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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 your ancestor came from. Some maps indicate the county. Maps locate places, geographical features, transportation routes, and proximity to other towns. Historical maps are especially useful for understanding boundary changes. Maps are published individually or as an atlas. (An atlas is a bound collection of maps.) Maps may also be included in gazetteers, guidebooks, local histories, and history texts.
There are different types of maps that will help you in different ways. Historical atlases describe the growth and development of countries. They show boundaries, migration routes, settlement patterns, military campaigns, and other historical information. Road atlases are useful because of the detail they provide.
Using Maps[edit | edit source]
Maps must be used carefully for the following reasons:
- Often several places have the same name.
- The spelling, or even the names, of some towns may have changed since your ancestors lived there.
- Place names are often misspelled in various sources and the spellings may have been badly changed in transliteration.
- Administrative boundaries such as counties and districts are not clearly indicated on all maps. Government maps will usually show such information while other maps may not.
Finding the Specific Town on the Map[edit | edit source]
To be successful researching your Estonian ancestry, you must identify the town where your ancestor lived. Because many towns have the same name, you may need some additional information before you can locate the correct town on a map. Before using a map, search gazetteers, histories, family records, and other sources to learn all you can about the following:
- The district your ancestor’s town was in
- The county your ancestor came from
- Name of the town where your ancestor was baptized or married
- Towns where your ancestor’s relatives lived
- The size of the town
- Nearby localities, such as large cities
- Nearby features, such as rivers and mountains
- Dates when the town was renamed
- Dates the town existed
- Other names the town was known by
You can use gazetteers to identify the district and county your ancestor’s town was in. This will distinguish it from other towns of the same name, and help you locate it on a map. See the “Gazetteers” section.
Finding Maps and Atlases[edit | edit source]
Collections of maps and atlases are available at numerous historical societies and at public and university libraries. The Family History Library has some good Estonian maps and atlases. These are listed in the FamilySearch Catalog under:
ESTONIA - MAPS