Originally created to help genealogists trace their Jewish ancestors through Europe, Where Once We Walked: A Guide to the Jewish Communities Destroyed in the Holocaust has become a primary resource for finding original town and community names across Europe for all types of researchers, including non-Jewish genealogists. Perhaps no other area in the world has seen as much political change and border movements as Central and Eastern Europe. Germany didn’t exist until the late 1800s, Czechoslovakia didn’t exist until the end of World War I, lost territory to Russia at the end of World War II, and was dissolved into two different countries by 1993. One example shows the “original” town of Lemberg, Austria changing names three time (four names) in just 85 years; Lember, Austria became Lwów, Poland then L’vov, USSR and finally L’viv, Ukraine. Even experienced geographers would have trouble keeping up with these names changes; especially when examining towns by the thousands.
Where Once We Walked covers nearly 24,000 towns in Central and Eastern Europe. Each town is pinpointed by exact latitude and longitude to avoid any confusion with other locations. Towns are listed alphabetically, with contemporary town names spelled as defined by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names. There are also 17,500 former Yiddish names given with various spellings an synonyms. Entries include, as available, the town name, country, alternate names (synonyms), distance/direction, latitude/longitude, Jewish population, source codes, and references.
About the Revised Edition. The original publication was in 1991. This edition was published in 2002, after a number of political boundary changes in Eastern Europe. The current edition offered many improvements over the original, including:
- 4,500 more synonyms. An additional 4,500 synonyms for towns (new total: 17,500) were made possible due to the discovery of two remarkable name-change gazetteers that gave the pre-World War I names for towns that were once part of the German and Austro-Hungarian Empires.
- Hundreds of towns located. Hundreds of towns that could not be located in Where Once We Walked have now been located and their exact latitudes/longitudes have been added.
- 800 towns added. The original version of Where Once We Walked was rather rigorous, containing nearly 23,000 towns. This new work includes an additional 800 towns.
- Town names changed to contemporary names. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, thousands of town names in Belarus and Ukraine have been changed from their Russian names to Byelorussian and Ukrainian names. For example, Grodno, Byelorussian SSR, is now Hrodna, Belarus. Kamenets Podolskiy, Ukrainian SSR, is now Kam”yanets’-Podil’s’kyy, Ukraine. Where Once We Walked: Revised Edition reflects the town names as they exist today, and the Russian names for these towns are now identified as synonyms.
- Expanded and improved soundex. The Daitch-Mokotoff soundex index has been expanded and improved. Certain Polish and Romanian letters that do not sound identical to their English equivalents have been double coded.
- Diacritic marks added to town names. The current names of all towns include their correct diacritic marks.
- Integration of Where Once We Walked Companion. There had previously been published another book titled Where Once We Walked Companion, that made it possible to determine which towns listed in Where Once We Walked were in the vicinity of a particular shtetl. An updated version of this entire work was incorporated into Where Once We Walked: Revised Edition.
- Eleven new sources of information about the Jews of Central and Eastern Europe have been added including all the towns identified in Miriam Weiner’s books Jewish Roots in Poland and Jewish Roots in Ukraine and Moldova, the new Pinkas Hakehillot (Encyclopedia of Towns), Finding Your Jewish Roots in Galicia, and others.
- Many original sources have been updated, such as the yizkor book collection, the holdings of the LDS (Mormon) Family History Library, and those of the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People.
- Contemporary countries identified. Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia no longer exist. Where Once We Walked: Revised Edition identifies the country in which the towns of these former political entities are now located.
- Latitude/longitudes corrected. The latest data available from the United States government Board on Geographic Names has slightly different latitude/longitudes for many of the towns. Where Once We Walked: Revised Edition reflects these changes. Where Once We Walked was based on a 1966 version of BGN data. Perhaps due to better mapping capability through the use of satellites, BGN has changed the exact location of many towns throughout the world.
- Regional names included. Sometimes what is perceived as the name of a town, is, in fact, the name of a region. Included are 45 regional names such as Banat, Bavaria, Bessarabia, Bohemia, Dalmatia, Franconia, Galicia, Gubernia, Kurland, Lietuva, Moravia, Podolia, Pommerania, Prussia, Transylvania, Volyn, and Westphalia to name a few.
From First Edition
Introduction to the Revised Edition
Introduction to the First Edition
How to Use This Gazetteer
Section 1: Listing of Towns
Alternate Names (Synonyms)
Section 2: Finding Nearby Towns
Section 3: Listing of Town Names by the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex System
What to Do If You Cannot Find Your Town Listed
Town May Not Be Listed
Library of Congress
No, Your Family Did Not Come from “Guberniya”
Town Name, Latitude/Longitude
How This Book Was Compiled
Identifying Towns and Their Locations
Synonyms or Variant Names
Atlases, Gazetteers, Maps and Other Sources: A Select Bibliography
Listing of Towns
Index to Nearby Towns
How to Use this Section
Listing of Town Names Using the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex System
Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex Coding Chart
Get a copy of Where Once We Walked: A Guide to the Jewish Communities Destroyed in the Holocaust from Family Roots Publishing; Price: $83.30.