Showing posts with label Google Maps. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Google Maps. Show all posts

29 March 2014

AncestorSearch and the Historical Google Maps tools are back in action!

Sorry for the site outage the last 24 hours or so. A blogger.com configuration change triggered it, but all is back in working order now:

AncestorSearch using Google Custom Search: searches using the full power of Google, and then filters exceptionally well so you're more likely to find mentions of ancestors you otherwise might miss buried in thousands of Google search results.  Many people are surprised at what AncestorSearch finds, even for ancestors that they had searched for exhaustively over the years.

Historical U.S. County Boundary Maps interactive tool: find the correct U.S. jurisdictions for the place and historical timeframe you're researching.  Then, overlay research locations on the map such as courthouses, cemeteries, churches, and libraries, and link right to them for more information.

Historical World Political Boundary Maps interactive tool: find the correct world country boundaries for the place and historical timeframe you're researching

Let me know in the Comments if you're having any problems with accessing these.

Also, many thanks to all the past mentions of how these tools have helped in your research!  Hearing of your discoveries makes it well worth the time and effort it takes to create and maintain these tools.


22 September 2013

Great Geo Guessing Game

GeoGuessr is a cool geography game that uses Google Street View.  The game randomly places you all around the world, and you get points for clicking on the map as close as you can to the place you're viewing.  Sometimes you get lucky and know where you are based on some famous landmark, but very often you have to try to figure it out based on subtle clues in the scenery, roads, signs, people, flora and fauna.  So far, my personal best is just over 13,000 points in one round -- how high can you score?




18 April 2013

Boston Marathon Bombing: Map showing the Location and Time-stamp of the Surveillance Video of the Suspects

See video here
The Boston Marathon Bombing was a cowardly act, and we all want to see justice served to those responsible.

Now that the FBI has released details of the bombing suspects, I decided to create a map that shows the likely location and timing of the of the surveillance video of the suspects, in hopes that somebody who was nearby at the time may have noticed them.


If you have any information at all regarding the men shown in the attached photos and video, you should immediately submit them on https://bostonmarathontips.fbi.gov. As the FBI website states, no piece of information or detail is too small. You can also call 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324), prompt #3, with information.
Click above for a bigger view, or see the interactive map here.  Source for locations of explosions is this New York Times page.

18 February 2012

All Our Ideas website takes crowdsourcing of ideas to the next level

Create a question, Collaborate with others, Discover the best ideas.  All Our Ideas is crowdsourcing of ideas taken to the next level:  its a website that enables groups to collect and prioritize ideas in a transparent, democratic, and bottom-up way. It’s a suggestion box for the digital age.

A research project led by the Sociology Department at Princeton University, All Our Ideas is a free, open-source, platform that businesses, associations, or other informal groups could put to good use.


Thanks to Keir Clarke from Google Maps Mania for pointing out the Beautiful Streets project which is a project inspired by All Our Ideas that is trying to understand people's perception of "what makes a beautiful street, or a pleasant neighborhood? Maybe that’s hard to define, but can you tell a beautiful place from somewhere that’s not so hot?".  It's Hot or Not for urban planning.  


Pretty sure I'll be putting All Our Ideas to use...I just need to decide on which topic or for what purpose to begin.

27 October 2011

What do courthouses, cemeteries, churches, and libraries have in common?

Well, for the genealogist and historical researcher, they're all great places to look for historical sources and information on ancestors, historical figures, or the local area.  And they've recently been incorporated into my Historical U.S. County Boundary Maps tool!  Just check the "Show Research Locations" checkbox and then select which categories you want to show, and symbols will appear on the map:

Then, you can click an icon, and an info window will appear:

The name of the place and the Website are both hyperlinks, which will open up a Google Places page for more information on the place:

I've thought about having the cemetery info windows display links directly to that cemetery's findagrave listing (or a similar site).  Let me know in comments your ideas on what site(s) I should have the places link to.

By the way, when you choose "courthouses", you'll also see city halls; when you choose "churches", you'll also see synagogues, mosques, hindu temples, and other places of worship.

TIP:  The closer you zoom in, the more places you'll see.  This is because the map limits the number of places displayed to 20 to help cut down on clutter.  So when you're zoomed out too far only 20 places will appear, and many places will simply not appear until you zoom in closer to the area you want to explore.


07 October 2011

New and more interactive version of the Historical U.S. County Boundary Maps tool released!

Check out the new and more interactive version of the Historical US County Boundary Maps tool!

Here's a quick run-down on what's new:

  • Show me the answer now please!  Now, when you type a Place and a Year* and click the Go button, you will be zoomed to that place and an information panel will automatically appear above the map, as highlighted here:

  • I want the details.  The information panel above the map shows the year, county name, full place name, and details about the latest evolution of your county of interest's boundaries as of the year you chose.  Source information about the boundary change is also shown in parenthesis at the end of the Details.
QUICK TIP FOR GENEALOGISTS:  Most people say that a best practice for recording locations in your family tree is to record the place name as it was at the time of a Fact or Event associated with your ancestor.  As a shortcut to typing, you can select the "Full place name" text with your mouse as shown below, and then Copy (Ctrl+C) and Paste (Ctrl+V) it into a Fact or Event's location field in your favorite genealogy program or website.
Today, Cortez, Colorado is located in Montezuma County.  But in 1880 it was part of La Plata County. 

