Looking 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.
Genealogy 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.”
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). Read more
Family maps and migration routes can sometimes uncover new record finds and answer brick wall questions. It’s fast and simple to use these free tech tools to map your family’s history! I used them to track my ancestors as they trekked from the eastern seaboard to the Midwestern United States and found some fantastic leads!
There are two online treasures I have just discovered. FamilySearch and MyHeritage family trees can now be mapped with some neat interactive tools. MyHeritage just launched their PedigreeMap saying it is an “innovative way to view your family history,” and I think they are right. I have used migration maps to help me overcome brick walls and questions in my research for years. Using these free online tools have made it really fun and not difficult at all.
Creating Family Maps and Migration Routes at MyHeritage
PedigreeMap is free for all MyHeritage users. To access it, log on or create a MyHeritage account. If you are new to MyHeritage, you will be prompted to begin creating your free family tree when you click Sign up at the top right corner of their homepage.
Once you have created your family tree, find it by clicking Family Tree and choosing Manage trees from the pull-down menu.
To use the PedigreeMap feature, choose your family tree from the list and then click on Apps and choose PedigreeMap from the pull-down menu.
You will be able to see a map of the entire world in which your ancestors lives are plotted. From my map below, I can see the large concentration in the eastern half of the United States, but also the location of my ancestors from Europe.
Not only are genealogical events like births, marriages, and deaths plotted on your map, but if you put in a location of a picture, it will plot that too. You will notice, on the left-hand side there is a list of all the places that appear in your family tree. The numbers on the list match up to the number of each place in your family tree.
You can zoom in or zoom out, but my favorite part is clicking a location in the list to the left. For example, if I click on Marion, Linn, another list pops up on the right. This list shows me what events took place in Marion, Linn County, Iowa.
Additionally, I can see major roads, rivers, and hills. I can even click on the satellite view to see the street where my great-grandparents were married!
There are many more wonderful tools on PedigreeMap that you will want to check out. To learn more about all the unique features, read their article here.
Creating Family Maps and Migration Routes with FamilySearch
RootsMapper has been around awhile and is an interactive mapping website that works with FamilySearch. As you know, FamilySearch allows users to create a family tree online and search all their records for free. Like PedigreeMap, you will need to create your free account and family tree at FamilySearch. Then, go to the FamilySearch Apps page and click on RootsMapper. Now, click Get Started.
When you are redirected to the RootsMapper homepage, click Login to begin mapping. You will use your FamilySearch username and password. By clicking Accept, you give permission for RootsMapper to use your FamilySearch tree data.
The interactive map has various features. I particularly like the lines showing both the migration of my paternal line and my maternal line.
Did you notice my paternal line goes right through modern day West Virginia? Several years ago, I had “lost” my Walls family line. By plotting their known whereabouts on a map and connecting the dots, I could see possible migration routes. In fact, during that time frame, they likely took nothing but trails into Monongalia, Virginia. I did a search for records along this path and was surprised to find my fifth great grandfather on a tax roll for Virginia in 1790!
You can play around with the settings and map just one generation, five generations, or even ten generations. The options allow for pins, migration lines, changing the root person you are charting and much, much more.
It really is amazing how innovative genealogy research is today. The Genealogy Gems team delights in sharing new tech tools and tips to help you in your genealogy goals. Why not try out one of these family map and migration route tools today and share with us your thoughts? Leave a comment below!
More Gems on Mapping and Migration Routes
Mapping U.S. Migration Patterns
5 Ways to Enhance Your Genealogy Research with Old Maps (Premium Member Video)
3 Sources for Historic Maps That May Surprise You
Digitized Irish historical maps are among new genealogy records online. Also: Irish civil registrations; Irish, British, and Scottish newspapers; Westminster, England Roman Catholic records; wills and probates for Wiltshire, England and, for the U.S., WWI troop transport photos, Tampa (FL) photos, Mayflower descendants, NJ state census 1895, western NY vital records, a NC newspaper, Ohio obituaries, and a Mormon missionary database.
Beautiful Irish historical maps
Findmypast.com has published two fantastic new Irish historical map collections:
- Dublin City Ordnance Survey Maps created in 1847, during the Great Famine. “This large-scale government map, broken up into numerous sheets, displays the locations of all the streets, buildings, gardens, lanes, barracks, hospitals, churches, and landmarks throughout the city,” states a collection description. “You can even see illustrations of the trees in St Steven’s Green.”
- Ireland, Maps and Surveys 1558-1610. These full-color, beautifully-illustrated maps date from the time of the English settlement of Ulster, Ireland. According to a collection description, the maps “were used to inform the settlers of the locations of rivers, bogs, fortifications, harbors, etc. In some illustrations, you will find drawings of wildlife and even sea monsters. Around the harbors, the cartographers took the time to draw meticulously detailed ships with cannons and sailors. Many of the maps also detailed the names of the numerous Gaelic clans and the lands they owned, for example, O’Hanlan in Armagh, O’Neill in Tyrone, O’Connor in Roscommon, etc.”
(Want to explore these maps? Click on the image above for the free 14-day trial membership from Findmypast.com!)
More Ireland genealogy records
Sample page, Ireland marriage registrations. Image courtesy of FamilySearch.
