Maps and atlases are used to locate the places where your ancestors lived. They identify political boundaries, names of places, geographical features, cemeteries, churches, and migration routes.
Historical maps often show communities that no longer exist. The Tennessee State Department of Archives and Libraries has the largest collection of Tennessee maps. They are accessible through a card file in the Manuscript Reading Room. The Tennessee State Library and Archives(TSLA) is in the beginning stages of posting digital copies of historical maps on their website, http://www.state.tn.us/tsla From the TSLA hompage, access TEVA, the Tennessee Virtual Archive. Then browse "historical maps". Among the collection is a 1907 historical map showing Davidson County civil districts and the plotted residences of families living within those districts. Other maps from 1795 and 1806 show early waterways and settlements. The Department of Transportation in Nashville also has a large collection of maps and atlases for the state.
The Encyclopedia of History and Culture site includes a collection of state maps showing major cities, rivers and roadways. Of special interest is a county map which shows a brief summary of each Tennessee county. These maps are published jointly by the Tennessee Historical Society and The University of Tennessee Press.
United States Census Bureau State and County Map. This map will allow you to zoom in on any state or county in the United States and read the names of all of the neighboring counties.
Maps and atlases for Tennessee at the Family History Library include the following:
- Puetz, C. J. Tennessee County Maps. Lyndon Station, Wisconsin: County Maps, 1980?. (Family History Library book Q 976.8 E7p.) Contains detailed maps of each county with towns, roads, points of interest, and major rivers and creeks.
- A New Map of Tennessee: With its Roads and Distances from Place to Place along the Stage & Steamboat Routes. N.p., 1900's. Photocopy of original published by Thomas, Cowperthwait and Company (Family History Library map 976.8 E7n). This map shows land distances, steamboat routes, and railroads that were in progress or proposed. There are inserts for the areas of Nashville and Knoxville.
- Rand, McNally & Company’s Indexed Atlas of the World. 1885. Reprint, Searcy, Arkansas: Presley Research, 1978. (Family History Library book 976.8 E7rm 1885.) This shows railroads, major and minor waterways, county boundaries, and county seats of Tennessee.
List of post offices in Tennessee and their dates of operation will be helpful to genealogists and historians hoping to identify the location of a particular place name. Tennessee State Archives has a list of the post offices. Users should be aware that the county listed is the county in which the post office was located at the time of its creation. Later changes in county boundary lines may have affected the home county of that post office. This list is based on records at National Archives listing postmaster appointments from 1832 to 1971 (see National Archives microfilm publications M1131 and M841).
See the “Gazetteers” section of this outline and the “Gazetteers” and “Maps” sections of the United States Research Outline for more resources regarding places in Tennessee. Also check the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:
TENNESSEE - MAPS
TENNESSEE, [COUNTY] - MAPS
TENNESSEE, [COUNTY], [TOWN] - MAPS
TENNESSEE - GAZETTEERS
TENNESSEE - MIGRATION, INTERNAL
TENNESSEE - NAMES, GEOGRAPHICAL
Printable maps are also available from the National Atlas of the United States -- http://nationalatlas.gov/printable.html