Saturday, 14 September 2013

How can maps help you with your family history research?

I love maps and can spend hours just looking at a good map, but how have I used maps to aid researching my family tree...?

1610 Map of Lancashire (Image link:, Author: Hondius; John Speed, 1610)

  • With Google Maps I look up the addresses my ancestors are recorded residing at (addresses are on census returns and birth, marriage & death certificates). Your address search may not find anything if the street no longer exists, but if you are lucky you can find the street and then using the Streetview orange man you can virtually walk down the streets your ancestors may have walked down, you might even be able to find the house in which your ancestor lived. NB House numbers may have changed along the street at some point in history so may not line up with the direct address on the census returns.
  • Alan Godfrey Maps & Cassini Maps have reprinted old Ordnance Survey maps of many towns and cities throughout the UK which are sold on their own websites and also in local bookshops, Information Centres and on Amazon (Godfrey maps & Cassini Maps). I love these little maps as I can lay them out on a table and highlight where my ancestors lived, worked, went to church or were educated. These maps will tell you a lot about the community your family lived in, from knowing where their local church, schools, industries were to the types of housing, terraced, detached, farms, town houses, back to back housing, tenements or stately mansions your ancestors may have resided in. By looking at old maps from different years of print you can establish how towns and cities became built up over periods of time.

Copyright © 2013 Ruth Hogan

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