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.
Did 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.)
A new project backed by top British scientists is crowd-sourcing space exploration by offering donors the chance to put their DNA on the moon. Their first Kickstarter campaign successfully ends today: over £600,000 has been raised in less than a month!
Lunar Mission One hopes to put a research craft on the “South Pole” end of the moon within ten years. The vessel will drill deep into the rock in an effort to learn more about the moon’s origin and history.
Around 6700 individual pledges were made in this first phase of funding. Those who pledged at a certain amount will receive space in a “digital memory box” that will be sent into space with the research craft, a sort of 21st-century time capsule and digital archive on the moon.
“People will be able to upload whatever they want to their memory box – including personal messages, photos, audio and video,” promises the Lunar Mission One website. “There will also be the option to submit a strand of hair for those who wish to store their DNA for inclusion in the time capsule.”
“The price of the digital memory boxes will be determined by capacity – starting from as little as a few dollars. Most digital information-only purchases are expected to be $10+. Customers who want to combine digital information with a strand of hair, will pay $100+. We are also developing prestige packages ($1,000+) and a lottery option from $1.”
What do you think? It’s not too late to join the fun! According to the Lunar Mission One website, “Following the Kickstarter fundraising, and for the next four years, people will still be able to reserve space in the private archive, through an online portal. This could be for themselves or as a gift. Individuals will be able to get involved in other ways, such as through membership of our Supporters Club.” Learn more at the Lunar Mission One website.
Matt from Omaha, Nebraska (U.S.) recently told me about a project his cousin is working on that is so cool the story was picked up by U.S.A. Today.
While poking around at an 1800s-era Iowa prison about to be torn down, Mark Fullenkamp came across boxes of old glass negatives. Upon closer inspection, he found they were intake photos of the inmates. Some were 150 years old!
Mark first set out to digitize and reverse the negative images of over 11,000 prison inmate photos. Others gradually became involved, like scholars at University of Iowa where he works and even inmates at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women. A doctoral candidate who was interviewed by U.S.A. Today says she’s struck by the moment these photos were taken: when their lives were about to change forever. Though many look tough for the camera (and presumably the other inmates), she sees a lot of emotion in their expressions: “The eyes are everything.”
Now Fullekamp’s team is trying to connect names and stories with the photos. It’s not easy, but many of the pictures have inmate numbers on them. Some files have surfaced with inmate numbers and names in them. Others are stepping forward with memories.
Recently 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:
A video archive of oral history interviews about African-American life, history and culture and struggles and achievements of the black experience in the United States has been donated to the Library of Congress.
It’s called the HistoryMakers archive, and it’s the single largest archival project of its kind since the WPA recordings of former slaves in the 1930s. According toa press release, “The collection includes 9,000 hours of content that includes 14,000 analog tapes, 3,000 DVDs, 6,000 born-digital files, 70,000 paper documents and digital files and more than 30,000 digital photographs.”
“The collection comprises 2,600 videotaped interviews with African-Americans in 39 states, averaging three to six hours in length. The videos are grouped by 15 different subject areas ranging from science, politics and the military to sports, music and entertainment.”
“The HistoryMakers archive provides invaluable first-person accounts of both well-known and unsung African-Americans, detailing their hopes, dreams and accomplishments—often in the face of adversity,” said James Billington, the Librarian of Congress. “This culturally important collection is a rich and diverse resource for scholars, teachers, students and documentarians seeking a more complete record of our nation’s history and its people.”
“The collection is one of the most well-documented and organized audiovisual collections that the Library of Congress has ever acquired,” said Mike Mashon, head of the Library’s Moving Image Section. “It is also one of the first born-digital collections accepted into our nation’s repository.”
This African American oral history archive was donated so it would be preserved and accessible to generations yet to come. However, this doesn’t mean the HistoryMakers organization is done gathering stories. According to the press release, “oral histories are continually being added to the growing archive. The oldest person interviewed was Louisiana Hines, who passed away in 2013 at 114. She was one of the iconic “Rosie the Riveter” workers during War World II. One of the youngest is a prima ballerina, Ayisha McMillan, who was 29 at the time of her interview.”