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Finding Cartographic Resources Online: Gazetteers

A guide to finding cartographic resources online.

Gazetteers

Gazetteers are lists of places or geographical features that are referenced to some particular map grid or coordinate system, frequently latitude and longitude.

"Gazetteers" is a Library of Congress subject subdivision, so it is alway possible use the advanced search screen in WorldCat or Voyager and search for the broad area ("New York State" not "Groton") and "gazetteer" as subject words.

Many local and historical gazetteers have been scanned and are available online with searchable full text. So a Google search can also be useful. Also, don't overlook Wikipedia as a gazetteer.

Columbia Gazetteer
A good general purpose world gazetteer. Cornell subscription.

Maplandia
Essentially Google Maps for the rest of the world.

USGS GNIS
The Geographic Names Information Service lists every feature appearing on USGS topo quads. Includes historical features no longer on current maps.

National Geospatial Intelligence Agency GNS (GeoNames)
The official names dictionary for the world. Excellent for variant spellings, etc.
GeoNames
Combines several geographic name servers including GNS and GNIS and has the same location display functionality as Maplandia. This should be your default online gazetteer.

 

Historic Gazetteers

An example of a scanned local gazetteer. This is a very useful historical gazetteer for New York state. Compare the database record provided by Ancestry, and the page images provided by HeritageQuest both Cornell-only subscriptions.
French's Gazetteer (Ancestry)

You may need to open Ancestry, click on the link for "all databases," choose "Atlases and Gazetteers" from the right hand column, then search for "French" as a keyword. A very awkward interface. But note the many gazetteers available.

French's Gazetteer (HeritageQuest)

 A page image presentation.