Maps Galore

Map of Lake County, Illinois, 1861, from Library of Congress

Every genealogist, at some point or another, will need to use a map. A recent Legacy Family Tree webinar covered some online map websites with land ownership maps. The sites are worth knowing; put them in your genealogy tool box for future reference:

Library of Congress has a Map Collection which includes maps and atlases. Atlases often have histories of the counties with names of pioneer or notable residents. Take a look at these search results showing land ownership maps.

The BLM GLO Records site has two sections relating to maps and land ownership. The Land Patents section contains the digitized land patents issued by the federal government to the original owners. The Survey Plats and Land Notes describe and illustrate the boundaries and subdivisions of federal lands.

Historic Map Works is a subscription database. It has about 1.6 million maps, a combination of its own collections as well as images from libraries, academic institutions and private map collections. Even though Cook Memorial Library does not subscribe to Historic Map Works, it is usually available in the fall through the Illinois State Library’s TryIt! Illinois program. We’ll let you know when TryIt! Illinois comes around again.

David Rumsey Map Collection, on the other hand, makes all of its maps available for free. This eponymous, privately held map collection has more than 150,000 maps, 76.000 of which have been digitized. According to their website, the collection includes atlases, wall maps, globes, school geographies, pocket maps, books of exploration, maritime charts, and a variety of cartographic materials including pocket, wall, children’s, and manuscript maps. Items range in date from about 1550 to the present and cover the globe.

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