Wednesday, 7 May 2014

You are here.... X

Following yesterday’s article on Directories, the next logical step is maps. Old maps, new maps, local maps, world maps survey maps, streetcar maps, railroad maps. People have been drawing maps of one kind or another since the beginning of time.

Once you have found in the Directory the address where your ancestor lived, you surf on over to google maps, search the address and switch to street view to see your ancestor’s house. PrintScreen (hoping there is no modern car parked out front, or a funky lady walking her dog) and voila! Lucky you!  But that doesn’t work in all cases.  Taking yesterday’s example of my grandfather living in Montreal, I didn’t find his address right away in the directory. Why? The numbers only went to 89 and the postcard to my grandfather was addressed to number 102. I had to go ahead to another year that showed the new numbers, see who lived there, then go back to the other years and see where Mrs Dixon lived.  Aha!  Number 52.  Renumbered to 102. The street was not lengthened, as both directories had the street going between the same cross streets, so most probably new buildings went up in between the old.

Searching google maps for where another ancestor lived, I had the opposite problem.  So, what if the street your ancestor lived on is not even there? Or cut short to put in a freeway? This is where Google Earth does its thing!  This program is a great genealogical tool and well worth spending the time to learn all it can do. It is preloaded with many historical maps from the Rumsey Collection. If the map you need for the years you want is not there, you can load in one you find.  It overlays on the present map, then you wander through the streets looking for the one you know your ancestor lived on (no search available for old maps, although some may have a key, like Main Street go to K4.). Ahhhh, okay… now I see Main Street has been renamed John Doe Boulevard, and he lived between 1st and 2nd Avenue.   

This is a map of Kingston, Ontario that I uploaded to Google Earth and found where my ancestors lived and worked. In todays maps I could not find the address where my ancestor lived, but with the help of this map from 1900 I found where X marks the spot!.


With Google Earth you can not only see where your ancestor lived, but his family and friends, where he worked, where they moved to, etc and add pushpins (or other markers), you can embed videos and photographs – making a whole presentation!    

For more information Eric Stitt has a blog titled Genealogy through Google Earth. Also Lisa Louise Cooke has put together a Webinar on Using Google Earth for Genealogy, and I urge you to watch out for a re-broadcasting (see list of Webinar locations on the right).

Relevant Links

Google Earth

The Rumsey Collection

Maps of Quebec

Maps of Ontario

The map I used here – Detailed Map of Kingston 1900 (DejaVu) 

Historical maps of Western Canada

Find Canadian address by Township and Range

Historical Maps of US Cities 

Historical maps of Scotland

Info on historical maps of England

GenMaps– England, Wales and Scotland

Some England maps and London  

Vancouver Island Maps

Australia Parish Maps 

Survey of the high roads of England and Wales; part the first 1817 


  1. Yes maps, have gone to maps to 'center' myself with many an ancestor. One of the best treasures I have is an overhead Google map with the buildings marked where my Great-grandfather Harrison and the family owned a garden nursery and green grocers.
    It was sent to me by a woman that saw an inquiry on Ancestry asking about the Lostock Parsonage Nursery (Lancashire UK). Since then I have gone there and walked with the Little Yellow Man (Google) around the area. Cannot get to the buildings as the cameras did not go there, but at least have a feel for where my paternal grandparents lived when they immigrated to Canada in 1907. Hoping to at least to pass though the area in real life in about 12-13 days :D
    When I was learning about my in-aw ancestors that lived in Griffintown and the Point, an old map helped to show exactly where they all lived. There too I walked with the Little Yellow Man and in real life.
    Maps can lead to some of the best adventures :D

  2. Thank heaven for digital photography, you can take lots of photos on your trip and share with us.


Leave me a note to tell me you were here! Thanks for visiting.
Your email address will not be published.

No time to write a comment? Check the Like button above.

By joining our Facebook group you get other genealogy news from time to time, and you can download pages of links that go with the posts. Use follow buttons at top right under search bar.

Copyright © Genealogy: Beyond the BMD
Division of Dianne at Home