Free online versions of my recent Family Tree Magazine articles

In my last post, I mentioned my recent articles I wrote for Family Tree Magazine.  There are now slightly modified free versions of the articles available on their website. The “Moving Targets” article is recast as “How to Use Old Maps to Find Missing Ancestors“, and my case study is found as “How to Use Old Maps & City Directories to Research House History“. I hope you enjoy the articles!

randymajors.org website and I featured in Family Tree Magazine

Many thanks to Family Tree Magazine for featuring me in their May/June 2017 “5 Questions” Q&A column, part of their regular “Genealogy Insider” section.  In other news: Who knew I was an insider? :) It was also great fun co-authoring an article with Sunny Jane Morton in the same issue of the magazine.  Previewed on the cover as “4 Ways to Find Ancestors with Old Maps”, the 8-page feature article beginning on page 48 is called “Moving Targets” and provides genealogy research suggestions for what to do when the ancestor you are researching apparently falls off the map. The article … Read more

History buffs: With one click, see a timeline of every county, state and country the spot where you’re standing has ever been a part of.

Just type in your address or city in the box at www.randymajors.org/maps, type a year as late as 2000, then click Go! County boundaries as of your chosen year will appear.  (Sorry for those outside the United States — this only works for U.S. locations) Now, find the check box just below the map, and click it. Sit back and travel back in time through every county, state, territory and country your red marker location ( ) has been a part of!  See the example below showing Durango, Colorado — part of La Plata County, Colorado today — all the … Read more

User-suggested Enhancements to AncestorSearch: Google Custom Search

With the popularity of my AncestorSearch using Google Custom Search tool (as of July 2019, over 115,000 hits and climbing), I was overdue in making some enhancements suggested by users of the tool. If you haven’t used it lately, as a reminder, AncestorSearch “builds a better, genealogy-specific Google search using terms you fill into blanks,” to quote Family Tree Magazine.  (Thank you once again Family Tree Magazine for the great honor of listing AncestorSearch and my Historical Maps tools in your ranking of the Top 101 Best Websites for Genealogy in 2016!) The two key enhancements are highlighted in the … Read more

A couple of enhancements to the Historical U.S. County Boundary Maps tool — and a thank you!

I’ve recently made a couple of enhancements to the Historical U.S. County Boundary Maps tool that make it easier to read and see the results of the search (see screenshot below). Thank you, The Family Nexus, for your article that had very nice things to say about the tool, and also made me aware that the text was a tad small. Another enhancement is the addition of a little “maximize” button above the “Go!” button that expands the map window for much easier viewing (see the little square in the top right of the above screenshot). Finally, one last enhancement is … Read more

Take me to the tools

Looking at search statistics on my websites, it seems the vast majority of people who visit this site are looking for a few tools I’ve created.  So this post is simply to make it easy to find those tools, starting with the most popular: AncestorSearch using Google Custom Search Searches using the full power of Google, and automatically applies advanced Google search techniques so you’re much more likely to find mentions of ancestors that are otherwise buried in thousands of Google search results.  Great for genealogy and also searching for living people.  Linked to by over 100 professional and amateur genealogy sites, … Read more

AncestorSearch and the Historical Google Maps tools are back in action!

Sorry for the site outage the last 24 hours or so. A blogger.com configuration change triggered it, but all is back in working order now: AncestorSearch using Google Custom Search: searches using the full power of Google, and then filters exceptionally well so you’re more likely to find mentions of ancestors you otherwise might miss buried in thousands of Google search results.  Many people are surprised at what AncestorSearch finds, even for ancestors that they had searched for exhaustively over the years. Historical U.S. County Boundary Maps interactive tool: find the correct U.S. jurisdictions for the place and historical timeframe … Read more

Genealogy falling, Ancestry rising

About 7 months ago, genealogy blogger James Tanner wrote about Google search trends showing a possible decline in the popularity of genealogy. Viewing the comments, some people speculated that perhaps people were getting better at doing Google searches by searching directly for people and places in their family history rather than just typing the word “genealogy” into Google. I speculate that is likely true; I also suspect people are using more specialized searches on sites such as Ancestry.com rather than just using Google.* However, another idea occurred to me today, and that is that perhaps the word genealogy itself is … Read more

What do courthouses, cemeteries, churches, and libraries have in common?

Well, for the genealogist and historical researcher, they’re all great places to look for historical sources and information on ancestors, historical figures, or the local area.  And they’ve recently been incorporated into my Historical U.S. County Boundary Maps tool!  Just check the “Show Research Locations” checkbox and then select which categories you want to show, and symbols will appear on the map: Then, you can click an icon, and an info window will appear: The name of the place and the Website are both hyperlinks, which will open up a Google Places page for more information on the place: I’ve … Read more