Philippines Gazetteers

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A gazetteer is a list and description of places. You may use it to find where your family lived. Gazetteers describe towns and villages and give the geographic features and the size of the population.

They usually include only the places that existed when the gazetteer was published. Places are generally in alphabetical order similar to dictionary order.

Modern Place-Names[edit | edit source]

The FamilySearch Catalog lists places by their modern names and boundaries. To find the province of a current city or municipality, use the “see references” at the beginning of the first microfiche for the Philippines and at the beginning of each province.

Online gazetteer:

Illustration of Philippines Gazetteer

Philippines gazetteer.png

Gazetteer Instructions

Abbreviations are defined beginning on page x of Volume 1. The RP under the title AREA number is a code for the province. On page xiv an xv (Volume 1), you will find a chart giving a key to the RP codes.

Historical Place-Names[edit | edit source]

Because place-names and boundaries have changed in the Philippines, you will probably need sources that describe places of earlier times. In the FamilySearch Catalog, Locality section, the “see references” provide historical place-names and alternate spellings. These references and a good atlas should help you solve most research problems.

  • Jones - Old name of the municipality of Banton, Romblon in Banton Island. Banton was renamed to Jones in honor of the American congressman William Jones who authored the Philippine Autonomy Act of 1916 that provided for greater autonomy for the Philippines under American colonial rule. In 1959, Republic Act No. 2158 restored the island to its former name. 

Magallanes - Old name of Magdiwang, Romblon.

Naylog - Old name of Magdiwang, Romblon

County Origins and Boundary Changes[edit | edit source]

Because provinces and municipalities were often divided and their names changed, you may need to determine previous boundaries and jurisdictions to locate your ancestor’s records.

A local history is a very good source of information about an area’s origin and evolution. Many provinces have historical societies that have collected and compiled local histories of regions within the province.

You also may check atlases and gazetteers for boundary and name changes.

The National Census and Statistics Office has current boundary listings.

The National Historical Institute has a very good collection of local histories and biographies of prominent citizens.

For place-names not in the “see references” of the FamilySearch Catalog, see a good gazetteer, such as:

  • Philippine Islands: Official Standard Names Approved by the States’ Board on Geographic Names. Washington, DC, USA: U.S. Office of Geography, 1953.
  • United States. Board on Geographic Names. Gazetteer to Maps of the Philippine Islands: Map Series AMD S401 (second edition). Washington, DC, USA: Army Map Service, 1944.
  • A Pronouncing Gazetteer and Geographical Dictionary of the Philippine Islands, United States of America, with Maps, Charts, and Illustrations. Washington, DC, USA: Government Printing Office, 1902. (FHL film 0599315.)