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<November 2015>

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# Friday, June 12, 2015
Genealogy News Corral: June 8-12
Posted by Diane

FamilySearch | Genealogy Events | Genealogy Web Sites | Maps
Friday, June 12, 2015 1:35:27 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Using Old Maps to Answer My Genealogy Question
Posted by Diane

Genealogists love old maps. I could browse the David Rumsey Map Collection for days. But maps are more than cool to look at.

In our Use Historical Maps to Solve Research Problems webinar on Tuesday, April 28, D. Joshua Taylor will show you how to use maps as tools to figure out questions such as migrations, boundary changes, birthplace locations and more. (You might remember Josh as one of the hosts of "Genealogy Roadshow.")

Here's how old maps helped me figure out a family migration (albeit a short one) that I didn't realize had happened:

Awhile ago, I found my great-great-grandfather H.A. Seeger's May 28, 1879, mortgage record for the property at the corner of Abigail and Pendleton streets in Cincinnati.

Cincinnati (1884), Plan of Cincinnati and Vicinity by S. Augustus Mitchell, David Rumsey Map Collection

This was, I thought, the corner cigar store his family owned into the 1950s, the one my mom remembers visiting as a child, and which in the early 1980s still bore the outline of its "H.A. Seeger Cigar Manufacturer" sign. Here's its location on a Sanborn Fire Insurance Map in 1904:

Insurance Maps of Cincinnati (1904), Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Virtual Library

The street has been renamed and buildings renumbered over the years; my address timeline (taken from old records such as city directories and censuses) includes: 
  • 112 Abigail in 1879
  • 124 Abigail in 1882
  • 434 Abigail in 1896
  • 434 E. 12th in 1900
But then I found a Cincinnati Enquirer newspaper notice from June 4, 1890, of an estate sale for that building. It was part of the estate of Joseph Otten, named grantor in that 1879 mortgage along with his wife Agnes.

How could the place be up for sale, when my ancestors lived there at the time and continued to live there later?

The Ottens' wills offered no explanation, and I couldn't find evidence that H.A. Seeger purchased the property from Otten's estate.

But on this 1891 Sanborn Fire Insurance map (published closer to the time of my ancestor's property purchase), I noted a building numbered 112 six doors down from number 124 on the corner.

Sanborn Historic Maps (1891), OhioLINK Digital Resource Commons (must be an Ohio resident or have an Ohio public library card)

So my family lived at 112 Abigail from 1879 to 1882, then they moved down the street. This probably occurred to some of you—I guess it goes to show how a family story can give you genealogical blinders. The maps helped me take off my blinders.

As confirmation, I found lot numbers on this 1869 atlas:

Cincinnati part VI embracing 9th & 13th wards (1869), Titus' Atlas of Hamilton Co., Ohio From Actual Surveys by R.H. Harrison, C.E. ... , David Rumsey Map Collection

The map doesn't have building numbers, but matching it up with the 1891 Sanborn map showsthe building at 112 Abigail is on lot no. 29, the one referenced in the 1879 mortgage record. The cigar store is lot number 23. Now my genealogy to-do list includes looking for a deed for that lot (as well as re-reading the 1879 mortgage to better understand the transaction).

The cigar store has since been combined with the building on the back of the lot, as I learned from the Hamilton County Auditor site and Google Maps, and the front door relocated to the side street. 

In the Use Historical Maps to Solve Research Problems webinar, Taylor will cover map resources and tech tools that help you make the most of maps, as well as give examples for solving problems. Learn more about the webinar in

Maps | Research Tips | Webinars
Wednesday, April 22, 2015 12:34:57 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
# Tuesday, March 03, 2015
Tips for Using the Free David Rumsey Historical Maps Website
Posted by Diane

Old maps can help you locate an ancestor's hometown and bring it to life. Comparing maps of a place published over time can help you see changing borders and jurisdictions.

One of the historical map resources you can learn more about in our Historical Maps of Europe Premium Collection is the David Rumsey Map Collection website, which I used recently to find maps of my great-great-grandfather's birthplace: Steinfeld, Germany.

Here, I'll share a few tips that might make it easier for you to find maps of your ancestral places:
  • Try to find out as much as you can about your ancestral hometown. The names of the country, state, district, other geographical divisions, and/or nearby towns are clues to help you find the right place on a map. And a county, district, or other towns might share the name of your ancestral town. Other Steinfelds in Germany are in the districts of Main-Spessart, Bavaria; Stendal, Saxony-Anhalt; Schleswig-Flensburg, Schleswig-Holstein; and others. I want Steinfeld, Vechta, Lower Saxony (aka Niedersachsen).  It's near the city of Oldenburg, and today it's often written as Steinfeld (Oldenburg).
  • Search for maps using the search box at top right. The site search box located below that looks at web pages and blog articles, not the maps collection.

