Using Historic Maps for Your Genealogy

Posted April 4, 2014 by Amanda | No Comment

Do you know where your ancestors once lived? Over time, the names of streets and cities change and borders shift. Landscapes and towns continue to develop and before you know it, what was once a family farm or local schoolhouse, is a parking lot today. When researching our genealogy, it’s important not to overlook the value of historic maps, which can provide a vast number of clues and new leads for you to investigate.

Bronx, New York, 1896

Name and border changes can make it difficult to track your family’s movements over time. By comparing maps of the same location from different time periods, you may find that your records indicating your ancestor lived in three different countries may be a little misleading. A cross-reference of maps of the area over time may actually show your ancestor never moved; the boundaries simply changed!

Los Angeles, California, 1873

County and city maps are especially useful for clues for further research. By comparing county maps of the areas of where your ancestors lived, you can get clues on which counties records you can search for more information. Knowing how county and city borders changed over time can also help you narrow your search for your ancestors in the census records. You may even be able to find information about nearby neighbors and discover relatives who lived close by.

These historic maps will also show the locations of libraries, churches, cemeteries and schools. You can track down where the records from these institutions are archived and do a search for your family there. You never know what information you may find!

Have you used historic maps in your genealogy research? What amazing discoveries have you found? Share your stories with us in the comments below!

Post written by Amanda

Amanda is the Social Media Coordinator at Geni. If you need any assistance, she will be happy to help!

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