Maps are essential for locating the places where your ancestors lived. They help you locate neighboring towns, churches, geographical features, and transportation routes. Historical maps are especially useful for understanding boundary changes. Maps also provide information not found in other sources.
Maps are published individually, or as an atlas (a bound collection of maps). Maps may also be included in gazetteers, guidebooks, local histories, and historical texts.
Different types of maps help you in different ways. Historical atlases describe the growth and development of countries. They show boundaries, migration routes, settlement patterns, and other historical information. Ordnance Survey maps show townships in great detail (up to one-half inch to the mile). Street maps are extremely helpful when researching in large cities such as Suva.
Maps must be used carefully for several reasons:
- There are often several places with the same name.
- 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 and difficult names may have been shortened.
Finding a Specific Town on a Map
To do successful research in Fiji, you must identify the town where your ancestor lived. Because more than one town may 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. Use gazetteers to identify the district 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 Fiji Gazetteers.
Before using a map, search histories, family records, and other sources to learn all you can about the following:
- The place your ancestor came from
- The island and district your ancestor's town was in
- The size of the town
- Dates the town existed
- Other names the town was known by
- Dates when the town was renamed
- Name of the church where your ancestor was baptized or married
- Nearby localities, such as large cities
- Nearby features, such as rivers and mountains
- Industries of the area
- The occupation of your ancestor or his relatives (this may indicate the size or industries of the town)
- Towns where related ancestors lived
Finding Maps and Atlases
The Family History Library has a good collection of Fiji maps and atlases. These are listed in the Family History Library Catalog, Place Search, under:
FIJI - MAPS
FIJI - [ISLAND] - MAPS
FIJI - [TOWN] - MAPS