FamilySearch.org now hosts a free online collection of Ireland Civil Registration records, with births (1864-1913), marriages (1845-1870), and deaths (1864-1870). Images come from original volumes held at the General Register Office. Click here to see a table of what locations and time periods are covered in this database. Note: You can also search free Irish civil registrations at IrishGenealogy.ie.
New at the British Newspaper Archive
The Irish Independent, a new national title for Ireland, is joined in the Archive this week by eight other brand new titles. These include four titles for Scottish counties: Aberdeenshire, Lanarkshire, Angus (Forfanshire) and Wigtownshire. There are also four new papers for England, two of which are from London (Fulham & Hampstead), one for Worcestershire and one for West Yorkshire. Also, significant additions have been made to the British Newspaper Archive’s online coverage for the Brechlin Advertiser (Scotland, added coverage for 1925-1957) and Southend Standard and Essex Weekly Advertiser (added coverage for 1889-1896).
Roman Catholic Records for Westminster, England
Over 121,000 new Roman Catholic parish records for the Diocese of Westminster, England are now available to search on Findmypast.com in their sacramental records collections:
- Parish baptisms. Over 94,000 records. The amount of information in indexed transcripts varies; images may provide additional information such as godparents’ names, officiant, parents’ residence, and sometimes later notes about the baptized person’s marriage.
- Parish marriages. Nearly 9,000 additional Westminster records have been added. Transcripts include couples’ names, marriage information, and father’s names. Original register images may have additional information, such as names of witnesses and degree of relation in cases of nearly-related couples.
- Parish burials. Transcripts include date and place of burial as well as birth year and death; images may have additional information, such as parents’ names and burial or plot details.
- Additional congregational records. More than 16,000 indexed records of confirmations, donations, and other parish records are included here.
London Marriage Licences 1521-1869
Findmypast has published a searchable PDF version of a published volume of thousands of London Marriage Licenses 1521-1869. Search by name, parish, or other keyword. A collection description says, “Records will typically reveal your ancestor’s occupation, marital status, father’s name, previous spouse’s name (if widowed) and corresponding details for their intended spouse.” Note: The full digital text of this book is free to search at Internet Archive.
Wills and Probate Index for Wiltshire, England
Explore more than 130,000 Wiltshire Wills and Probate records in the free Findmypast database, Wiltshire Wills and Probate Index 1530-1881. “Each record consists of a transcript that will reveal your ancestor’s occupation, if they left a will and when they left it,” says a description. “The original Wiltshire wills are held at the Wiltshire and Swindon Archive. The source link in the transcripts will bring you directly to their site where you can view their index and request an image. If you wish to view an image, you will have to contact Wiltshire Council and a small fee may be required for orders by post.”
New records across the United States
WWI: Ancestry.com subscribers may now access a new online collection of photographs of U.S., WWI Troop Transport Ships, 1918-1919. Browse to search by ship name.
Florida. The city of Tampa, Florida has digitized and published two historic photo collections on Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative Digital Collections:
- The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce Collection includes over 30,000 images of Tampa events dating from about 1950 until 1990, and includes many local officials and dignitaries.
- The Tampa Photo Supply Collection includes more than 50,000 images of daily life and special events (weddings, graduations) taken by local commercial photographers between 1940 and 1990, primarily in West Tampa, Ybor City, and South Tampa.
Mayflower descendants. AmericanAncestors.org has published a new database of authenticated Mayflower Pilgrim genealogies: Mayflower Families Fifth Generation Descendants, 1700-1880. The collection includes the carefully-researched names of five generations of Mayflower pilgrim descendants.
New Jersey. The New Jersey State Census of 1895 is now free to search at FamilySearch.org, which also hosts an 1885 New Jersey state census collection. “The state of New Jersey took a state census every 10 years beginning in 1855 and continuing through 1915, says a FamilySearch wiki entry. “The 1885 census is the first to survive in its entirety.” Click here to learn more about state censuses in the United States.
New York. Ancestry.com has published a searchable version of a genealogy reference book, 10,000 Vital Records of Western New York, 1809-1850. According to a collection description, “The 10,000 vital records in this work were drawn from the marriage and death columns of five western New York newspapers published before 1850….Birth announcements were not published in these early newspapers, but many of the marriage and death notices mentioned birth years, birthplaces, and parents’ names, and where appropriate such data has been copied off and recorded here.”
North Carolina. The first 100 years of the Daily Tar Heel newspaper are now free to search in digitized format at the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center. The collection spans 1893-1992 and includes over 73,000 pages from more than 12,000 issues. Click here for a related news article.
Ohio. FamilySearch also now hosts an index to Ohio, Crawford County Obituaries, 1860-2004, originally supplied by the county genealogical society. Obituaries may be searched or browsed; images may include additional newspaper articles (not just obituaries).
Utah and beyond (Latter-day Saint). The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) has published a database of early missionaries. It covers about 40,000 men and women who served between 1830 and 1930, and may link to items from their personal files, including mission registry entries, letters of acceptance, mission journal entries, and photos. Those who are part of FamilySearch’s free global Family Tree will automatically be notified about relatives who appear in this database, and may use a special tool to see how they are related. Others may access the original database here. Click here to read a related news article.
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