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Maps are an important source for locating the places where your ancestors lived. They help you see the neighboring towns and geographic features of the area your ancestor came from.
Maps can show places, parishes, 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, a bound collection of maps. Maps may also be included in gazetteers, guidebooks, local histories, and history texts.
Different types of maps 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 also useful. They contain detailed maps and an alphabetical index of place names. Other types of maps may include department or provincial atlases and topographical maps.
Maps must be used carefully for several reasons:
- There are often several places with the same name. For example, there are seven towns called La Union in present-day Peru.
- The spelling and even names of some towns may have changed since your ancestors lived there.
- Some localities have different names in different languages.
- Place-names are often misspelled in foreign sources. Difficult names may have been shortened and important diacritic marks omitted.
- Political boundaries may not be clearly indicated on all maps.
Finding the Specific Town on the Map
To do successful research in Peru, you must correctly 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. You will be more successful if you have some information about the town. Search gazetteers, histories, family records, and other sources to learn all you can about the following:
- The department and district the ancestor came from.
- The name of the parish where your ancestor was baptized or married.
- Towns where related ancestors lived.
- The size of the town.
- Industries of the area.
- The occupation of your ancestor or his relatives (this may indicate the size of the town and the industries that operated there).
- 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.
See Peru Gazetteers for further information on locating your ancestor’s town.
Finding Maps and Atlases
Collections of maps and atlases are available at numerous historical societies and at public and university libraries. Major collections for Peru are at the National Library of Peru.
The Family History Library has a small collection of Peruvian maps and atlases. These are listed in the FamilySearch Catalog under:
PERU - MAPS
Some helpful maps at the Family History Library are:
- Mapa político y físico del Perú (Political and Physical Map of Peru). Scale 1:2,500,000. Lima: El Instituto Geográfico Nacional, 1970. (FHL map 985 E7m.)
- Curletti, Lauro A. Mapa ferroviario del Perú (Railway Map of Peru). Scale: 1:300,000. Lima: Lit. T. Scleuch, 1922. (FHL map 985 E7v.)
A helpful atlas for Peru is:
- Penaherra del Aguila, Carlos. Atlas del Perú: proyecto especial Atlas del Perú (Atlas of Peru: Special Plan Atlas of Peru). Lima: El Instituto Geográfico Nacional, 1989. (FHL book 985 E7a.) Scale varies. 196 maps.
An excellent national historical atlas is:
- Atlas del Perú (Atlas of Peru). Lima: “Guía Lascano,” 1968–69. (FHL book 985 E7p.)
A bibliography of Peruvian maps and atlases is:
- Torres Lanzas, Pedro. Catálogo de mapas y planos: Virreinato del Perú: Perú y Chile (Catalog of Maps and Plans: Viceroyalty of Peru: Peru and Chile). Madrid: Ministerio de Cultura, 1985. (FHL book 985 E73t.)
You can purchase maps of Peru from:
- El Instituto Geográfico Nacional
Av. Aramburu 1198
Lima, Lima, PERU