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|Local Research Resources|
Maps are an important source to locate the places where your ancestors lived. They help you see the neighboring towns and geographic features of the area from which your ancestor came.
Maps are also helpful in locating places, parishes, geographical features, transportation routes, and proximities to other towns. Historical maps are especially useful for understanding boundary changes.
Maps are published individually or as an atlas, which is a bound collection of maps. Maps may also be included in gazetteers, guidebooks, local histories, historical geographies, encyclopedias, and history texts.
Maps must be used carefully for several reasons:
- There are often several places with the same name.
- The spelling and even names of some towns may have changed since your ancestor lived there.
- Place names are often misspelled in English sources. Difficult names may have been shortened and important diacritic marks omitted.
- Political boundaries are not clearly indicated on all maps.
Finding the Specific Town on the Map
To successfully research maps, you must identify the town where your ancestor lived. Because there are several towns that have the same name, you may need some additional information before you can locate the correct town on a map. You will be more successful in identifying the town on a map if you have some information about the town. Using gazetteers and other such sources to identify the area your ancestor’s town was in will distinguish it from other towns of the same name and help you locate it on a map.