Essential Reading: Maps and Migration

Historical New York Maps for Genealogy Research

Historical maps can provide valuable information to the genealogist or family historian that isn’t available anywhere else. Maps can reveal where people lived, the boundaries of their property, and who their neighbors were. They may even provide clues as to what people did for a living, where their ancestors came from, and how a family came to bear its name.

The good news for researchers interested in maps is that many are now available online in digital format. This guide contains a detailed overview of the top websites and repositories where you can find historical maps, atlases, and similar records. Read the guide.

Google Earth for Genealogy, Part 1: Putting Your Ancestors on the Map

Maps and mapping software have long been under-utilized as tools for family history research, but can be incredibly useful resources for genealogists of all skill levels. Thanks to recent advances in the field of geospatial technology, family history researchers have never been better positioned to start using this technology to their advantage.

Part one of this two-part guide will introduce the technology and suggest ways to add your own family history information to a map. Read the guide.

Google Earth for Genealogy, Part 2: Adding Historical Maps & Data

Are you using the power of maps and geotechnology to learn more about the world of your ancestors?

Geospatial information systems (GIS) are revolutionizing how we do family history research and understand our family’s landscape throughout history—they are now more powerful and easier to use than ever, so it’s a great time to get started. In part two of this two-part article, we’re going to look at how we can import data created by others into Google Earth—digitized historical maps and other tools—and then use it to analyze our own family history in a geographic context. Read the guide.

Fire Insurance Maps: Sanborns and Others

Have you ever wondered about the daily life of a particular ancestor? What did their home look like? What about the street they lived on? What kind of shops, houses, or other buildings did they pass by every day? How far did they walk to their place of worship, or their job? 

Believe it or not, this kind of information is within reach if you can locate a fire insurance map that covers their time and place. Fire insurance maps are some of the most detailed and fascinating historical maps available and they are particularly useful for genealogists - not only can you use them to vividly recreate the world of your ancestors, but information gleaned from these sources can also lead to discoveries. Read the guide.

Why and How New Yorkers Migrated to the Great Plains

The reasons for westward movement vary by time period and population, and the route your ancestors may have taken on their westward journey depended heavily on what kind of transportation was available at that time in history. The contents of this article and the historical maps that accompany it (which did not appear in the original publication) will be of interest to anyone whose ancestors migrated from New York to the western or midwestern United States. Read the article.