  • Hmm, what are these other places around here?  Now you can zoom and pan around the area and then click the map to see information about places in other counties as of that same year.  Late-breaking news:  Now, when you drag the map such that it's center falls in another state, you will be asked if you want to see county boundaries for that new state instead.  Can't make it much easier...
  • OK, I want to see more.  Literally.  Want a bigger map window to work with?  Just click the little + sign in the upper right corner of the map pane.

  • Now I'd like to time-travel.  Click the arrow button on the right side of the Year box to scroll forward a decade at a time and see the county boundaries change before your eyes.  Alas, you can also click the arrow button on the left side of the Year box to...you get the idea.

  • *But I know the exact date I want.  Based on feedback from Tami Glatz, you can now enter an exact date to see county boundaries in effect as of that date!  Dates must be entered in the format M/D/YYYY, or you can still just enter a 4-digit year if you want.
  • But what about the rest of the world?  Sorry, the Historical US County Boundary Maps tool is only available for the United States.  However, you can view rough historical country (with an "r") boundaries with the Historical World Boundary Maps tool.

Find the new version of the Historical US County Boundary Maps tool here.

I look forward to your comments below on these enhancements!  And don't forget to click the Like, Tweet, or +1 buttons on the left side of the map...they help spread the news about this map tool.  Enjoy!

(If anyone has trouble with this new version of the map tool, please read the Quick Tips and Notes underneath the map tool.  Also, you can still access the old version here.  But if you're having trouble, please leave a comment below so I can try to address it.)

06 August 2011

Are you sure you're looking in the right county for those records?

When doing genealogical or historical research, it's helpful (if not essential) to know what counties to search for the timeframe you're interested in.  And as we all know, boundaries shift over time.  So you may think you know what counties to search, but is there a chance you're missing something?

Take a look at this example.  Let's assume you're looking for records for your homesteading ancestors who settled in the region between Albuquerque, Los Alamos, and Santa Fe, New Mexico.  This animation shows the boundaries by decade from 1850 to 1950.  Those county boundaries were anything but stable.  Take for example the community of Los Alamos; it was part of the following counties during that period:  Santa Fe, Rio Arriba, Bernalillo, and Los Alamos.


And this is not the exception, it's the rule.  According to historical geography expert John H. Long, on average, a county's boundaries shifted 4.5 times during its existence.  Especially during times of colonization and westward expansion, the boundaries on those frontier counties typically shifted much more than that, new counties were created, and old counties became defunct, and counties swapped parcels of land.

So if you haven't found some records on your ancestors where you expected to, here are 5 quick steps to see if shifting boundaries may be the culprit, and which other counties you might need to look in for the records you seek:

20 July 2011

Historical World Boundary Maps back to 2000 BC!

This is an update to my original post here.

The Historical World Boundary Maps tool has been updated to include boundaries from 2000 BC to 2008 AD.
Just type in a PRESENT-day city and country, and a HISTORICAL year, and click Go!  The boundaries will appear, and you can then click the map to see what the name of the country, empire, or kingdom was at that location for the year you typed.

Note:  The information for all years prior to 1946 includes very generalized boundaries, very rough timeframes for the boundaries, and includes some errors and omissions. As such, the information for that timeframe should be used as a very rough guide only.


16 July 2011

First U.S. Counties...now The World!

Please see an update to this post here.

It's great to see that so many people are getting good use from the Historical U.S. County Boundary Maps interactive tool on this blog.  (There's a write-up on the tool here.)

A number of people have requested historical World country boundary maps as well, so I've built another interactive map tool for that:  Historical World Boundary Maps


UPDATE: The Historical World Boundary Maps tool has been updated to include boundaries from 2000 BC to 2008 AD.

Just type in a PRESENT-day city and country, and a HISTORICAL year, and click Go! The boundaries will appear, and you can then click the map to see what the name of the country, empire, or kingdom was at that location for the year you typed.

Note: The information for all years prior to 1946 includes very generalized boundaries, very rough timeframes for the boundaries, and includes some errors and omissions. As such, the information for that timeframe should be used as a very rough guide only.

05 June 2011

New and simple online tool uses Google Maps to show historical county boundaries

THIS POST CONTAINS UPDATES FROM 06 JUN 2011:
Thanks so much for all of the interest in this tool, and for your positive comments and constructive feedback!  I've incorporated several enhancements into the current version.

We all know the importance of county governments for maintaining various types of records that are useful for genealogical research.  But how often have you tried searching for an ancestor's historical records for a given county, only to realize that you were searching in the right place but the wrong county?  In fact, according to John H. Long, the director of the Atlas of Historical County Boundaries Project at the Newberry Library, "the average number of boundary changes per county in the U.S. is 4.5".  This means that there's a very good chance that you are sometimes looking in the wrong county for some of your historical genealogical records.

Using the fantastic information from the Atlas of Historical County Boundaries, I've created an online Historical County Boundary Maps tool based on Google Maps.  You can type in ANY PRESENT-DAY PLACE in the U.S. and ANY HISTORICAL YEAR to see the map of county boundaries then in effect, along with all of the current Google Maps places, roads, etc to put the historical map in a current and familiar context!  You can then click any county on the map to see the specific history of the boundary changes, and type in different years to see the boundary changes over time.  Here's how to do it: