Abbreviations for Meyer's Lexicon

Deciphering Meyers Ortslexikon Entries
on Microfilm

1. In addition to microfilm #496,460 (A-L) or #496,461 (M-Z), have before you a the list of the abbreviations and a copy of the GOTHIC ALPHABET. A magnifying glass is also a help.

2. Towns are listed in alphabetical order, but when there is more than one town by the same name, they are numbered. If you are uncertain in which area of Germany the town you seek is located, you may need to copuy the first few phrases of the entry for each town, as far as the first or second semicolon. Within these phrases you will be able to pick out abbreviations for the region or state, as well as names of nearby towns. In the examples below, these pertinent clues are underlined. You can now locate each town on a detailed map. See ./towns.htm, and ./hesse.htm.



1) D., Bay., RB. Mfranken, Bkdo. Nuernberg ...

2) D. U. Lgem., Bay. AG Koessting, Bkdo. Straubing, P. Milbach, E. Altransberg

3) D u. Lgem. Bay., Obay., AG Friedberg, Bkdo. Augsburg

These three Eismannsbergs in the above example all happen to be in Bayern (Bay.) (Bavaria), one in the region of Mittelfranken (middle zone of the region of the Franks [Franconia]), another in Oberbayern (Upper Bavaria). Finding the larger towns/cities nearby, on the map, can help in locating the usually much smaller village you are seeking. You can also use Site #1 Option#1 and the Distance-Radius calculator which is found at ./towns.htm for this purpose.

3. Having found which town may be yours, the entry can be photocopied and the work continued at home. Now make three columns on a sheet of lined paper. In the left column on the first line, copy the first phrase or two as abbreviated, including ALL punctuation, up to a comma or semicolon. In the same way continue transliterating each phrase in its abbreviated form, on subsequent lines in the left column, to the end of the entry. (See enclosed table farther down) The films are often not sharp enough to clearly identify some of the Gothic letters; for example, the lower z may look like g, l and I may look alike, and k can be mistaken for f. Lower case h sports a tail, and y looks like an n with a tail.

4. You will need a very good, UNABRIDGED German-English Dictionary to find the meanings of words that will, for the most part, turn out to be the names of services and trades carried on in the town. Be aware of the German penchant or hooking several words together, even including more than one abbreviation. Not knowing the language, one may have difficulty determining where one word ends and the next one begins, but use of the dictionary can help solve this mystery. Several German-language dictionairies are online, as well.


Zuckerw. = Zucker + werk = sugar works or factory
Zementwfbr. = Zement + werke + fabrik = cement products or factory

While you may not be able to decipher all the abbreviations or words, the problem abbreviations may not be critical to your search at this point.

5. Knowing the order in which the various features of the entry are presented can be a help in decoding, since all the information for one town is printed in a single paragraph. Note this order:

a) name of town, its location --province and district; elevation and population,

b) governmental agencies and offices,

c) basic services: post office, telegraph, railroad stations or stops, and routes; availability of gas, water, and electricity, which many areas did not yet have when the lexicon was written in 1912; hospitals, banks, churches,

d) businesses, trades, industries, products manufactured,

e) tiny adjacent villages and large farms, their services and population.

6. The last step is to translate each entry into English, writing the definition in the last column, directly across from its German equivalent.

NEXT is an excerpt from *Meyers Ortslexikon*. It is the basis of the exercise illustrated in the table which follows after, showing how the elements of this entry can be organized. Each abbreviated word or phrase found in the excerpt has been copied.

Gunzenhausen, 1) BASt. (415m), l/d Altmuehl; Bay., RB. Mfranken, LG. Ansbach; 5278 E;

T,Pw: 22 km E Weissenburg, 17 km E Spalt, E: Treuchtlingen-Ansbach, Pleinfeld-Noerdlingen;

BA., AG., Bkdo. Ofoerst., StdA., SteuerA., ForstA., RentA., VermessA., EichA., BMedizinalA.;

2 ev., 1 kath. K., Syn.; Schloss; Real- gew. FortbildSch.; Theater; Krankenh., Badanst., Gas-

Elektr.-, Wasserwerk, Schlachth.; Spk., Bay.HdlBkFil., Bay.RotenBkAg., HandwKredGenoss.;

Kram-, Gefluegel-, Viehmaerkte; Getreide-, Holz-, Leder-, Weinhdl; Hopfenbau; Buersten-,

Fleisch- u. Wurstw-, Likoer-, Malz-, Masch.-, Schirm-,Seifen,Tonofen-, Zementwfbr.; Brau.,

Gaerbn., Gerbn., Mln.,Zinngiess. Sv.D.-- Dazu Ein. Fallhaus 19, Leonhardsruh 4, Lohmuehle 3,

Reutberg 7, Waltmuehle 6, Weinberg 8 E.


