Friday, June 24, 2016

Website: David Rumsey Map Collection

When it comes to researching one's ancestors, old maps of the area become very important in trying to locate where they were living and where those records may be located today. The David Rumsey collection started over 30 years ago and has more than 150,000 maps. 

From their site they state, "The collection focuses on rare 16th through 21st century maps of North and South America, as well as maps of the World, Asia, Africa, Europe, and Oceania." To learn more about their collection click here.

Most people know of at least one location that has changed its name and its boundaries. Over time as various countries grew they would create a new counties and move towns and cities into those new counties causing boundary changes as new lands were acquired over time. There are detailed maps for each state along with regions like New England, MountainWest, Pacific, etc.

When a boundary changes it has the ripple effect of where vital events are recorded for those new areas and what happens to the older records that were recorded for those areas before the changes?

This author has seen these records handled a variety of ways while researching various individuals. Some places take over the books and so the records stay with the new county or town or city and other times the records are moved to another location completely, either way, a researcher will have to ask and locate whatever records needed for their client. 

Their "Georeferencer" tool allows and individual to overlay historic maps on modern maps or other historical maps, a great feature to help you understand boundary changes as well as other changes over time. Their short video will show you how this works.

To locate a map, you launch their "Luna Browser" and use the search box in the upper left hand corner to type in the place you are researching. The response from this site will be what they have on that location. Once you locate the one you wish to view, simply click the map and it will open up into its own browser where you can enlarge it and move it around as necessary. For example here is a map from 25 March 1776:

This is one of the best map sites for locating old maps and being able to manipulate them for viewing purposes. By creating an account on this site it saves your searches for future reference, there is no charge for registering. An interesting and helpful fact is when one looks up a specific place, you are told how many maps for that area are available as well as those surrounding that location. For example, if you are searching for an early map of Colorado, you learn that there are 305 maps for this area beginning in 1861. On the left are totals of the number of maps for the surronding states, Utah, New Mexio and Arizona.

Take advantage of this wonderful resource when needing maps for your research.

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