October 1, 2014

Historical Norwegian Maps Online: Great Genealogy Resource!

norway_flag_perspective_anim_500_wht_3647Recently we heard from Gordon in Billings, Montana, U.S.A, who passed on news about historical Norwegian maps online now at their National Map Works. He says:

“I have been enjoying your podcasts for a couple of years now, so I though I would pass on a piece of information that some of your listeners might want to hear about.

I don’t know how many of them do research in Norway like I do but I suspect that most of the ones that do, do not make a habit of reading the Norwegian newspapers. Since my wife was born in Norway, we do read her hometown paper on a regular basis. Just yesterday, that paper, Bergens Tidende, had an article reporting that the “Statens Kartverk” (the National Map Works) has recently digitized and posted on-line 8000 historical maps of Norway. (Click here for the article.)

Unfortunately, the website for the maps has not put a link in their English section yet, but there isn’t much to read beyond place names on the maps anyway. You can view the maps here.

Just choose a county, click the green button, and see a wonderful collection of maps for anyone with ancestors from Norway.”

Thanks for the tip, Gordon! I’ll add this tip of my own: Open the website in Chrome and Chrome will automatically offer to translate the website. Simply click the Translate button, like you’ll see below:

norwegian maps

Getting the Right Place Names on Your Family Tree

all_over_the_map_anim_300_wht_13636Do you ever find yourself scratching your head about which of many local place names to record for a family event? A question on this comes in from podcast listener Joanne K.:

“On FamilySearch I found birth and marriage records of a direct ancestor, then other ancestors and potentials. The records show they were christened or married in Gossersweiler, Bayern. I subsequently obtained a New York marriage record of the direct ancestors wherein both husband and wife list their place of birth as Volkersweiler, Bayern. A search shows this is ½ mile from Gossersweiler. I assume Gossersweiler is the parish church for the village of Volkersweiler. So therefore, for these two people, I can record Volkersweiler as the place of birth and Gossersweiler as the place of baptism, correct?

My bigger question is, what do I record as the place of birth for all the other family members I have found? Can I show a place of birth if all I have is a christening record or marriage record from Gossersweiler? I believe I would find that they were mostly born in Volkersweiler but know I can’t record this as a fact. I also have no wish at this time to get documents from Germany for all these family members.”

Mailbox question from Beginning GenealogistJoanne, I can’t speak to whether Gossersweiler is where the folks from Volkersweiler went to church: you’d have to ask a German expert. But you got the basics right: record each event separately as you found it. For the couple, this means the birthplace in Volkersweiler and the christening and marriage in Gossersweiler. For the other relatives, you don’t have residence information yet–just christening and marriages in Gossersweiler. Enter those specific events and let the data stand alone. That way, in the future when you–or someone following in your footsteps–return to research these other relatives in more depth, you’ll know exactly what is what. It doesn’t hurt to enter your guess on the birthplaces (and why) in notes in individual records. That can provide additional clues to future research without confusing anyone.

Not sure you’re using the right place names on your family tree? It can be tricky to determine local place names when there’s a village and a parish or other overlapping jurisdictions. Check out this post to learn about a great online tool for determining standardized place names.

Finding Places on a Map: Try This Little-Known Genealogy Tool

students_studying_for_class_300_wht_9362Do you ever get lost when looking for ancestral hometowns in Europe or other parts of the world? Boundaries change–national ones as well as regional ones. Place names change. Several little villages may all have gone by the same name over time. And darn those spelling and place name variants!

There’s a great online tool for finding places on a map. It’s the FamilySearch StandardFinder. Under the Place tab, enter the place name that’s got you befuddled. You’ll get a result screen that looks something like this:

FS placefinderWhat do each of those columns mean? We asked a Product Manager at FamilySearch and here’s what he told us:

Column 1:  The official name of the place.

Column 2:  Link/official name to the jurisdiction that the place exists within.

Column 3:  “Normalized” variant names (i.e. other names the place is known by)

Column 4:  General/high-level type (the type) of the place.  Div:  The more specific type (if applicable).  Code: The code for the general type.  FC:  The feature code (taken from NGA’s feature code).

