Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Historic USGS Maps of New England and New York

Dick Hillenbrand's post yesterday "Old Maps of New York Towns Online" on his Upstate New York Genealogy blog led me quickly to the University of New Hampshire Library site for Historic USGS Maps of New England and New York.

The maps on this site are in .JPG format and are topographical maps dated from the 1890 to 1950 time frame. There are links for each state (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont) for Quad Index, Town Index, and ImageMap. If you don't know which quad that your town is in, then use the Town Index to start.

As an example, for Leominster, Massachusetts (where my Seaver ancestors lived from 1870 to 1963) there are maps for 1893, 1917, 1935, 1936, 1946, 1950, and 1954. Many towns are on more than one map because the maps are defined by latitude and longitude rather than being centered on a specific location.

These maps are very useful to me because they show:

* Topographical features at the time the map was made. For example, I can "see" the stream that ran in back of the house at 290 Central Street in Leominster.

* Viewing a series of maps shows how towns built up over time. The maps show small house symbols along the streets and roads. For example, on the 1893 map of Leominster, the Hildreth house at 149 Lancaster Street in Leominster was the last house on the right side of the road out of town. By 1936, it was nowhere near the edge of town, and many more streets had been built up.

If you are a New England or New York researcher, then this should be a "keeper" web site.

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