May 24, 2015

Find Old Maps and More: Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast Episode 122

Genealogy Gems Premium PodcastGenealogy Gems Premium members can now listen to Genealogy Gems Premium podcast episode 122! This episode brings to your ears the newest Premium video: Best Websites for Finding Historical Maps.

My favorite take-away from this Premium episode? The shownotes! There’s a FULL-PAGE table on Lisa’s favorite websites for free historical maps. Below is a “teaser” of the table with just the categories shown: the name of the website, how many maps it offers, the geographic coverage, what time frame, whether the maps are available for re-use by you and valuable search tips for each.

Historic maps shownotes teaser

This table can be YOUR key to unlocking the old map treasures you want to pluck from the hundreds of thousands of maps available online.

Newspaper inventionAlso in this Genealogy Gems Premium podcast episode, Lisa  is joined by Your DNA Guide, Diahan Southard, who talks about fascinating developments in genetic genealogy in the U.K. The episode wraps with some fun trivia: a landmark invention in history that catapulted us into the modern Newspaper Age in the late 1800s. Here’s a patent drawing of that invention: can you tell what it is?? Tune in to the episode to find out.

free_pc_400_wht_2095Not a Genealogy Gems Premium member yet? Take us for a test drive! Click here to listen to a FREE episode of our flagship Genealogy Gems podcast. Click here to watch a FREE excerpt from the Premium historical maps video on using Sanborn maps for genealogy. If you love what you see and hear, consider becoming a Genealogy Gems Premium member so you have access to hours and hours of Genealogy Gems programs!

3 Sources for Historic Maps that May Surprise You

Old maps are an essential tool for discovering more about your family’s history. If you have exhausted more traditional sources, here are three places to find maps that may surprise you.

#1 Surprising Finds within the David Rumsey Map Collection

www.davidrumsey.com

You’re probably aware that the David Rumsey map collection website is a terrific source for old maps. But you may be surprised by the variety of maps, some which you likely don’t come across every day. Here’s a fun little tactic I took today to see what it may hold in store beyond typical maps. A search of the word neighborhood reveals that their holdings go well beyond traditional maps. Here’s an example from San Francisco showing a neighborhood in its infancy:
google earth maps for genealogy

And the image below depicts the Country Club district of Kansas City in the 1930s. If your family lived there at that time, this is a real gem.

Google earth for genealogy maps

#2 Google Books

www.books.google.com

If you think Google Books is just books, think again. Historic maps, often unique and very specific, can often be found within those digitized pages. Try running a Google search such as: neighborhood map baltimore. 

Click the MORE menu and select BOOKS. Then click the SEARCH TOOLS button at the top of the results list, and from the drop down menu select ANY BOOKS and then click FREE GOOGLE BOOKS:

baltimore search

Select a book that looks promising. Then rather than reading through the pages or scanning the index, save loads of time by clicking the thumbnail view button at the top of the book. This way you can do a quick visual scan for pages featuring maps!

baltimore history

When you find a page featuring a map, click it display it on a single page. You can now use the clipper tool built right in to Google Books to clip an image of the map. Other options include using Evernote (free) or Snagit ($).

Google Image search for maps google books

#3 Old Newspapers at Chronicling America

http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/

Like Google Books, the digitized pages housed at the Chronicling America website contain much more than just text. Old newspapers printed maps to help readers understand current events like the progress of war or the effect of a natural disaster. This map from The Tacoma Times in 1914 shows a map of Europe and several quick facts about the “Great War,” World War I:

The Tacoma Times, August 22, 1914. Image from Chronicling America. Click on image to visit webpage.

The Tacoma Times, August 22, 1914. Image from Chronicling America. Click on image to visit webpage.

Here’s one more example below. A search for “San Francisco earthquake” at Chronicling America brought up this bird’s eye view of San Francisco at the time of the major 1906 earthquake. Articles below the map explain what you’re seeing:

The Minneapolis Journal, April 19, 1906. Image at Chronicling America; click on image to see it there.

