Which U.S. states have which levels of local government…and why should I care?

This topic is more complicated than it sounds, so I’ll attempt to keep it high level. Whether you’re doing present-day or historical research about a place, it’s important to know which levels of local government exist in the state you are researching (e.g. counties, cities, townships).  Why should you care? It may determine which place houses the records you’re looking for The exact location often determines which local taxes are levied and which local laws are applicable  It determines who has jurisdiction for a given location (e.g. police, sheriff, etc.) In addition to providing some definitions, I’ll also point you … Read more

So…what is randymajors.org Research Hub anyway?

randymajors.com Research Hub homepage

“So what is your website all about?”  I increasingly get asked some form of this question about randymajors.org Research Hub. A BRIEF BACKSTORY:  Back in 2006-2010, the randymajors.org website was a fairly small collection of blog posts about family history plus some of my photography.  Then, in 2011 I launched the AncestorSearch on Google Search and Historical U.S. Counties on Google Maps tools primarily aimed at genealogy and historical research. FAST FORWARD TO 2018:  I decided to broaden the appeal of the mapping and search tools to a more general audience by launching the present-day County Lines on Google Maps tool.  I continued to … Read more

Now you can get access to an AD-FREE version of AncestorSearch on Google Search too!

Back in December, I announced a way to get access to all of the map tools AD-FREE and FULL-SCREEN. I’m pleased to announce an AD-FREE option is now available for AncestorSearch on Google Search as well! The functionality is identical, but with no ads: The ad-free versions of the map and search tools are formatted to work equally well on your smartphone or tablet too! All the details are on this page:  NEW:  Enjoy ALL of the map and search tools AD-FREE and FULL-SCREEN! GOOD NEWS:  If you have already signed up for access to the ad-free map tools, you now … Read more

Use your smartphone to instantly know what City, Township and County you are currently in

Have you tried the What County Am I In? tool?  Using your smartphone, it quickly lets you know what county you are currently in…as in where you are standing or sitting right now. And now, the What County Am I In? tool has been enhanced to also let you know what city you are in (if you are inside incorporated city limits), and what township you are in (if you are in a township). When you go to the tool’s web page (https://www.randymajors.org/what-county-am-i-in), you’ll see a map like the following, and the listing of the city, township and county you … Read more

County info added to Section Township Range on Google Maps tool, plus a tip for historical county research

Sometimes it’s hard to determine where you are when using Section, Township and Range Maps.  So to help provide more geographic context when searching for a land parcel, county information has now been added to the Section Township Range on Google Maps tool. For example, let’s do the following “Find parcel” at the bottom of the map: That will show the following map, now including the county name on top as well as dashed gray lines for the county boundaries, like this: Note the county name shown in the upper right (highlighted with the red box above), and the county line … Read more

Enjoy ALL of the map and search tools AD-FREE and FULLSCREEN!

Over the years, I’ve had lots of requests for a way to subscribe to the map and search tools on randymajors.org rather than having advertisements displayed. This has been a challenge, as I want to keep the tools free of charge for everyone to use, and the advertising helps offset the significant costs associated with the development and operation of the tools. I’m excited to say that you now have an opportunity to choose what works best for you:      Free map tools supported by advertising (left/top), AD-FREE FULLSCREEN map and search tools (right/bottom) The above screenshots are from … Read more

Check out the new Custom Maps on Google Maps tool

The new Custom Maps on Google Maps makes it easy to create your own custom Google Map using any combination of ZIP Codes, counties, cities and more! You can use this tool to quickly create: sales territory maps delivery area maps service area maps …all on Google Maps! If your territory is composed of dozens of ZIP Codes, you can choose to ‘merge’ them to show an overall territory boundary.  Then, add your own title to the map, and even choose colors. An example link you create looks like this: https://www.randymajors.org/customgmap?mapbuilder=true&zips=10023,10024,10025,10026&zipboundary=show&title=My+Service+Territory The resulting map would look something like this: Be … Read more

New tool shows what county you are in right now

“What county am I in?” That’s one of the most common Google search terms that people use where randymajors.org appears in Google’s search results page. Given that’s evidently a popular query, I thought I’d make it easy for people to immediately get the answer to their question.  Just go to this page: www.randymajors.org/what-county-am-i-in Or even easier, you can just click this to see what county you’re currently in: what-county-am-i-in.com You’ll get a map with the answer at the top, like this: TIP:  If you’re traveling about and already have the map open, you can just click the “⊕ Locate” button in … Read more

A quick update on the increased speed of the mapping tools

After some infrastructure upgrades, all of the randymajors.org mapping tools are now operating faster!  In my time tests, I was seeing drawing speeds that were 2.5x to 3x faster than before the upgrade. The very largest of map layers, such as Section Township Range on Google Maps, seem to see the biggest improvement (drawing in 5-6 seconds now vs 25-30 seconds before the upgrade), although other layers such as Historical Counties, County Lines and ZIP Codes also drew about 2x faster that before. So you should on average see the information panel above the maps update a bit faster and … Read more

Overlay present-day county lines on the Historical U.S. Counties on Google Maps tool

Based on an idea from a current user (thanks Steve!), there’s now an option to overlay present-day county lines on top of historical county lines. This gives you the ability to see at a glance if you’re researching in an area and timeframe where the county lines have shifted between the historical date you’re viewing and the present-day.  To use this feature, just check the “Also show present-day county lines” checkbox in the lower left of the map on the Historical U.S. Counties on Google Maps tool.  When you check that box, you’ll see thin red lines (present-day county lines) … Read more