©2019 by Donald R. Snow

This page was last updated 2019-11-03.
Go to the  Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group Home Page  or  Don's Class Listings Page .
ABSTRACT: There are many kinds of maps that are helpful in genealogy, e.g. road maps, physical maps, historic maps, topographical maps, county maps, land and property maps, migration maps, cemetery maps, fire insurance maps, surname distribution maps, and others. Many major collections of current and historic maps are online and can be downloaded and used for free. Gazetteers, books or websites that describe geographical items in words, are also helpful. This class will discuss such information with the links, so you can find what you need. The notes for this class and related articles, all with active Internet links, are posted on my website


  1. Instructor is Donald R. Snow ( . ) of Provo and St. George, Utah.
  2. The notes with active URLs and additional information in other notes and articles is posted at .
  3. Tips:  (1)  To put an icon on your desktop for these notes, or any webpage, just drag the icon from in front of the address in your browser onto your desktop.  (2)  To open a link, but keep your place in these notes, hold down the Control key while clicking the link.
  4. The problem for today: Finding and using online maps for family history.

  6. Maps give a visual representation of information in compact form, e.g. locations, distances, relationships of places, geographical features
  7. Kinds of maps -- teaching, road, topological (contours or level lines close together = steep, further apart = flatter), land and property, railroad, fire insurance, migration, historical, boundary changes, cemetery, surname distribution, relief maps (3D models in plastic, etc.), aerial, and "bird's eye view" (aerial at a slant)
  8. GPS -- helpful in family history for locations; many cameras have them now, so metadata shows exactly where the photo was taken
  9. Gazetteers are books or websites describing in words the geographic locations and features and their history.

  11. Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names Online -- -- extremely helpful world gazetteer; as an example, search for Ragtown and read about the first one you find in Nevada 
  12. David Rumsey Map Collection -- -- large collection of historical maps, now at Stanford University; are constantly adding new maps  
  13. Perry-Castaneda Map Collection at U of Texas -- and
  14. New York Public Library Digital Collection --
  15. Library of Congress Map Collection --
  16. National Geographic Maps -- 

  18. See lists by state in -- see Maps and Gazetteers in Statewide Resources and for the counties 
  19. US Geological Survey (USGS) --
  20. US National Map by USGS -- -- a major website with many helps and links, includes topos, historic, and aerial views
  21. National Atlas by the Library of Congress-- -- many printable maps
  22. US historical
    1. Growth of the US - 11-minute online video -- -- 1-minute quick video of U.S. growth --
    2. US county boundary changes over time - interactive -- -- based on old Animap program
    3. US state and county boundary changes over time - interactive -- -- can download the maps with instructions on overlaying them on Google Earth
    4. Early US Maps --
    5. Historical Map and Chart Collection -- -- Office of Coast Survey (NOAA)
    6. Historic Land Ownership and Reference Atlases ($$$, but free at FHCs) -- 
    7. MyTopo map collection -- -- Historic USGS topo maps
    8. Historic and bird's eye view maps, primarily New England ($$$, some free) --   
  23. Sanborn Fire Insurance maps
    1. Search Linkpendium (see above) for Sanborn maps
    2. Finding free Sanborn Maps online --
    3. Union List of Sanborn Maps, UC Berkeley --  
    4. Sanborn Fire Insurance maps in Library of Congress -- 


  24. Links to map collections, many at colleges and universities --
  25. Steve Morse's One-Step Road And Aerial Views by address or lat/long -- 
  26. Map Your Ancestors - FamilySearch -- 
  27. Visualize Your Ancestors With RootsMapper -- 
  28. England and Wales 1851 Jurisdictions maps -- -- shows parishes, locations, information, probate courts, links; interactive and can be used like a gazetteer
  29. Samuel Lewis' Topographical Dictionary (Gazetteer) of England of 1848 (4 vols) -- 
  30. Old Maps Online --  
  31. Surname distribution maps
    1. FamilySearch --  and 
    3. GenealogyBlog -- 
  32. LDS Church:  Bible Maps -- , Church History Maps --
  33. Map that Don made around the London England Hyde Park Chapel - Click Here  

  35. FamilySearch Research Wiki for maps of a country -- > Search > Research Wiki > Country > Maps   
  36. FamilySearch Wiki article about U.S. gazetteers --
  37. 8-minute video on using maps - Ancestry -- The Sayre's -- 
  38. Helps with maps -- 

  40. There is a wealth of maps and information online and more being added all the time and these notes will give you a place to start to find what you need.
  41. Another class will discuss how to make your own maps using Google's "My Maps" for migrations, where you have lived, where your ancestors are from, etc.

Go to the Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group Home Page or Don's Class Listings Page .