The Minneapolis Journal, April 19, 1906. Image at Chronicling America; click on image to see it there.

Learn more about using newspapers to understand your ancestors’ lives in my book, How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers. 

Want more inspiring ideas for finding historic maps? Below is my FREE 8-minute video on using Sanborn maps. This is an excerpt from my Genealogy Gems Premium video, “5 Ways to Enhance Your Genealogy Research with Old Maps.” (Premium membership required to watch that full video along with others like “Best Websites for Finding Historical Maps.”)

New Pictorial Maps on David Rumsey Map Collection

Map of Hollywood, 1928. Online at David Rumsey Historical Map Collection. Click on the map for full citation information.

Map of Hollywood, 1928. Online at David Rumsey Historical Map Collection. Click on the map for full citation information.

Pictorial maps are both fun and useful for finding our family history. These use illustrations in addition to regular cartographic images to communicate their messages.

For example, this 1928 map of Hollywood, California, inserts faces of the famous and illustrations of local attractions. But maps like those don’t just exist for popular tourist destinations. And now there are even more pictorial maps online and FREE to use at the David Rumsey Map Collection.

According to a press release, “Over 2,000 pictorial maps and related images have been added…in the form of separate maps, pocket maps, case maps, atlases, manuscript maps, and wall maps.”  These include “certain panoramic and birds-eye maps, diagrammatic maps, and timelines.” Pictorial maps were especially popular during the 1920s-1940s, but David Rumsey includes many from the 19th century and before. The collection continues to grow; check back often to look for the maps you want most.

Genealogy Gems Premium Membership and PodcastDid you know that I teach an entire video class on using historical maps in genealogy research? I’ve put a free excerpt on the Genealogy Gems YouTube Channel: Using Sanborn Fire Maps for Genealogy and Family History. Watch it below! Genealogy Gems Premium members can watch the full class, which goes in-depth on four MORE types of helpful historical maps, and download the companion handout! (Click here to learn more about Premium membership.)

Best Websites for Historical Maps: A New Premium Video!

Best websites for finding historical maps Genealogy Gems premium videoLooking for a pre-1700 map of the Americas as the Europeans found it? Yearning to survey the plot of land your ancestors tilled in Cobb County, Georgia? Historic maps can point you in the direction of your ancestors. But navigating your way to an original map can be a costly and time-consuming trek. Before you venture down that road, navigate your way to the treasury of digitized maps available online!

A new video class can help Genealogy Gems Premium members do just that: Best Websites for Finding Historical Maps. Literally hundreds of thousands of historical maps are available for free online in high-resolution digital format that you can download right to your computer without ever leaving home. The websites I show you offer some of the largest map collections available on the Internet today. I demonstrate strategies for searching the best websites for historical maps that will help YOUR research. You’ll see what’s out there, how to find the right maps and how to download and use them.

Historic_Maps_VideoGenealogy Gems Premium members also have access to my popular online video class, 5 Ways to Enhance Your Genealogy Research with Old Maps. Not a Premium member? Get a taste of these classes for free on the Genealogy Gems YouTube channel! Check out this free excerpt: “Using Sanborn Fire Maps for Family History and Genealogy.” 

10 Maps for Family History at David Rumsey Map Collection

Imperial Airways Map of Empire & European Air by Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, 1937. Online at DavidRumseyHistoricalMaps.com. Click on the image to see full citation information. Maps for family history.

Imperial Airways Map of Empire & European Air by Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, 1937. Online at DavidRumseyHistoricalMaps.com. Click on the image to see full citation information.

Among more than 15,000 maps and images newly posted at the David Rumsey Map Collection, these caught my eye as particularly useful for family history. Do any of them look relevant to YOUR genealogy?

