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

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

Viewport to 1836 New York

Explore present-day New York City with a viewport using an 1836 map. Try Swapping Views using the button in the upper right.  Link: http://goo.gl/DRXIdP Courtesy ESRI and the David Rumsey Map Collection.

Great Geo Guessing Game

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?

1660 New Amsterdam atop 2013 New York

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

Great 5 1/3 mile NYC UWS run!

For those in the great city of New York City, specifically the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and into running (ok, I just limited my global audience for this post!), I have an inspirational — or at least not monotonous — 5 1/3 mile run for you! Half of the run is in Central Park and the other half along the Hudson River Greenway.  I’m showing 74th Street and 108th Sreet as the two places to cross back and forth between the park- and water-side legs, but you can adjust your numbered blocks up and down to suit your starting … Read more

Slovenia and North Korea on top in 2012 Olympic Medal Count

While the US and China are vying for top honors in the 2012 Olympic Medal Count overall, I had been thinking that country-comparisons on total medal count is a bit unbalanced way to look at it since, well, they’re both very populous countries!  What if we account for this by weighting the medal count by population…or what about wealth? Huffington Post did just that here. As of the morning of August 2nd, it turns out that Slovenia comes out on top in population-weighted medal count: And North Korea comes out on top in GDP-weighted medal count: It will be interesting … Read more

All Our Ideas website takes crowdsourcing of ideas to the next level

Create a question, Collaborate with others, Discover the best ideas.  All Our Ideas is crowdsourcing of ideas taken to the next level:  its a website that enables groups to collect and prioritize ideas in a transparent, democratic, and bottom-up way. It’s a suggestion box for the digital age. A research project led by the Sociology Department at Princeton University, All Our Ideas is a free, open-source, platform that businesses, associations, or other informal groups could put to good use. Thanks to Keir Clarke from Google Maps Mania for pointing out the Beautiful Streets project which is a project inspired by All … Read more