Once a day on the Blair Archival Research Facebook page a new post is shared. There is a theme for each month and February’s was maps. You will get bonus posts relating to the theme but only on the Blair Archival Research Facebook page these will not be posted on the monthly blog review.
Do you have a file containing maps for each family group representing each place the family lived? Write down the place names where your family lived. Include the parishes, civil districts, ecclesiastical districts, town, townland, township, city, county, province, state, and country.
Draw a map for each jurisdiction found in the area where your family lived. You can draw the maps on a single page and use different coloured pencils to differentiate the jurisdictions. On the side create an index to show the jurisdiction each colour represents.
You have created a map for a specific place where your ancestors have lived. Now write a list of the names for jurisdictions surrounding the place where your ancestors lived.
Draw a map for the surrounding jurisdictions that relate to the place where your ancestors lived.
You have created two maps to be used as a resource to help you with your research. Now go and see what records are available for each jurisdiction and look at each level.
Add your maps and record lists to your research plan as references to help you while you are doing research.
Do you have printed maps of the areas in which your ancestors lived? Buying an old map can be a useful tool in your research since the boundaries could have changed over the years.
Look at the areas where your ancestors lived on a modern day map. Google maps are a good resource for this as you can see what the area looks like today. Don’t forget that some road names and house numbers could have changed over the years.
If you have English ancestors then check out the England Jurisdictions 1851 map at FamilySearch. You can narrow the search down to a town or parish. You can take the search further to see the different jurisdictions related to a parish. Then you can see if there are any church records available through the Family History Library.
Have you tried Ancestral Atlas? You can sign up for free and can upgrade to a subscription for £20.00. Users add family history events to the map. You can attach your family information to a place where it happened and decide to share it or keep it private. If you find a pin in an area of interest then click on it to see who else has added information. This covers the world and you never know what you may find.
If you have Irish ancestors then check out Ordnance Survey Ireland. You can browse their maps or look at a PDF version of Lewis’ Topographical Dictionary. There are two series of maps which date from 1837-1842 and 1888-1913. You can browse the maps online or you can purchase them.
You can find Irish County Maps at the London Ancestor website. They also have maps for London, England, Scotland and Wales.
Looking for maps of Scotland? Then check out The National Library of Scotland website. They have maps ranging from 1538 through to the modern day.
There is a Gazetteer for Scotland online and you can find details of towns and villages throughout Scotland.
The National Archives of England have a website called Labs where you will find links to the Valuation Office Map Finder and the Doomsday map which allows you to search for some of the places mentioned in the Doomsday book.
If you are looking for maps of the United States of America there is a site called Atlas of Historical County Boundaries that could be useful.
Another source for maps for the United States is the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library. They have a collection of maps that are available online.
A resource for world maps is The Map as History website.
Maps are a great resource to help you figure out the migration pattern of your ancestors. The New World Encyclopedia has a section on Human Migration that is interesting.
If you have connections to Australia the National Library of Australia has an online digitized map collection.
Those with New Zealand connections may want to check out the digitized map collection at Christchurch City Libraries.
Christchurch City Libraries also have an online collection of digitized maps from around the world.
For those who have a military ancestor and are interested in find out more about where they fought then a battlefield map would be the place to start. You can find a World War II Military Situation Map for Western Europe at the Library of Congress American Memory Project website.
Do you have an ANZAC in your family? Then check out the Mapping Gallipoli page on the Australian War Memorial website.
Firstworldwar.com has a collection of battlefield maps and others that cover all the countries affected by the First World War. It is a good site to find out more about the First World War.
To learn about reading maps you can read the about.com guide to map reading or download a PDF file of “Map Reading Guide: How to Use Topographical Maps.” I recommend downloading the PDF file as it is easy to understand and covers most points.
You can find a broad range of historic maps at the British Library website.
For more links check out Cyndi’s List “Maps & Geography.”
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