Column 5:  The years within which the place existed (typically within the jurisdiction it belongs to).

Column 6:  The full official (standardized) name of the place and its jurisdiction.

Column 7:  Culture:  The generalized culture that the place exists within.

Column 8:  ISO code:  The ISO code (if applicable).

Column 9:  Geo code:  the “centroid” (or central spot) of the place specified as the latitude and longitude.

Column 10:  The permanent identifier of the place, useful for referencing the place within applications, systems, and products.”

A couple of these columns are a little technical for me, but I can still extract a LOT of information from these results! Place names, variant names, jurisdictions, lifespan of that location, latitude/longitude and all the possible places a possible location might be.

You’ll likely notice that there are Standard Finders for names and dates, too!

Historic_Maps_VideoLearn more about online strategies for map research with Lisa’s 2-CD series, Using Google Earth for Genealogy.

Genealogy Gems Premium members can also access video classes on geography for genealogists, including three classes on Google Earth and the newest video class, 5 Ways to Enhance Your Genealogy Research with Old Maps.

Little House on the Prairie: A New Cookbook and Old Documents

my-prairie-cookbook-memories-and-frontier-food-from-my-little-house-to-yours-paperback-book_357Did you ever watch or read the “Little House on the Prairie” series? It certainly fired my childhood imagination and my lifelong love for history. The stories are based on a series of written-for-kids-but-loved-by-everyone books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Her family helped settle the western American frontier in the late 1800s.

Now “Little House” is coming back to life in the form of a cookbook by Melissa Gilbert, who played young Laura Ingalls in the NBC television series (1974-1983). Melissa has published My Prairie Cookbook: Memories and Frontier Food from My Little House to Yours.

In My Prairie Cookbook, Melissa dishes up comforting family recipes and childhood favorites. There are prairie breakfasts, picnic lunches and treats inspired by Nellie’s restaurant (from the Little House series). Eighty delicious dishes—crispy fried chicken, pot roasts, corn bread, apple pie, and more—let you eat like the Ingalls family! The book is garnished with Melissa’s “Little House” memories and memorabilia, including behind-the-scenes stories, anecdotes, and scrapbook images.

Laura’s Early Years in Google Earth

Often when I’m teaching about how to use Google Earth for genealogy, and in particular, how to create what I call “Family History Tour,” I use Laura’s early life as an my example. Almost everyone is familiar with the story: she was born in Wisconsin, and moved to states like Missouri, Kansas, and Minnesota during her lifetime. Seeing it come together in a virtual tour brings a new tech element to a beloved historical story.

LIW how toYou can download a quick Google Earth Family History Tour of her early years by right-clicking this link and downloading the KMZ file to your computer. Click the file, and it will launch Google Earth and save the tour to your “Temporary Places” at the bottom of the Places panel on the left side of the screen. Click the arrow to open the folder (image right)

Inside the folder double click the “movie camera” icon at the top of the list to play the tour.

The tour will navigate from the Little House in the Big Woods of Pepin, Wisconsin, (with a stop to read the History of Pepin ebook right from the map if you so desire), to Rutland, Montgomery, Kansas as the family was documented in the 1870 U.S. Federal Census, and Laura was just 3 years old.

This short tour, filled with street views, videos, genealogical documents and even digital history books provides a taste of what you can accomplish with your own family. To learn more click here to watch my free introductory Google Earth for Genealogy video class.

Explore Little House in the Big Archives

Next week, The National Archives will host a program about the new cookbook with Melissa Gilbert. Why have a cookbook featured at the National Archives? Because its inspiration–the Ingalls family–was a real part of U.S. history and the National Archives houses many documents about their lives

 

Using Google Earth for Genealogy: Q&A

all_over_the_map_anim_300_wht_13636Have you ever found yourself looking for an ancestor’s address that doesn’t seem to exist anymore? Here are some strategies I recently shared via the following Q&A:

Question: From the 1881 Census in England I uncovered the address for my relative: 3 Buckingham Mews, Kensington Place, London, England.  When I enter this in the search it gives me 3 Buckingham Mews, Westminster, London,UK.

I don’t know anything about London so I don’t know if this is the same thing but just with current location names.  Any suggestions?

