Friday, April 4, 2014

New Map Resource: New York Public Library Map Warper

Are maps important for genealogy and family history? Yes, if you want to do anything more than use the census to assemble your family lines. (Actually, they could be important for that, as well.)

If you've lived in the United States for the past 50 years or so, you might have a mistaken sense of how static boundaries and borders can be. 

Contrary to a simplistic view of history, there were not always "Fifty Nifty United States," and as the states formed, streets and cities and county and state borders changed again and again. It can be important to know how these boundaries changed over time so you understand how to find your family records.

Here, thanks to a mention from Bruce at Amateur Mormon Historian, is a new resource from the New York Public Library: Map Warper.

Not only does the website have a great wealth of maps, it also allows volunteers to rectify them, or match them to a modern map. (The amazing phenomenon of crowd sourcing.) Many of the maps that have already been rectified are of the New York City area, and one of the maps would be helpful in finding out, for example, where John Tanner's oldest son lived and practiced medicine.

Elisha Bently Tanner's first listed place of business was at 132 Liberty in Manhattan. This map shows that this address is currently by the site of the World Trade Center, just steps from the South Pool and the 9/11 Memorial.

A Google Satellite Map of the area.

Also, if you are interested in maps, don't forget the amazing David Rumsey Historical Map Collection and its MapRank Search as well as the Newberry Library Atlas of Historical County Boundaries.

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