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A gazetteer is a dictionary of place-names. Gazetteers describe haciendas (large ranches), towns and villages, districts, provinces, departments, population, rivers, mountains, and other geographical features. They usually include only the names of places that existed at the time the gazetteer was published. The place-names are generally listed in alphabetical order, similar to a dictionary.
Gazetteers may also provide additional information about towns, such as:
- Religious denominations
- Schools, colleges, and universities
- Major manufacturing works, canals, docks, and railroad stations
You can use a gazetteer to locate the places where your family lived and to determine the civil jurisdictions over those places. There are many places in Peru with the same or similar names. For example, there are several jurisdictions with the locality Acobamba:
- Acobamba, province of Sihuas, department of Ancash
- Acobamba, province of Acobamba, department of Huancavelica
- Acobamba, province of Tarma, department of Junin
- Santo Domingo de Acobamba, province of Huancayo, department of Junin
You will need to use a gazetteer to identify the specific town where your ancestor lived, the district, province, and department it was in, and the jurisdictions where records about it were created and kept.
Gazetteers are also helpful for determining the department, province, and district jurisdictions used in the FamilySearch Catalog.
Finding Place Names in the FamilySearch Catalog
Place names in the FamilySearch Catalog are listed under the modern names and the names of departments and provinces as they existed in 1922. To find the department and province that a town is filed under in the FamilySearch Catalog, you can use the “see” references on the first Family History Library Locality Catalog microfiche of each department. If you are using the catalog on compact disc, use the Locality Search. The computer will find places with that name.
Because of the many changes in place names, the Family History Library uses one gazetteer as the standard guide for listing places in the FamilySearch Catalog. Regardless of the names a place may have had at various times, all Peruvian places are listed in the FamilySearch Catalog by the name they are listed under in:
- Steglich, Gérman. Diccionario geográfico del Perú(Geographical Dictionary of Peru). 3 vols. Lima: Torres Aguirre, 1922. (FHL book 985.E5s; film 0845239.)
Other supporting sources are:
- Demarcación Política del Perú (Political Boundaries of Peru). Lima: Instituto Geográfico Nacional, 1983. (FHL book 985 E5d.)
- Demarcación Política del Perú por Departamentos, Provincias y Distritos (Political Boundaries of Peru by Departments, Provinces, and Districts). Lima: Instituto Nacional de Planificación, 1984. (FHL book 985 E5dp; film 1224501 item 5.)
- Perú: Directorio Nacional de Municipalidades Provinciales y Distritales (Peru: National Directory of Provincial and District Municipalities). Lima: Instituto Nacional de Estadística e Información, 1999.
Historical Place Names
Because names and boundaries of some places have changed or no longer exist, you may need to use sources that describe places as they were known earlier. Some of the historical national gazetteers that identify places in Peru are:
- Álisky, Marvin. Historical Dictionary of Peru. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1979. (FHL book 985 H26a.)
- Peru: Official Standard Names Approved by the U.S. Board of Geographical Names. Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency, 1955. (FHL book 985 E5p; film 1102987 item 1.)
- Dicciónario enciclopédico del Perú ilustrado (Illustrated Encyclopedic Dictionary of Peru). 3 vols. Lima: Editorial Mijia Baca, 1966. (FHL book 985 A5de; film 1162476 items 1–3.)
Gazetteers are listed in the FamilySearch Catalog under:
PERU - GAZETTEERS
PERU, [DEPARTMENT] - GAZETTEERS
PERU - DESCRIPTION AND TRAVEL