My Answer: As with many genealogical questions, this is a question that will likely require several sources in order to answer. I’ve been to London many times and my perception is that Kensington and Westminster are separate areas. Boundaries have certainly changed over the years in London, and England at large though. Here is the direction I would suggest:

1) Google Earth – a search of 3 Buckingham Mews, Kensington actually delivers 3 possible locations (2 in “London” and 1 in “Westminster”). You can save each one to My Places (I would recommend creating a folder especially for this question). At the bottom of the results list you will see an icon that looks like a folder with a down arrow. Click it to download the locations to MyPlaces. Also, be sure to run a search simply on “3 Buckingham Mews” and let Google Earth show you all the possibilities.

2) Go back to your original source: the census. Since there is confusion about the address of your ancestor, look for other addresses listed nearby and plot those in Google Earth. My hunch is that you will begin to build a profile of the census area, and see the relationship between that neighborhood and the 3 results Google Earth delivered.

3) Check Rumsey Historical Maps in Google Earth – LAYERS > GALLERY > RUMSEY (click the Rumsey box). You may need to zoom out a bit to locate the available historical maps. You’ll find that there is one from 1842.

4) Search for applicable maps at the David Rumsey Historical Map Collection. On the home page scroll down and click “Launch Map Rank Search.” From that page you can select London, and then narrow in on the time frame. I would go for a spread of 1870-1890 (see below: you’ll move both pink boxes to set the time parameters on the timeline). There are several excellent maps available to download from that query. Sign up for a free account on the website and you will be able to download the highest resolution maps. You can also, of course, work with the map right on the website.

David Rumsey London 1870 1890 screenshot

5) Google Search – Run some searches on the history of London boundaries and boroughs. Here’s a link to a page a found in Wikipedia  on “London boroughs.”

By exploring multiple sources you should be able to create a “data visualization” that zeros in on the correct location. I hope you’ll share what you find with me!

Google Earth for Genealogy Bundle

Want to learn more about using Google Earth for genealogy? I offer a 2-CD bundle that demonstrates how to:

  • download and use Google Earth;
  • identify where old pictures were taken;
  • explore church record origins;
  • plot ancestors’ homesteads and pinpoint their properties;
  • create custom historic map overlays;
  • save and share images and videos;
  • customize placemarks;
  • create 3D models of ancestral locations; and
  • create unique family history tours. Click here to learn more!

Historical Maps of New York City and More Now Free Online

Map of New York City, 1857. Click for full citation information.

Map of New York City, 1857. Click for full citation information.

Thousands of historical maps of New York City, the mid-Atlantic states and even the Austro-Hungarian empire (yes, really!) are now online–and they’re free.

The New York Public Library has published more than 20,000 historical maps dating from 1660-1922. They are free for public use, downloading, manipulating and publishing!  A lot of the maps are from New York City neighborhoods, like the one shown here.

The author of a news item about the collection said this: “We can’t imagine too many people wanting to remix Gangs of New York-era property charts, but it’s hard to object to getting more geographic knowledge at no charge.” Well, we genealogists may not “remix” these old property maps, but we can certainly see the value in them!

Do you use maps in your research? Have you tried overlaying a historical map showing an ancestor’s home with a modern one on Google Earth? Learn more about using Google Earth in your genealogy research in this FREE video. 

And if this post is interesting to you, you should also read this blog post about interactive historical maps of major cities (like New York City).

 

World War II Maps: A Revolution in Map-Making

Perspective MapsWorld War II started a revolution in map-making. It didn’t just change maps, but it also changed how the world looked at maps.

Maps suddenly became very interesting to everyone. Not just war strategists and troops but all those left behind on the home front. This interest was fueled even more by a revolution in how maps were made–a revolution that anticipated the information-sharing power of Google Earth.

“War has perennially driven interest in geography, but World War II was different,” reports this article in New Republic.  “The urgency of the war, coupled with the advent of aviation, fueled the demand not just for more but different maps, particularly ones that could explain why President Roosevelt was stationing troops in Iceland, or sending fleets to the Indian Ocean.”

