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England, How To Find Maps
Maps are an important source for locating where your ancestors lived. They can identify:
• Geographic features.
• Transportation routes.
Maps may be flat sheets, bound in atlases, or incorporated into gazetteers. This guide will tell you
about the usefulness of maps and instruct you on how to find maps of England. For more
information about maps, see Background.
What You Are Looking For
A map of the area of England where your ancestors lived in order to:
• Locate a place.
• Identify jurisdictions.
• Gain an understanding of the surrounding area.
These seven steps will help you find a map of England for use in your research.
Step 1. Determine your map needs.
Different types of maps serve different purposes. You should determine what kind of map you
need. Do you need to know:
• Neighboring towns?
• Distance between places?
• Boundaries of a jurisdiction?
• Agricultural uses of the land?
• Geographic features such as mountains and rivers, mines, or migration routes?
Determine your map needs so you can find the right type of map.
England, How to Find Maps
Version of Data 03/08/01
Step 2. Look on the Internet.
Sites on the Internet provide maps of England. GENUKI, which stands for "Genealogy for the
United Kingdom and Ireland," provides links to maps of England as well as specific counties or
Also on GENUKI is the Parish database, which gives the geographic locations of churches. It can
also provide a list of all churches within a five-mile radius of the place you select.
Another valuable site is Multimap, which is a current, completely interactive atlas of Great Britain
that can zoom in right to the street level of cities.
Step 3. Visit a library near you, and look in the library catalog.
You will probably not find maps on the Internet to fill all of your needs. You could also visit a
library. Any library near your home may have maps of England. It may be a public, university, or
genealogical society library. The larger the library, the larger and more varied will be their map
collection. Look in the library's catalog for a list of maps, atlases, or gazetteers for England.
Step 4. Search the Family History Library Catalog.
You may search the Family History Library Catalog for maps of England. Go to What to Do Next,
select the catalog, and look for maps for England, a county, or a specific town or city. When
looking at the catalog entry for a map, make note of the library call number, and be sure to find
out if it is also available in microform.
Maps within books, such as local histories, are not normally listed in the Family History Library
Catalog. Many of these maps have been listed in Rural and City Maps.
Step 5. Obtain a copy of a map.
You can obtain a copy of a map in one of the following ways:
• Personally visit the Family History Library or another library, and use the library call number to
find a copy of a map.
• If you cannot personally visit a library, you may be able to have a map copied for you. Contact
the library and inquire about their photocopy services. The Family History Library also offers
photocopy services. You should complete a Request For Photocopies form, which is
available at Family History Centers. Include the library call number for the map, and mail it to
the library with payment.
• If the map is available on film or fiche at the Family History Library, you may visit a Family
History Center and order a copy of the film or fiche to be sent to the center for a small fee.
Step 6. Cite your sources.
Be sure to cite the source of your map. When you cite your source, you document the map. If you
should ever need to find the source of the map again, your documentation will show you where to
find it. If others should consult your research, they will also see where to find the source of the
Cite your source on a research log, and include the library call number or Internet site address.
Your research log will serve as a guide to your research. When making photocopies of maps,
also cite the source on the copy.
England, How to Find Maps
Version of Data 03/08/01
Step 7. Purchase a map.
You may purchase a map to help you in your research. Maps should be available at bookstores
and other similar outlets near you, or you can purchase maps directly from the Ordnance Survey
Office in England. Their Internet site also gives addresses for their world-wide outlets. Select
Where to Buy then World Wide for the location of outlets near you.
Maps are key to understanding the setting of your ancestors' lives. Your ancestors' childhoods,
educations, occupations, and migrational movements were all affected by the places in which
they lived. If your ancestors lived in a farming area, a mining area, or a city, they would likely
have followed occupations that were related to where they lived. If they chose to migrate to
another area, they would likely have followed accepted migration routes. Maps can help identify
and locate these types of features.
Maps are published individually or in atlases, which are bound collections of maps. Maps may
also be included in:
• Local histories.
• Other history texts.
Different types of maps can help you in different ways:
Historical maps and atlases are especially useful for understanding boundary changes. They
describe the growth and development of countries and may show:
• Various jurisdictional boundaries.
• Migration routes.
• Settlement patterns.
• Military campaigns.
• Other historical details.
Road atlases show distances between places and may provide landmarks.
Ordnance survey maps show townships in great detail—up to ten inches to the mile.
City and street maps are extremely helpful when researching large cities, such as London. City
maps can show the locations of:
• Government offices.
Topographical maps show the terrain of the land.