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Beyond knowing the name of the city or township where your ancestor lived, a good working knowledge of each location can be critical when it comes to knowing what records are available, where you can find them, why your ancestors made the choices they did. Mountains, lakes, rivers, and other natural hazards may have determined where your ancestor went to shop, worship, and take care of business. Maps and atlases give us a look at the lay of the land. Detailed maps may include other features like churches, cemeteries, government buildings, and in some cases even the names of property holders.

Maps are an invaluable part of family history research, especially if you live far from the places where your ancestors lived.

Because political boundaries often changed, historic maps are critical in helping you discover the precise locations your ancestors lived, what land they owned, who their neighbors were, and more.

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