Meyers Abbrevation

German Translation (Deutsche Ubersetzung)

English Translation (Englische Uebersetzung)


Gunzenhausen, 1)BASt. 415m), l/d Altmuehl;
Gunzenhausen, 1) Bezirk Amt Stadt (415m), links der Altmuehl

Gunzenhausen, 1) District office city (415m elev.), left of Altmuehl River

Bay., RB. Mfranken Bavaria;
Bayern, Regierungs Bezirk, Mittel Franken
Administrative district, Middle Franconia

L.G. Ansbach;
Landsgericht Ansbach
Court of Ansbach

5278 E.;
5278 Einwohner
5278 residents

T, Pw:
Post office & telegraph

22 km E. Weissenburg
22 km Eisenbahn Weissenburg
22 km to trains station at Weissenburg

17 km E. Spalt,
17 km Eisenbahn Spalt
17 km to train station at Spalt

E: Treutlingen-Ansbach,
Eisenbahn: Treutlingen-Ansbach
Train: Treutlingen to Ansbach

Pleinfeld to Noerdlingen

BA., AG.,
Bezirksamt, Amtsgericht
District office, legal court

Bkdo. Ofoerst.,
Bezirkskommando, Ober Foerster
District military command, forester's station

StdA., SteuerA.,
Standesamt, Steueramt
Civil registry office, tax office

ForstA., RentA.,
Forstamt, Rentamt
Forestry office, accounting office

Vermessamt, Eichamt
Survey office, bureau of standards

Bezirk Medicinalamt
District medical office

2 ev., 1 kath. K.
2 evangelische, 1 katholische Kirchen
2 Evangelical (Lutheran), 1 Catholic churches

Syn.; Schloss;
Synagogue; Schloss
Synagogue; castle

Real- gew. Fortbild Sch.;
Real- gewerbte Fortbild Schule
Advanced trade school

Theater; Krankenh.,
Theater; Krankenhaus
Theater; hospital


Gas-, Elktr.-, Wasserwerk,
Gas, Elektricitaet, Wasserwerk
Gas, electricity & waterworks


Spk., Bay.HdlBkFil.,
Sparkasse, Bayerische Handelsbank filial
Savings bank, Bavarian Trade Bank branch

Bay. RotenbkAg.,
Bayrische Rotenbank, Aktiengesellschaft
Bavarian Roten Bank, joint-stock co.

Handwerker Kredit Genossenschaft
Tradesmen's Credit Association

Kram-, Gefluegel-, Viehmaerkte;
Kram, Gefluegel, Viehmaerkte
Small wares, poultry, livestock markets

Getreide-, Holz-, Leder-, Weinhdl;
Getreide, Holz, Leder, Weinhandel
Grain, wood, leather, & wine trade

Hopfenbau; Buersten-,
Hopfenbau; Buerstenwerk
Hop culture; brushes

Fleisch- u. Wurstw-,
Fleisch- und Wurstwerke
Meat and sausage works

Likoer-, Malz-, Masch.-,
Likoer, Malz, Maschinen
Liqueur, malt, machinery

Schirm-, Seifen, Tonofen-,
Schirm, Seifen, Tonofen
Umbrella, soap, kiln

Cement products factory

Bru., Faerbn., Gerbn.,
Brauerei, Faerben, Gerben
Brewery, paints, tannery

Mln., Zinngiess.
Muehlen, Zinngiesserei
Mills, pewter/tin foundry

civil servant allowance, category D

Dazu Ein. Fallhaus 19
Dazu Einoede Fallhaus 19
In addition, outlying farms at Fallhaus 19 (street address)

Weinberg 8 E
Weinberg 8 Einwohner
Weinberg 8 residents

You now have a word picture of your ancestral town, what services it provided, and where to find them if they are not available in that town. The most useful portions in the Meyers Orts listings are probably the following:

1) location of the town in state, province, duchy, county, etc.,

2) location of the civil registry office (Standesamt) and where it is located if it is not in that town,

3) the administrative district (Regierungs Bezirk) where government district records for various towns are kept, and
4) church denominations found in the town.

---From a draft by Brigitte Gastel Lloyd