  • Search not only for your ancestral town, but also for nearby towns and other geographical divisions. Not every place named on a map is part of the site's search: Searching for Steinfeld gets no results. But searching for Vechta found this highly detailed map (with a legend here) that includes large-farm names, churches, windmills, meadows and more:

    Vechta, Reichsamt fur Landesaufnahme, 1904

Lower Saxony found this:

Lower Saxony, D. Lizars, Edinburgh, 1831

Oldenburg found this:

Nordwestiches Deutschland, Justus Perthes, Gotha, 1821

There's a lot more you can do with these maps, including georeference with a modern map so you can see an overlay, download hi-res versions, order professional prints, and import into Google Earth.

Historical Maps of Europe Premium Collection

Get tips for using this and other online map resources, plus The Family Tree Historical Maps Book: Europe and other map goodies in the Historical Maps of Europe Premium Collection. Find out more about it in!

German roots | Maps | Research Tips
Tuesday, March 03, 2015 1:30:44 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [2]
# Thursday, November 06, 2014
Cool Ways to Map Your Family History With Google Earth
Posted by Diane

We genealogists are always trying to think of ways to put together our family history research—photos, documents, stories and historical background—into a project or presentation that sums it all up for relatives (and for ourselves).

This video from Lisa Louise Cooke, instructor of this month's Map Your Family History With Google Earth workshop (coming up Monday, Nov. 17-Nov. 24), shows you the kind of project you can create by incorporating old maps, documents, photos and videos into the free Google Earth mapping software. 

You can use your Google Earth family history map to help you visualize the places where your ancestors lived and migrated—a great tool for place-based genealogy research. And your relatives can explore their family history in an interesting and easy way, just by clicking around the map.

Here's what's included in the Map Your Family History With Google Earth Workshop

  • two video classes, which you can download to watch again as often as you like, even after the conference
  • six step-by-step lessons on Google Earth and locating your ancestral town
  • consultations with Google Earth expert Lisa Louise Cooke via the exclusive conference message board
  • message board for networking with other conference participants
  • convenience of accessing the workshop materials and message board whenever you have time during the week, wherever you have internet access

The Map Your Family History With Google Earth workshop starts Monday, Nov. 17. Learn more about it and register at

Family Tree University | Maps | Research Tips
Thursday, November 06, 2014 9:13:29 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Friday, April 04, 2014
View and "Warp" Old Maps Using NYPL's New, Free Map Warper
Posted by Diane

The New York Public Library (NYPL) has launched a new online tool called the Map Warper, which lets you overlay an old map onto a modern map and digitally rectify the two. 

The Map Warper gives you access to more than 20,000 digitized historical maps depicting places around the world. You don't need to log in to view maps, overlay them, or see already-rectified versions. With an account, you can add your own "control points," which are points that match up on the old map and the corresponding modern map. A map must have at least three control points to be rectified.

I searched for a map of Cincinnati and found one from 1860.

NYPL Map Warper

I created an NYPL account and used the Rectify tab to add a control point where my Ladenkotter third-great-grandparents lived in 1860. The map already had other control points, so I added only the one.

NYPL Map Warper

Then I clicked Warp Image, let the Warper finished working, and clicked Preview Rectified Map:

NYPL Map Warper

You can zoom in and adjust the transparency. Here's a closeup of where the Ladenkotters lived, at Abigail (spelled "Abagail" here; it's now E. 12th) and Spring. It's just below and to the right of the 9.

NYPL Map Warper

You can click the Export tab to download a copy of the original or warped map.

The Map Warper website also has a four-minute video tutorial on using the Warper.

Libraries and Archives | Maps
Friday, April 04, 2014 10:30:27 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [0]
# Tuesday, December 10, 2013
New: Place My Past Website Maps Your Family Tree
Posted by Diane

A new website called Place My Past (currently accessible to those who are invited) looks to be a hybrid of a family tree site, a mapping site and a social network.

Depending on your membership level, Place My Past lets you explore places and events using map tools; upload, share and view historical maps; trace your family's geographic roots; and explore their movements over time.

Users sign into the site with a MyHeritage account (so you'll need to create a tree on MyHeritage if you don't have one) and the site will import and plot your family tree on its map.

Although it's open by invitation only right now, you can ask to be notified by email when the site officially launches.

To give you an idea of what the site does, Place My Past created this US map with events from the Kennedy family tree.

When I clicked on Lancaster, Pa., a little pop-up had a city profile and gave me a link to view family events there.

Besides Events, you also could see media attached to that location and others following it.

Explore the site here, or take a tour (with comments pointing out features and tools).

There are three levels of Place My Past registration: 

  • A free Guest registration lets you view the site's main map with location details and "anonymized" information about people and events
  • A free Member can upload family trees; add and update people, places and events; and view public information from other members.
  • For $4 per month (billed as $48 per year), Subscribing members can view family migrations; upload and share historical maps; follow people, places and events; and connect with other members.

Love old maps? Learn five ways to use old maps to solve genealogy research problems in our webinar Five Ways to Enhance Your Genealogy Research With Old Maps, taking place this Thursday, Dec. 12, with Lisa Louise Cooke.

Genealogy Web Sites | MyHeritage | Social Networking | Maps
Tuesday, December 10, 2013 1:42:56 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #  Comments [1]