Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tuesday's Tip - Find Historical County Boundaries with Randy Majors' Map Tool

This week's Tuesday Tip is to:  Use Randy Majors' Historical County Boundary Map Tool (http://randymajors.com/2011/06/new-and-simple-online-tool-uses-google.html)  to determine county boundaries in a specific year.

Randy Majors announced this tool on his blog in New and simple online tool uses Google Maps to show historical county boundaries.

County governments maintain various types of records that are useful for genealogical research, but the county boundaries occasionally moved. Your ancestors may have lived in the same physical location for decades, but their records may be in several jurisdictions (states, counties, townships, towns) over those years.  John H. Long, the director of the Atlas of Historical County Boundaries Project at the Newberry Library, says "the average number of boundary changes per county in the U.S. Is 4.5." This means that there's a very good chance that you are sometimes looking in the wrong county for some of your historical genealogical records.

To use this tool, a user enters a place name and a year of interest in the fields above the map, and the tool creates a Google Map with the historical county boundaries shown for the year selected. The image below is for Madison, Wisconsin in 1840.

The "Message from webpage" provides information about the county formation date, and the earlier jurisdictions for the county.

This mapping tool uses the Newberry Library historical county boundary atlas data and superimposes it on a current Google Map of the locality.

The tool works very quickly and is a significant help to all genealogy researchers.  Read Randy's blog post about this tool, and check the Comments too.  Many problems with the tool were sorted out in the two days after it was unveiled.  It is still in Beta development, which means that it should work fairly well but there may be problems.

The URL for this post is: http://www.geneamusings.com/2011/06/tuesdays-tip-find-historical-county.html

(c) 2011. Randall J. Seaver. All Rights Reserved. If you wish to re-publish my content, please contact me for permission, which I will usually grant. If you are reading this on any other genealogy website, then they have stolen my work.

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