The story focuses on artist Richard Edes Harrison, whose World War II maps portrayed theaters of war with vivid clarity. He used the artist’s tools of shading, color and perspective to create maps “that could be intuitively understood by readers of widely varied levels of literacy and sophistication.” His “colorful and sometimes disorienting pictures (not quite maps)…emphasized relationships between cities, nations, and continents at the heart of the war. These maps were published in Fortune, then issued in an atlas that became an instant bestseller in 1944.”

After reading the article I ran a quick check of Google Books, one of my favorite go-to genealogy resources online, on “Richard Edes Harrison:. Sure enough, Google Books has a fully digitized copy of Life magazine (Feb 28, 1944) which includes the article “Perspective Maps: Harrison Atlas Gives Fresh New Look to Old World.” It’s not only chock full of his color maps, but includes a detailed section on how he drew his maps. You can see it here

What really caught my attention was the article’s explanation of how these World War II maps anticipated the information-sharing power of Google Earth. Google Earth shows us the terrain as well as geographic boundaries. That helps us understand things like movements of troops–or movements of ancestors.

As genealogists, we can learn so much by studying maps–particularly the powerful ones on Google Earth. Genealogy Gems Premium Members have access to my series of videos on Geographic Genealogy, including:Historic_Maps_Video

  • Google Earth for Genealogy
  • Time Travel with Google Earth
  • 5 Ways to Enhance Your Research with Old Maps (brand new full hour class – retail value alone $39.95)

PGenealogy Gems Premium Membership and Podcastremium Membership is a bargain at only $29.95 for an entire Bonus EBookyear’s access, plus right now you get the free bonus ebook Lisa Louise Cooke’s 84 Best Tips, Tricks & Tools from Family Tree Magazine.

Click here to learn more about Premium Membership.

 

Old Maps Help Locate Mystery Grave of WWI Australian Jockey

Mystery Grave TombstoneGot a mystery grave in your family history? It’s not uncommon. It can happen for many reasons: no headstone, unidentified body, paperwork missing or lost, graves moved, cemeteries abandoned.

During battles and the immediate aftermath, soldiers’ remains can also be lost. That’s what happened to Private Will Phillips, a “popular jockey” from Australia who joined the British forces during World War I.

Years later, Phillips’ great-nephew chased down his burial place. It wasn’t easy: he had to consult cryptic terrain and battlefield maps created during the chaos of war. He compared cemetery records of known and unknown burials. But he did eventually locate his Uncle Will’s grave next to another soldier’s (mismarked as someone else’s). In the process, he made another breathtaking discovery: a photograph of his uncle taken on the day he was killed in combat–standing next to the man he’s now known to be buried alongside. Read the full story and see photographs of Uncle Will here.

 

Google Maps Street View Delivers a Taste of Time Travel

Google Maps Street View was given an edge today over Google Earth’s street view when Google launched a “time travel” upgrade. The ability to time travel is high on most family historians list, and Street View imagery for Google Maps desktop provides a taste of that prize.

According to Google’s blog post today they have “gathered historical imagery from past Street View collections dating back to 2007 to create this digital time capsule of the world.”Google Maps Street View of Gettysburg

Here’s an example of viewing Gettysburg with the new feature. In many cases, there’s nothing earth shattering to see. But in some locations which have undergone substantial change in that short time period (such as viewing the reconstruction after the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Onagawa, Japan) the results are riveting.

Don’t worry if you don’t see Google Maps Street View Historical Imagery feature yet. When you have millions of users it can take a while to roll out upgrades.

Members Have Been Time Traveling for a While Now
If you’re a Genealogy Gems Premium Member then chances are you made a bee-line for the Time Travel with Google Earth premium video as soon as you joined. In that video we explore some incredibly powerful ways to travel back through our ancestor’s lives and times. And while I still think that those techniques deliver more relevant results for genealogists, this new Street View time travel in Google Maps is exciting in its own way. It offers a glimpse into the future.

Consider this: Google has been amassing incredible amounts of data over its short life including satellite and street view imagery. 7 years in and they can now begin to offer this collection of older imagery in a meaningful way. Imagine what historical street view imagery will look like in 10, 25, or 50 years from now!

