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Why Use Gazetteers
A gazetteer is a dictionary of place-names. Gazetteers list or describe towns and villages, parishes and municipios, states, populations, rivers and mountains, and other geographical features. They usually include only the names of places that existed at the time the gazetteer was published. Within a specific geographical area, the place-names are listed in alphabetical order, similar to a dictionary.
You can use a gazetteer to locate the places where your family lived and to determine the civil and church jurisdictions over those places. For example, if you were to look for Villa de Seris, the gazetteer would mention that it is a community in the municipio of Hermosillo, found in the state of Sonora. Since Villa de Seris is part of the municipio of Hermosillo civil registration records for Villa de Seris would be found in the records of Hermosillo.
There are many places in Mexico with similar or identical place-names. You will need to use a gazetteer to identify the specific town where your ancestor lived, the state the town was or is in, and the jurisdictions where records about the person was kept.
Gazetteers may also provide additional information about towns, such as:
- The different religious denominations.
- The schools, colleges, and universities.
- Major manufacturers, canals, docks, and railroad stations.
- Some gazetteers contain historical information and biographical information on some individuals (usually high ranking individuals)
Antonio García-Cubas's Diccionario Geográfico, Histórico y Biográfico de los Estados Unidos Mexicano is one of the best gazetteers for Mexico. The gazetteer provides civil jurisdictions for the entire country of Mexico. The gazetteer can be found online at the following websites:
- Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León. This website has the entire gazetteer in color scans in PDF format.
- Tomo 1 contains A - B
- Tomo 2 contains C- Ch
- Tomo 3 contains D - Ll
- Tomo 4 contains M - R
- Tomo 5 contains S - Z
- Biblioteca Digital Daniel Cosío Villegas. This website has every place name indexed, so it's the best way to quickly and easily find the locality you're looking for provided you can spell the name of the locality correctly or at the very least know the first few letters of the name.
To find additional gazetteers for Mexico in the FamilySearch Catalog follow these steps:
- Go to the FamilySearch Catalog
- Click on: Place Search
- Enter: Mexico in the first box, and leave the second box empty.
- Click on: Mexico
- Click on: Mexico-Gazetteers
Note: The entries that have been microfilmed can be ordered to your local family history center. To learn more about finding your local family history centerclick here...