Maps and Genealogy


Maps are an essential part of genealogical research. As you know, political boundaries change, country names change, counties and parishes change boundaries, towns merge or are annexed. All sorts of things change.

In order to be sure that you're looking in the right place for records, you need to consult a correct map for the time period in question. If you're looking for a marriage record in Tennessee from the 1820s, for instance, the county name then may be different from what it is now. Where would the record be? In the records of the county that had jurisdiction over the area at the time!

For an interesting view of how state and territorial boundaries changed over the last two hundred years in the contiguous United States visit the Boundaries of the Contiguous United States (http://www.wwu.edu/~stephan/48states.html) on the Internet. This fascinating, animated Web site shows the changes that occurred over time.

For a comprehensive reference on county changes in the United States beginning with the 1790 census, please refer to William Thorndale and William Dollarhide's "Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses, 1790 - 1920," published by Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., of Baltimore, MD.

Do your homework by checking maps before you look for records. You'll save lots of time if you go to the right place the first time.

Written and contributed by George G. Morgan



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