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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. Maps locate places, parishes, churches, geographical features, transportation routes, and proximity to other towns.
Maps may be published individually or in bound collections called atlases. 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 provide detailed information about the Danish road systems. Other types of maps include parish maps, county atlases, and topographical maps. Ordinance survey maps show land plats in great detail, sometimes up to one-half an inch to the mile. City street maps are extremely helpful when researching in large cities, such as København (Copenhagen).
Here are some useful maps for general reference:
Also see the map from Research Guidance
Maps must be used carefully for several reasons:
- Several places often have the same name. For example, three parishes are called Gudum in present-day Denmark.
- The spelling and even names of some towns may have changed since your ancestors lived there. Some localities have different names in different languages. For example, the town presently known as Haderslev was named Hadersleben before 1920.
- Place-names are often misspelled in American sources. Difficult names may have been shortened and important diacritic marks omitted. For example, Ørum may be found as Orum.
- Political boundaries are not clearly indicated on all maps.
Finding the Specific Town on the Map
To do successful Danish research, 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 find the correct town on a map. You will be more successful if you have some information about the town. Before using a map, search gazetteers, histories, family records, and other sources to learn all you can about the following:
- The county 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
- Your ancestor's occupation or names of relatives (this may indicate the town's size or industries)
- Nearby localities, such as large cities
- Nearby features, such as rivers and mountains
- Industries of the area
- Other names by which the town was known
Use gazetteers to identify the amt (county) your ancestor's town was in. This will distinguish it from other towns of the same name and help you find it on a map. See Denmark Gazetteers.
Finding Maps and Atlases
Collections of maps and atlases are available at many historical societies and at public and university libraries. See the "Archives and Libraries" section.
The Family History Library has an excellent collection of Danish maps and atlases. These are listed in the catalog under DENMARK - MAPS.
A good atlas at the Family History Library is:
Danmark 1:100 000 Topografisk Atlas (Denmark 1:100 000 Topographical Atlas). København: Geodætisk Institut, 1986. (FHL book Ref 948.9 E7gin.)
Another helpful publication is:
Parish and County Listing with Maps—Denmark. Salt Lake City, Utah: Family History Library, 1992. (FHL fiche 6068353.)
You can purchase maps of Denmark from:
- Amundsen Book Center
Decorah, Iowa 52101
- Travel Genie Maps and Book Store
113 Colorado Avenue
Ames, Iowa 50010