1. A massive group of German Invasion plans for England, Wales, and Ireland in WWII;

2. A 1682 map of the areas around Mexico City;

3, Two important early atlases of Swiss Topography;

4. An 1886 Imperial Federation Map of the British Empire;

5. A 1912 wall map of rebuilt San Francisco, The Exposition City;

6. An extraordinary mining map of West Kootenay, [British Columbia], 1893;

7. Harry Beck’s groundbreaking London Underground map 1933;

A 1937 Imperial Airways Map showing air travel routes internationally.

Historic_Maps_Video maps for family historyGenealogy Gems Premium members can learn more about using maps for family history in our full-length video class, 5 Ways to Enhance  Your Genealogy Research with Old Maps. Here’s an excerpt from the video below about finding and using old Sanborn Fire Maps:

Find Old Maps Online at this Gateway Site

gateway to maps of the worldNext time you’re trying to find old maps online, take a look at OldMapsOnline.

As the site explains, “The OldMapsOnline Portal is an easy-to-use gateway to historical maps in libraries around the world.” And not just a few minor libraries, but a long list of major libraries, like:
  • the British Library
  • David Rumsey Map Collection
  • Charles University (Prague)
  • Dutch National Archives
  • Geo-spacial.org (Romanian)
  • Harvard Library Map Collection
  • Map Library of Catalonia
  • Land Survey Office Czech Republic
  • the National Libraries for nations like Scotland, Wales and Colombia
The portal allows the user to search for online digital historical maps across numerous different collections via a geographical search. Search by typing a place-name or by clicking in the map window, and narrow by date. The search results provide a direct link to the map image on the website of the host institution.”

Historic_Maps_VideoTo learn more about using old maps online and for genealogy, go to our home page and search on the Maps category on the lower left side of the page. Genealogy Gems Premium members also have access to full-length video classes like 5 Ways to Enhance Your Genealogy Research with Old MapsGoogle Earth for GenealogySanborn Fire Insurance Maps (NEW!); and Time Travel with Google EarthNot a Genealogy Gems Premium member? Click here to become one!

Love Finding Old Maps Online? Help “Index” Them!

The Beaver Map, 1715. By Special Collections Toronto Public Library. Flickr, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Beaver Map, 1715. By Special Collections Toronto Public Library. Flickr, via Wikimedia Commons.

Recently I’ve seen two calls for volunteers to help “georeference” old maps. Basically, you’re tagging the maps in a way similar to tagging photos of people on social media sites. This makes finding old maps online easier and more accurate. It also allows sites to overlay the old and new maps. “Some places have changed significantly or disappeared completely, creating a puzzle that reveals an exciting contrast,” explains the British Library.

These two sites are asking for volunteers:

The British Library Online Gallery. The British Library is asking for volunteers to help georeference 50,000 maps it’s put online. Go right to the site and you’ll see the invitation to help on the home page. You’ll also see that you can click on a tab to search maps that are already georeferenced! The British Library tells its volunteers: “Your name will be credited, and your efforts will significantly improve public access to these collections. Contributors can see the results of their work, as well as the progress of the pilot and other participants, and the top contributor will be publicly announced.”

David Rumsey Historical Maps. This mega-maps site is also looking for volunteers to help add locations to its online map collections. On the home page, click on the left where it says Georeferencer: Help Add Location to Maps.

figures_lost_looking_at_map_anim_500_wht_15601We blog about maps a lot here at Genealogy Gems. To learn more about using old maps online and for genealogy, go to our home page and search on the Maps category on the lower left side of the page. Additionally, Genealogy Gems Premium members have access to full-length video classes like these:

Not a Genealogy Gems Premium member? Click here to become one!

Land Ownership Maps: New Online Property Map Tools for U.S. Genealogy Research

Screenshot from First Landowners Project video, shown below.

Screenshot from First Landowners Project video, shown below.

Do you ever find it difficult locate U.S. property owned by your ancestors? Two online resources for land ownership maps are available by subscription at HistoryGeo.com, which might just prove helpful!

