Friday, May 13, 2011

CVGS Research Group Summary - 11 May 2011

We had 18 attendees (a record, I think) at the 11 May 2011 meeting of the CVGS Research Group.  It was a lively group with lots of sharing and many questions (with answers!).

After introductions around the table, Randy Seaver made a 30 minute presentation on Maps and Atlases, and their use in genealogy and family history research.  Using maps helps us find the residences of our ancestral families, help us determine jurisdictional location, help us understand the terrain where our families lived, and help us determine possible migration paths.  Useful books, useful free and commercial map websites, and Google Maps and the Earthpoint site were covered.

Several attendees expounded on how maps have helped their research:

*  Bobbie brought a plat map of Lake county, Illinois that helped her sort out neighbors of her Titus family.
*  Myrna advised "grad and keep maps wherever you find them" and told us about some of her colonial town, cemetery and town cadastral maps.  She noted that many historical societies have large cadastral maps on their walls or in their vertical files.
*  Karen shared some Maryland Eastern Shore maps with family names that she found in a historical society and a maritime museum.

*  Steve had a "Germania" map from the mid-1700s that he used to find ancestral towns.

Several question were asked about maps:

*  Where can one find European, Canadian and United Kingdom maps?  The group suggested sites for the countries, specific country archives and historical/genealogical societies, and the  Research Wiki.  For English parish maps, try the English Jurisdictions 1851 website.  Google Maps ( shows the road view, some street-level views, and the satellite view, for many settled places, especially in North America and Europe. 

*  How often does Google update their maps?  The group noted that the road and satellite views are updated regularly, but Street Views only occasionally.

*  How should we handle historical place names in our research and in our software?  The group stated that place names for events should reflect the jurisdiction at the time of the event.  However, the current software programs access Google Maps or Bing Maps, or similar, which reflect only current jurisdictions.  This can be a problem for historical place names that have changed jurisdictions.  The suggestion was made to use the current place name, but add the historical jurisdiction in your event or research notes and in the event description field.

If CVGS members want a copy of the handout from Randy's presentation, please contact him at

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