Friday, March 16, 2007

Using Maps in Family History Research

Hello All -

I am a big map person, and I really like to include them in my family history research and in creating research reports for my clients. When it comes to Scottish genealogical research there are at least three good sites to use. One of the best ones is Old Maps website:

Another one is the National Library of Scotland collection on their website:

The third map collection is the parish maps of Scotland:

Using parish maps are good in that you can see all the surrounding parishes as well as the bordering counties that surround an ancestors home. The Old Maps website is really good in that they use the old ordnance survey maps of the late 1800s, and alot of the time it will show the old places that are mentioned in a family's history that may not be there at the present time or it is called something else (old farms, old buildings, etc.).

Also what is good about these websites is that you can print out the map sections. These can be incorporated into the family history book that one day may be written. Most people find it more interesting to have a map included in a family history book so to see exactly where their ancestors lived and what was around them at the time. It can also be helpful in the case of one day going to see the location at the present time to see what it is like in the present day. If you're fortunate enough there will not be a shopping centre or loads of new homes built on the location.

Maps help in making a family history become more alive. It gives more than just names and places, but shows a person where the place is and what was around it. In a way, it sort of helps shape a social history of a family. Using maps can also be helpful in your research work - if a person is a little stuck on an ancestor a map can be used to try to pinpoint a location if possible (did the family come from that parish or did they migrate from elsewhere nearby). Using maps can help track a family's migration patterns and locations. Most of the time families had to move to other places for survival or the need to change occupations - i.e. if the family farm was not working any longer or they were forced off the land, alot of the times families went into the larger towns and cities to work in the mills or factories, etc., or to work on someone elses farm that was more profitable if they were brought up in farm labour. Normally, it is what the social history was like at the time - the industrial revolution, the highland clearances, etc.

Maps shouldn't be overlooked, they are such a great tool to use in doing family history research as well as being a nice addition to a written family history book or manuscript.

Until Next Time -
Carolyn of MGS