Mapping Your Ancestors
Geography is an important element in your family history research. Did your ancestor contend with mountains, valleys, or waterways? The best way to answer these questions and potentially uncover new research avenues is to take a look at maps, particularly those contemporary to the time periods with which you are researching.
- Physical maps are most helpful in determining a person’s location relative to their surroundings, including boundaries, roadways, railways, waterways, and sometimes places of interest, such as churches and schools.
- Political maps can help determine neighboring jurisdictions and that may contain records about your ancestors.
- Plat maps, in most cases, are sketches that depict property boundaries of a particular area. Many of these maps also include a variety of physical features, such as roadways, railways, waterways, schools, churches, cemeteries and landscape elements. Plat maps may also indicate the landowner for each parcel.
- Topographic maps are helpful for learning the details of a location’s landscape. These maps are helpful for determining if land features such as waterways, mountains, or valleys may have influenced your ancestor’s decision to attend a church or register a birth in a different place than you would have expected.
As with many resources, there are various ways to find and access maps. With our Skill Building: Breaking Brick Walls Course you will learn more ways to use these maps.