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Maps are an important source in locating where your ancestors lived because they help you see the neighboring towns and geographic features of an area.
Maps identify places, parishes, districts, churches, geographical features, and transportation routes, and their proximity to other towns. Historical maps are especially useful for understanding boundary changes.
Maps are published individually or in atlases, which are bound collections of maps. Maps may also be included in gazetteers, guidebooks, local histories, and history texts.
Different types of maps can 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 they provide detail of the countryside. Ordnance survey maps show townships in great detail—up to half inch to the mile. City and street maps are extremely helpful when researching large cities such as Sydney; they provide locations of churches, cemeteries, businesses, government offices, and monuments. Other types of maps include parish maps, county atlases, and topographical maps.