UPDATED MARCH 2020: NEW! Let this FREE tool do the work for you as you search on Ancestry.com U.S. county boundaries have changed over 17,600 times since America was settled in colonial times. Don’t sabotage your search for ancestors by not knowing the correct county for the historical years you are researching. While searching on Ancestry, the free Historical U.S. Counties Auto-Checker extension for Google Chrome automatically checks that the county existed in the year you are searching, warns of boundary changes, and links to historical county lines on Google Maps for the place and years you are searching! Install … Read more
Yesterday, I released one of the most frequently requested features for the Historical U.S. County Boundary Maps tool (as a reminder, this tool lets you view on a Google Map the county boundaries as of any HISTORICAL date or year for ANY U.S. location!). The new functionality is simple but very useful: the ability to work with a much larger map in an immersive full screen experience! (Also, keep reading to learn of a couple more enhancements.) To go into fullscreen view, just hit the button in the upper right corner of the map, highlighted in redbelow. You will see a much … Read more
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!
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
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
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
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
GeoGuessr is a cool geography game that uses Google Street View. The game randomly places you all around the world, and you get points for clicking on the map as close as you can to the place you’re viewing. Sometimes you get lucky and know where you are based on some famous landmark, but very often you have to try to figure it out based on subtle clues in the scenery, roads, signs, people, flora and fauna. So far, my personal best is just over 13,000 points in one round — how high can you score?
The excellent historical blog Ephemeral New York has a post today about the 1660 Costello Plan, referred to by the New York Public Library as the “earliest known plan of New Amsterdam and the only one dating from the Dutch period.” To put the original Costello Plan into a present-day context, I’ve overlaid it on Google Earth and made these screenshots of lower Manhattan (click the images to see larger versions): North is up in this map. Look how much of present day New York would have been underwater back in 1660! Manhattan’s west coast would have been present-day Greenwich Street, … Read more