Maps help you find the places where your ancestors lived. They identify political boundaries, names of places, geographical features, cemeteries, churches, and migration routes. Historical maps are useful for finding communities that no longer exist or that have been incorporated into surrounding urban areas.
In Philippine research, some maps may not clearly indicate political boundaries or give the historical information you need. Often there are several places with the same name. Today, for example, five localities in the Philippines have the name Viga. Make sure you have the correct locality before proceeding with your research.
Finding the Town on a Map
For successful research, you need to know the town where your ancestor lived. Because many towns have the same name, you may need some information about the town. Before using a map, you may search gazetteers, histories, family records, and other sources to learn all you can about:
- The province your ancestor’s town was in.
- The province your ancestor came from.
- The name of the parish where your ancestor was baptized or married.
- The towns where other relatives and ancestors lived.
- Your ancestor’s occupation (this may indicate the size or industries of the town).
- Nearby localities, such as large cities.
- Nearby features, such as rivers and mountains.
- Industries in the area.
- Other names the town was known by.
Gazetteers, maps, and information about the place (such as the size of nearby features and cities) can often enable you to identify the political district or county your ancestors came from. See also Philippines Gazetteers.
The Philippine Bureau of Coast and Geodetic Survey has an excellent collection and is the nation’s primary producer of maps. Its publications are indexed in:
- Philippines (Republic). Bureau of Coast and Geodetic Survey. Topographical Maps, Nautical and Aeronautical Charts and Technical Publications. Manila, Philippines: Not published.
The Philippine National Library at http://www.nlp.gov.ph/ has a good collection of historical and modern maps. These are indexed in:
- Maloles, Leticia R., Editor. A Guide to the Map Collection of the Filipiniana Division. Manila, Philippines: Bibliography Division, National Library, 1971. TNL Research Guide Series number 1.
The U.S. Library of Congress at http://www.loc.gov/index.html also has a sizeable collection of historical Philippine maps, which is analyzed in:
- Phillips, Lee P. A List of Maps, Charts, and Views of the Philippine Islands in the Library of Congress, Bibliography of the Philippine Islands. Washington DC, USA:Government Printing Office, 1903, published as Senate Document number 74.
Excellent up-to-date maps are available at the U.S. Army Topographical Command. The following sources describe maps:
- Map Deposit Catalog. Washington, DC, USA: U.S. Army Topographic Command, 1970 edition.
- Foreign Maps. Washington, DC, USA: U.S. Department of the Army, 1963. IV. The Philippines: pp 146–149 TM5–248.
An atlas is a bound collection of maps. It may contain historical information for provinces or municipalities. Most public and university libraries and many historical societies have good maps and atlases, such as:
- Hendry, Robert S., Editor. Atlas of the Philippines. Manila, Philippines: Phil-Asian Publishers, c1945. (FHL book 959.9 E7a.)
- Atlas of the Philippine Islands. (Original title: Atlas de Filipinas, colección de 30 mapas.) Photocopy of the original published: Washington, DC, USA: Government Printing Office, 1900. (FHL book 959.9 E7ap; film 0599778 item 3; fiche 6072407.)
Some maps showing political, historical, and administrative divisions in the Philippines can be found on the Internet at:
The Family History Library also has a small collection of loose maps. See the Family History Library, Locality section, under:
PHILIPPINES - MAPS
A wiki article describing an online collection is found at: