówka. Interestingly enough, the map shown to the left came from a 1986 printing (i.e. Communist era) and is labelled "top secret".