Shauna has chosen Gazeteers for week 12's topic. So just what is a gazetteer? Shauna tells us that "a simple definition is that it is a publication which lists geographical places in alphabetical order plus giving some descriptive background information on the place. Not all that exciting as usually there is no detailed information on our ancestors but gazetteers can provide good background on where and how our ancestors lived and why they may have decided to move or emigrate to Australia."
Samuel Lewis published topographical dictionaries for Ireland in 1837, Scotland in 1846, England in 1848 and Wales in 1849, and these are simply gazetteers by another name. Reading the relevant Gazeteers can help us to imagine what life was like for our ancestors living in those places at that time. Maps are useful to show where a place is but gazetteers give a much more descriptive look at places and can explain why our ancestors had certain occupations, how they lived and perhaps why they chose to leave and try their luck on the other side of the world. Context is important in family history research and with so many gazetteers online there is no excuse for not checking them out and seeing what they can add to your research. Happy gazetteering!