The First Landowners Project aims to map out the original landowners in public land states. Currently, they’ve charted about 8.8 million original landowners from 21 different states (Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin). “We will continue to add more of the Western states soon,” says a recent press release. “Information on eastern states can be found on our frequently asked questions blog entry.” Watch a video demonstration of this project below. Click here to read a detailed description of it.

The Antique Maps Project is a growing collection of historical maps that contain names of U.S. landowners. Their comment: “Many of these maps are indexed and searchable, and the ones that are not will be (thanks to our volunteer labeling program).” Watch a video about this project below:

Learn more about great mapping tools for genealogy by searching our blog by the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps Premium PresentationMaps category (do this from our home page, lower left side). Or become a Genealogy Gems Premium member to gain a full year’s access to video classes like:

  • 5 Ways to Enhance Your Genealogy Research with Old Maps
  • Google Earth for Genealogy (use Google Earth to identify an old photo location)
  • Google Earth: Follow Your World
  • Time Travel with Google Earth
  • and NEW! Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps

 

Walka walka walka: New Google PAC-Maps!

pacman2It may not help with genealogy, but Google Maps just got a lot more fun!

Yep, it’s PAC-Maps, and with this latest update you can find where NOT to go! Google has added imagery of “dangerous virtual beings, starting with Pinky, Blinky, Inky and Clyde. When navigating fruit-filled streets, determine at a glance which turns to pass to evade ghosts and get where you’re going safely. When you’re feeling a bit peckish, you can simply gobble up a few pac-dots or a cherry and keep on nommin’.”

I’m a little embarrassed to say how many hours I spent playing PAC-MAN in high school. Back then we had to hunch over a machine located next to the bathrooms at the local pizza parlor. Now you can take a break from your brick walls and walka walka walka around the world from the comfort of your desk. With PAC-Maps you can navigate select locations using the left, right, up or down arrows on your keyboard. Below is a screen shot from the desktop version:

desktop google pac maps

 

Actually, PAC-MAN isn’t new to Googlers. Back on May 21, 2010 (yep, it’s official, I’m a Google geek) Google’s home page featured a desktop version that you can still play here.

Genealogists Google Toolbox 2nd edition coverWhen you’re ready to head back to your genealogy brick wall, take my new book with you. The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox Second Edition makes Googling for your family tree easier than every!

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps: NEW Video Class

San Born Map compressedIf your family lived in the U.S. between the late 1800s to mid-1900s, you should look for their home on Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps.

The Sanborn Map Company published maps from 1867 to 1970 to evaluate fire insurance liability in urban areas. The maps are detailed street plans on large sheets of paper—one sheet shows about four to six city blocks.

You can learn a lot about your ancestor’s house and neighborhood from these maps, or research the history of your own old house. These maps show building outlines, locations of windows and doors, building use (including the names of most public buildings), property boundaries, house and block number, street names and more.

Here’s an example of how I’m using Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps for my family history. Below is the Sanborn Fire Insurance Map for San Francisco in 1905. My great grandparents house has long since been torn down, but I know that the original address back before the great earthquake of 1906 was 1144 Kentucky Street. The Sanborn Fire Map for this neighborhood sheds light on why they picked this location when they first married. Not only is it on Kentucky Street where my Great Grandfather Charles worked the Kentucky Streetcar line as a conductor, but it’s right next door to an Emergency Hospital complete with two ambulances and 2 horses. Why is this significant? Because Great Grandmother Ellen was a nurse when they met!

sanborn fire insurance maps for genealogy

Learn how to use these under-valued genealogy resources and where to find them in my NEW Premium video on using Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps. In the video I demonstrate using the maps in Google Earth, which is something you may not find anywhere else! The companion handout for the class is a guide to finding Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps online.

Genealogy Gems Premium MembershipNot a Premium member yet on our site? For one low price, you get a full year’s access to my full video archive with more than two dozen classes (click here for a current list) and about 100 Premium podcast episodes, with exclusive interviews and in-depth how-tos (click here for a current list). Click here to learn about additional membership benefits and how to join!