© 2020 by Roots & Wings Research, LLC

  • Kristin Wenger

Tuesday Tip: 3 Must-Try Map Tools

In my last blog post, maps played an important role in connecting me to my family history.

Today's tip features three of my favorite map tools:


1. Historic Map Works


Try this: once you’ve selected the historic map of interest, scroll down below the map and click on “Historic Earth Basic (free).” This tool enables an overlay feature to combine historic and current day maps. Use the “Map Opacity” slider on the right to find the needed balance for optimal viewing. I cannot say enough about this feature for both land ownership research and understanding the history of your area of interest.


Note: These maps are copyrighted, so you must purchase the downloads for any type of professional use or reproduction (as I did for the 1875 Warwick Township map above). However, you can use it in your personal research or at no cost.


2. Google Earth Pro


Note: This tool is a free download, not a website, so you will need to download it before you can see what it has to offer.


Try this: There are so many options to explore. Add pins to a map, create a sightseeing tour, even use movie maker to zoom in from a view of earth from space to your exact pinned locations.


3. Atlas of Historical County Boundaries


Note: To find offline records housed in local repositories, you have to know where to look. Many documents are stored in county archives. But as the colonies and then United States grew, counties changed. For example, prior to 1729, what is now Lancaster County was part of Chester County. I assisted a client a few weeks ago who was searching for ancestors who were in this area prior to 1743. It was important to know that the records he was looking for might be housed in Chester County rather than Lancaster County.


Try this: Select your state from the map. Then choose “View Interactive Map.” Use the “Historical Borders” date options to view the counties for a particular time period.