Searching places in Saxony with the Historical gazetteer of Saxony

Quick guide to the Historical gazetteer of Saxony (Historische Ortsverzeichnis von Sachsen)

The historical gazetteer is one of the most important tools for locating places in Saxony. Since its publication as an online version in 2008, it has also been available to a larger circle of users and, moreover, can be used at any location with an Internet connection. So also for the family researchers outside of Germany. However, knowledge of the German language is necessary to use the platform.

The historical gazetteer of Saxony includes about 6000 places and parts of places, which are provable as settlements since the Middle Ages on the territory of today's Free State of Saxony. In addition to the current place name and the geographical location of the place in Saxony, historical and current information is provided to each settlement.

Link to recorded lecture: How to find places in Saxony

Access to the webpage

You can access the digital gazetteer by entering the address  in the address bar of your Internet browser. Since the address bar is now also the search bar in the most common browsers (Firefox or Google Chrome), you can just enter "hov isgv" and the page will be displayed as the first search result. Now you have to click on this and you will be on the start page of the historical gazetteer.

The main elements of the Historical Gazetteer

Above the introduction text in the header of the start page you will find the search field for the location search directly next to the menu items "Project", "Locations" and "Help". Here you can enter the searched place name directly. You have to enter at least 3 characters to start a search for place names.

As soon as you have entered three characters, suggestions for possible places in the directory are listed. The list is divided into place names and older forms of place names.

The first three letters from the beginning of the place name are usually used in the search. (Example: "ter") Partially, strings in the word are probably also included. It should be noted that the search via the search field only considers the place names (mean current and older name forms).

For a complete search in all location information you have to use the "full text search".

I explain this function in my video "Content search in the digital gazetteer of Saxony".

Structure of the page content

The first thing that catches your eye is the place name highlighted in green with its geographical location and the political administrative area it belongs to. Directly above you will find an alphabetically sorted row of places or places with the same name. Places with the same name are distinguished by numbers in brackets. You can directly click on the displayed places and you will get to the corresponding content page.

On each content page you will find information about:

  • Constitution (legal status, division of the place, associated districts or incorporations ...)
  • Form of settlement and district (structure of the settlement and size of the area)
  • Population (number of different years)
  • Helpful links
  • Administrative affiliation (office, court office, county ...)
  • Landlordship (former landlord relationships)
  • Church organization (churches, places belonging to the parish with dates ...)
  • Place name spellings (historical place names and early mentions of place in historical documents)
  • Literature and links (references to photos, related archives and sources)

Below the information you can view the location of the place directly on a map.

Perhaps not all blocks are equally interesting for genealogical research. First let’s have a look at the most important information.

Place name forms or Place name spellings

If you are still unsure whether it is the place name you have found, then you will find here the various spellings in the history of the place with the associated year of naming. This can be helpful if you have found a place name in old documents, but the spelling differs from the current spelling of the place name.

Church organization

This information is very important for finding the church records. Here you can find out whether the place had its own church or whether the place belonged to another church parish (gepfarrt). You should also pay attention to the years and time periods. In the course of the decades some things can have changed.

The information is divided into Protestant and Catholic parishes.

Administrative Affiliation

When searching for historical records of a place and its inhabitants, it is absolutely necessary to know the administrative affiliation of the place, in the past and the present. The records in the public archives are usually arranged according to the principle of origin. That means, that the place where the document was written in the past is significant. Knowing or even guessing where something was written down helps to find the right archive.

The administrative affiliation of the place in the present can be important to find out where the historical records are kept today. For example, the old marriage registers for Höckendorf (a town near Dresden) are now in the county archive Pirna. Reasons for this can be structural changes of the counties and associated archives. (Example)


The information on the landlordship can be equally important for archival research, as the information provided here can be helpful when searching the archive's finding aids.


This block informs you about the form of the place (village, town, ...), changes in the affiliation of the place or even parts of the place to other places, with naming of the concerned year. You can also find information about the old constitutional forms, which shows you the historical development of the place (for instance from a farm to a manor to a knight's seat).

The information of incorporated places can also be useful for the identification of places.

Settlement form and parcel size

This block with information on the structure of the settlement as well as the size of the fields is probably of more interest to historians than for genealogical research.


Information about the historical development of the population. This can give you an overview of the size of the town in different years.


Important for further research:

  • References to court records relating to a specific place
  • Saxon Biography: outstanding personalities of Saxon history with reference to the respective place, number of entries is given in brackets
  • ISGV picture archive: Pictures of places from more recent times, for downloading

Quick guide video

How to search places in Saxony and all important elements o f the platform will be explained in this quick guide video for the historical gazetteer of Saxony.

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