After Looking Back in Time, I Offer This Prediction for the Future
While this feature has just rolled out in Google Maps, and is not yet available in our beloved Google Earth, I predict this omission will not last long. You may have already noticed that as you zoom in closer to street level in Google Earth a small clock icon appears at the bottom of the screen indicating historical satellite imagery is available. Next to the icon a date now appears indicating the earliest available imagery. Click the Historical Imagery icon in Google Earth’s toolbar and a time slider indicating the years available will appear.

Historical imagery Google Earth

For most areas of the world this spans about as long as satellite imagery has been around. But in some key areas, such as London and parts of Europe, the slider goes back to the World War II era. Black and white aerial imagery of war torn areas are plainly visible. (If you have World War II veterans in your family tree, this is a feature you’ll want to explore.) It can only be a matter of time before this same Historical Imagery comes to Google Earth’s Street View.

Burkett Family in San Francisco Google Earth for GenealogyMore Ways to Explore and Time Travel Now
If you are intrigued by the idea of using this technology to simulate your own genealogical time travel experience, watch my free video called Google Earth for Genealogy. You’ll travel along with me as I uncover the secrets of a photograph taken just over one hundred years ago, pinpoint the location today, and then travel back in time to further explore my ancestor’s neighborhood. From there, the sky is the limit with Google Earth and Google Maps!

Further Reading:

How to Find Enumeration District Maps

enumeration district maps

1940 Census Enumeration District Map, Oklahoma, Wagoner County, http://research.archives.gov/description/5836456

Looking for enumeration district maps for the U.S. Federal Census? You’re not alone! Recently Genealogy Gems podcast listener Michelle in Denver, Colorado, wrote in with this question:

“Where can I find individual enumeration district maps? I don’t need a state-wide map showing the divisions between enumeration districts, but a map showing the numbered households within a single enumeration district.”

My answer: How to find Enumeration District Maps

First, here’s a little back story from the National Archives (U.S.) website:

“An enumeration district, as used by the Bureau of the Census, was an area that could be covered by a single enumerator (census taker) in one census period. Enumeration districts varied in size from several city blocks in densely populated urban areas to an entire county in sparsely populated rural areas.

Enumeration district maps show the boundaries and the numbers of the census enumeration districts, which were established to help administer and control data collection. Wards, precincts, incorporated areas, urban unincorporated areas, townships, census supervisors` districts, and congressional districts may also appear on some maps. The content of enumeration district maps vary greatly. The base maps were obtained locally and include postal route maps, General Land Office maps, soil survey maps, and maps produced by city, county, and state government offices as well as commercial printers. Census officials then drew the enumeration district boundaries and numbers on these base maps.” (Check out the full article here.)

Enumeration district maps are not available in all years and all locations. 1940 is the most accessible. These are available on the National Archives (U.S.) website. (Scroll down to item 3 for instructions on getting to these through the Online Public Access search.) You’ll see that only the enumeration district numbers and street names are marked on the maps. Individual homes are not.

What about enumeration district maps before 1940? Consult Cartographic Records of the Census Bureau for maps in the National Archives. For censuses before 1900, the government used voting districts as enumeration districts. Find voting district maps in the Library of Congress book, Ward Maps of the United States : A Selective Checklist of Pre-1900 Maps in the Library of Congress.  (The links here lead to WorldCat search results for these titles. WorldCat will tell you about libraries that have these books.) If you just want to find the enumeration district number of an address you already know, go to the Unified Census ED Finder at Steve Morse’s One-Step genealogy website.

Here are a couple more thoughts:

  • In cities,  there are often two columns of numbers in the census population enumeration (typically on the far left of the page). There’s house number and the number representing the order in which the enumerator visited the house (which has nothing to do with the house number). If you can’t find a relative in once census, pull the address from one census and use it in the Steve Morse database above to pull up the enumeration district for your missing decade.
  • Sanborn Fire Insurance Map for GenealogyDepending on the year you are researching, try to locate a Sanborn fire insurance map for the area.  Sanborn maps do include drawings of individual homes and include their house number. Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast Episode 47 is all about Sanborn fire maps. On the show notes page I even include a list of links to many Sanborn map collections, organized by state.

(Image right: Sanborn
Fire Insurance Map)