Many of you may have read my article on using maps in genealogy (“On the Map”) in the August 2001 issue of Family Tree Magazine. In the article, I wrote about the years I spent looking for my great-great-grandfather in the wrong county—all because I didn’t do some basic map research.
Maps can be used to pin down an exact location, trace a county boundary line and make an educated guess about migration routes. Period maps, drawn before Mother Nature and the Corps of Engineers changed the course of rivers, will also give you a real feel for the landscape your ancestor knew well.
The Internet has dozens of great map sites. One of them is the United States Digital Map Library, a USGenWeb Archives project, at www.rootsweb.com/~usgenweb/maps. The goal of the project is to make high quality maps available to genealogists.
There are three categories of maps in the project: United States national maps, Indian land cessions in the United States and state maps. Maps are large in size and may take quite a long time to download. There is a wonderful advice page that covers the basics of downloading and printing graphic files. You’ll find it at www.rootsweb.com/~usgenweb/maps/advicepg.html.
Other map sites:
• Old Maps
• David Rumsey Historical Map Collection
• Perry-Casta-eda Library Map Collection
• Historic USGS Maps of New England
• New York State Historical Maps
• US Territorial Maps 1775-1920
• Library of Congress Map Collections