On December 4, 1762, Catherine the Great issued a Manifesto inviting Western Europeans to settle in Russia. However, it was her second Manifesto of July 22, 1763, which offered transportation to Russia, religious and political autonomy, and land that incited many Western Europeans, mostly Germans, to migrate to Russia
The first wave of migration occurred in the Volga River region beginning in 1764. By the late 1760s some isolated settlements were already founded in South Russia. Hutterites first settled in Russia in 1770 and Mennonites began to settle in Russia by 1789. Settlements in the Bessarabian and Black Sea regions were being established in the early nineteenth century. In the mid-nineteenth century the areas of Volhynia, Crimea, and the Caucasus were being settled by Germans. Beginning in the late nineteenth century and continuing into the first decade of the 1900s, settlements were being founded by Germans in Siberia. Russia had a population of approximately 1.8 million Germans at the end of the nineteenth century. An excellent series of maps developed by Mitch Roll, "1700s & 1800s German-Russian Settlements" illustrates the locations of the German settlements.
There were approximately a thousand German villages in Russia prior to 1941 when the Soviet authorities issued a decree that resulted in a forced evacuation of the villages and the resettlement of the villagers to Siberia and the Asiatic Republics (e.g. Kazakhstan). The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) link found in the German-Russian Information portion of this site provides answers to many questions about the villagers and their settlements prior to and after this period.
AHSGR promotes and encourages the historical and genealogical study of all the village regions and all the villages. While some villages and regions have more focused research than others, that emphasis is the result of the interest and activity of the individuals working to learn about "their" village or region.
Some volunteers serve as Village Coordinators (VC) for individual villages to coordinate research for the village. There is still a need for additional Village Coordinators for the villages presently without leaders. Village Agreement and Statement of Purpose.
The villages listed under the Village Coordinators tab and the Village Inventory tab are not all-encompassing. The villages listed only represent those villages that presently have a Village Coordinator, have had a Village Coordinator in the past, or village-specific material has been submitted to the Village File. The Odessa Digital Library has published a collection of village lists that is a good supplemental resource for locating your ancestral village.
Village Coordinators (VCs) for the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia coordinate, aid, and assist those individuals attempting to bring families and villages together through village research. They are doing this work on a volunteer basis and spend many hours gathering and organizing information.
Each coordinator desires to communicate with all persons who share the same village heritage. This would include sharing of family group records, maps, individual and family histories, video and audio tapes of memories, trip experiences, and other village information. Coordinators oversee the Village Night as part of the annual convention. It is always a highlight to find tables with persons sharing the same village.
Some of the villages have printed books, articles, and other publications often appearing in the Journals. Some are creating GEDCOM format databases to be of help to families. Your input is needed.
While the coordinator lists have grown greatly, there are still many villages where there is no one to assist this great work.
Anyone desiring information on becoming a coordinator and overseeing the work of a village should contact:
Village Coordinator Chairpersons:
8031 S 2250th Street
South Weber, UT. 84405
2301 Canal Blvd.
Hays, KS 67601
Village Coordinator Liaison:
Overland Park KS 66224
Village Coordinator Annual Report Editor
AHSGR, 631 D Street, Lincoln, NE 68502-1199, firstname.lastname@example.org
The 4-character code following most Village Coordinators’ name is the Surname Exchange Number (SEN) assigned to each individual. The Surname Exchange is published annually by AHSGR and is an index of all surnames being researched by current members. When the SEN is followed by an "L" this indicates that the individual is a life member of AHSGR. Also, when notations such as "book," "database," or "newsletter" follow an individual’s name and address, this indicates that in addition to serving as a Village Coordinator, this person has produced or is producing other documentation.
If you write to a village coordinator and request information, be sure to include a self-addressed, stamped envelope and offer to pay for copies of information sent to you. Please remember that Village Coordinators are VOLUNTEERS and may not have time to respond to requests immediately, so please be patient and respectful of the hard work and effort these coordinators are doing. Many villages now have home pages that include the information they have been able to gather as well as links to helpful internet sites. Please see the Village Coordinator tab on the right for the current village website addresses.
The latitudes (N) and longitudes (E) given here were obtained from the gazetteer published by the U.S. Board on Standard Names and Map of the Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic of Germans on the Volga, by Alfred Eisfeld. Those marked with an * were not found in the gazetteer nor in Eisfeld’s publication. These are approximate locations taken from maps. These villages might no longer be in existence.
Village Coordinator Reports are submitted annually by the Village Coordinators describing research for the past year and future goals for the village.
The Village File is a useful resource for learning more about the German villages in Russia. The Village File is a collection of information on individual or specific villages and areas in which Germans settled, containing files organized by village and/or area. These files contain various pieces of information that have been gathered by AHSGR staff, members, village coordinators, and other individuals for a number of years.