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These nine types of maps strike important notes in researching the places your ancestor lived. Learn more about them and get the reference maps Family Tree Magazine has published over the years in our Genealogy Map Collection CD.
• Nationwide road atlases: When you find an ancestral hometown, look it up and jot down the location, county and adjacent counties.
• Gazetteer: This alphabetical listing of towns gives details about a community, such as population, geographical description and political divisions. It can help you track down a place that’s now defunct or has changed names.
• State map: Look for a map showing county boundaries and the county seat. Note the seats of adjacent counties, which may have been closer to your kin.
• County road maps or atlases: Locate ancestral homesites, workplaces and cemeteries, and note nearby features such as lakes, rivers and back roads.
• US Geological Survey maps: Maps available through the National Map reveal topography, such as mountains, that affected your ancestors’ travel. If your family were early settlers, look for features that might be named for them.
• Migration maps: Old and contemporary maps of waterways, historical roads and railroads can help you understand relatives’ migrations. Check the Perry-Casteñeda and David Rumsey historical map collections.
• Census enumeration district maps: Use these to focus page-by-page census searches for hard-to-find ancestors, and to figure out the neighborhood layout.
• Maps showing boundary changes: Old maps and online tools such as the Atlas of Historical County Boundaries <publications.newberry.org/ahcbp> show you other counties that had jurisdiction over your ancestor’s place of residence.
• Sanborn fire-insurance maps: Check libraries and state archives for these maps (which may digitized online), which give details on buildings and neighborhoods from 1866 through the 1930s.
From the October/November 2013 Family Tree Magazine