When uncovering family history, it used to take years to discover old maps and to go through county records to find old homesteads and land claims. Maps of the US have changed greatly over the last 200 years, and with each new US map, roads change and county lines shift, making it difficult to track down information and confirm old family tales.
Now many of the maps have gone digital, making it easier to sift through the changes of the centuries to find what you are looking for. For example, the earliest US map we have dates from 1643, over a hundred years before the revolution, the year that Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, Connecticut, and New Harbor formed the United Colonies of New England. This map the original county lines and hitting the play button allows the viewer to watch as history unfolds in front of them.
From all over the continental US, our maps can help you find the foothold you need in discovering where you come from. The historical atlas maps allow you to look at history through the lens of those who lived it. Starting in 1776, all of our atlases are scanned copies of the originals, with the original spelling of town names and counties allowing historians and genealogists to find the answers that they are seeking. For example, for 1776 the US map of Massachusetts shows the original names of many of the islands in the area, before they were shortened or modernized.
All of our maps are free for personal use only, and may not be reproduced for resale or distribution. Along with property records, census data, and birth, marriage, and death certificates, a historical US map provides valuable information and can help genealogists uncover their family histories and connect with the past. While the historical maps on this site can help researchers, there are many other types of maps that are used for this type of research including: political maps, surveys, plat maps, land maps, ward maps, and more. Each one offers different information about the time period in which it was created.
A political US map, for example, would show the townships and county lines that existed at that time. These can help researchers to determine which county their search can begin in. Land maps show who owned which properties in the area at that time, allowing researchers to narrow down the scope of their search. Ward maps show the different wards of large cities, and researchers can discover old buildings and addresses lost over the years.
With many US maps going digital, the ability of the family historian or genealogist to discover long-lost family history or new branches of the family tree has become considerably easier. Instead of traveling across the country, tracking down old, frail copies of maps and records, this information is available at the click of a button. And with that, new avenues of research and historical preservation are opened up. Maps and atlases that were degrading over time are preserved electronically. From Arkansas to Utah, to Colorado to Washington, maps from all over the continental United States are accessible for all who wish to view them, here at MapofUS.org. From 1643 to the present, there is a US map preserved in all its glory.