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Let this FREE tool do the location work for you as you search on Ancestry.com or FamilySearch.org



U.S. county boundaries have changed over 17,600 times since America was settled in colonial times. Don’t sabotage your search for ancestors by not knowing the correct county for the historical years you are researching.

While searching on Ancestry or FamilySearch, the free Historical U.S. Counties Auto-Checker extension for Google Chrome automatically checks that the county existed in the year you are searching, warns of boundary changes, and links to historical county lines on Google Maps for the place and years you are searching!


Install for free today and never let an ancestor fall of the map again!



For a step-by-step example of how the tool works, check out this post:  Ancestor fall off the map? Use this FREE Chrome extension for Ancestry or FamilySearch to find them!

Note, this is the first version of this tool, so if you find any bugs or issues, please contact me on the form on the lower left side of this page.  And if you find it useful, please leave a rating or review on the chrome web store.



Ancestor fall off the map? Use this FREE Chrome extension for Ancestry and FamilySearch to help find them!

It's been a long time in the making...so I'm excited to finally make this Chrome extension available!  Here's a run-down on what the Chrome extension does and why it's important for your searches on Ancestry and FamilySearch.

Are you unknowingly sabotaging your searches on Ancestry and FamilySearch?

When searching on Ancestry.com, don’t be lulled into complacency by the convenient “City, County, State…” autocomplete dropdown menus like this one:

Searching in Denver County for James Smith b1850 in 1880 US Census on Ancestry

Why?  Because the county listed in the drop-down may not be right!  The county may not have existed in the year you are searching...or boundaries may have changed.  (Keep reading...county boundaries have changed over 17,600 times in the U.S.!)  How can you know if this is a problem you're facing?

SOLUTION:  The new Historical U.S. Counties Auto-Checker Chrome extension will automatically alert you as you type a place and year.  In the example below, see the warning that Denver County did not exist in 1880!


You can then click the MAP link to determine exactly what County you SHOULD be searching in for the year you are searching.  The map will open in a new browser tab, center on the State you are searching and the historic boundaries for the year you are searching will draw.  Click around the map to explore or use the Search Places box above the map to go directly to a city, such as Denver, CO in this example:


SO, Denver was located in Arapahoe County, Colorado in 1880!

Why does this matter?  Let’s find out:

Search results for James Smith born 1850 in Denver using only Ancestry’s autocomplete dropdown (where is he?!?):
Using the information from the MAP link in the Historical U.S. Counties Auto-Checker Chrome extension, now go back and edit your search to the CORRECT county (Ancestry’s autocomplete may not show you a hint for “Denver, Arapahoe County…” but be stubborn and type it anyway!):
Search for James Smith in Denver, Arapahoe County in 1880

The Historical U.S. Counties Auto-Checker Chrome extension now tells you that Arapahoe County is a valid county, formed in 1861 and its boundaries changed 2x between formation and 1880.  (If you’re curious and want to see the boundary changes, just click the MAP link).

Now, click Search and your new results appear (there he is!):


So James Smith born about 1850 DOES reside in Denver in 1880!  We just needed to know Denver was part of Arapahoe County in 1880!


How many times has not knowing the correct county kept you from finding a record for your ancestors? 

Probably more that you thought:  U.S. county boundaries have changed over 17,600 times since America was settled in colonial times.  Don’t sabotage your search for ancestors by not knowing the correct county for the historical year you are researching.

Search with confidence:  The Historical U.S. Counties Auto-Checker Chrome extension makes use of the award-winning randymajors.com Research Hub’s Historical U.S. Counties on Google Maps tool, underpinned with the complete dataset of the authoritative Newberry Atlas of Historical County Boundaries.

With the Historical U.S. Counties Auto-Checker Chrome extension, now you can easily know about county search errors and explore county boundary changes.  And with that knowledge you may very well find new records that were “hidden” on Ancestry or FamilySearch all along!

Installation Instructions

Click the "Add to Chrome" button to install.  (You may see a standard confirmation window that states that the extension can “Read and change your data on www.ancestry.com or www.familysearch.org”.  Rest assured that the Historical U.S. Counties Auto-Checker Chrome extension ONLY reads the place and year fields and shows the county information as shown in the screenshots above; it absolutely DOES NOT make any changes to your data whatsoever.  No logins or email addresses are required to use the extension!)  

Instructions are available at both the installation link as well as in a popup that appears when you first install it.  But I think you'll find it incredibly easy to use, as you don't have to do anything different than you normally do when searching on Ancestry and FamilySearch...the county information box just automatically appears as you type places and years in all of the search boxes! 

Note, this is the first version of this tool, so if you find any bugs or issues, please contact me on the form on the lower left side of this page.  And if you find it useful, please leave a rating or review on the chrome web store.

Happy searching!

New map tool shows Coronavirus Shelter-in-Place & Stay-at-Home Orders on Google Maps

In an effort to try to provide useful information during this trying time, I've been working to maintain an up-to-date interactive map showing all Coronavirus Shelter-in-Place & Stay-at-Home Orders on Google Maps in the US.

The map overlays all U.S. jurisdictions with Shelter-in-Place* or Stay-at-Home* Orders currently in effect or imminent due to the Covid-19 Coronavirus.

Below is a screenshot of the tool, but I encourage you to go to the live map to ensure you're seeing the latest updates.


As with all map tools on this website, you can zoom in and see the relevant county lines, city limits, townships and more.

* While the term "Shelter-In-Place" or "Stay-At-Home" is not precisely accurate, they are the terms being most widely used for jurisdictions where all but essential activities outside the home are currently outlawed.  In general, the exceptions include essential workers, medical necessity, getting groceries and recreational activities such as running, walking and hiking where at least 6 feet social distance is maintained.


If you are aware of an current or imminent Shelter-in-Place or Stay-at-Home order that is not represented on the map tool, please let me know in the comments of this post, along with a link to a reputable government or news website with the announcement.

Please feel free to share if you know of others who would find this useful.

Stay healthy!

New feature: DRAW ANY SHAPE on the map to reveal all of the Counties, ZIP Codes, Cities, Townships and more

With all of the Map tools on the randymajors.com Research Hub, you've always been able to click on the map to know what ZIP Code, city, county or Section Township and Range that you clicked on.

Now with this latest version of the map tools, you can DRAW ANY SHAPE and identify what's there! Here are the simple steps:

    New Drawing Tools button on randymajors Research Hub
    New Drawing Tools on randymajors Research Hub
  1. Click the "Drawing Tools..." button on the left side of the map
  2. Select the shape you want to draw (line, custom polygon or rectangle) in the upper left corner
  3. Draw any shape on the map and double-click the map when you're done 

Here's an example in which I drew a polygon to report on ZIP Codes around Sioux City, Iowa:


See that "Results" box that pops up over the map window?  It reports ALL of the features that the shape you drew touches. So in this example, we have all of the ZIP Codes that my drawn polygon touches.

These new drawing tools work on all of the map tools to select the appropriate main topic of the tool:  countiesZIP CodescitiesSection Township and Rangehistorical U.S. countiesTime Zones, and Area Codes

Copy the Results into another program

If you have some sort of a database, spreadsheet or document, you can easily paste the list of ZIP Codes into that other program.  Just follow these easy steps:

  1. Click inside the Results box that lists the ZIP Codes
  2. Type Ctrl+A to select all of the ZIP Codes
  3. Type Ctrl+C to copy them to your clipboard
  4. Open your other program and either type Ctrl+V or choose Paste from the appropriate menu
When you're done, just click the "EXIT DRAWING" button on the left side of the map.

Create a pdf of your map, including the shape you drew!

Now that you know how to draw a shape on the map, you might want to create a pdf or screenshot of your completed masterpiece.  Let's say you're drawing a parcel of land based on a Section, Township and Range land description.  Follow these steps:
  1. Draw the shape on the map using the Drawing Tools as described above (TIP:  If you need to adjust the shape after you draw it, click the Hand button highlighted in the upper left of the map)
  2. In a few moments, the Results window will appear over the map listing each unique Section Township Range your shape touched.  Click the "CLOSE" button on the Results box so you can see the map.
  3. To create a pdf file of your map, right-click in the light-blue title bar at the top of the map (highlighted below), and choose "Print..." as shown below.
Print a pdf from the randymajors map tools

In the resulting Print preview window that appears, change the "Print Destination" to "Save as pdf".  (If the map doesn't appear quite right, you can try changing from Portrait to Landscape or go back and make your map window smaller and Print again).  

Another option for getting a map into another program is just to click the PrtScr (PrintScreen) key on your keyboard, and then open your other program (e.g. Word, PowerPoint, your blog) and Paste.  That's how I get all these maps in to these blog posts!

Have fun with these powerful new drawing and reporting tools!