15 Mar 2014

OpenStreetMap and Genealogy

Today’s post is about OpenStreetMap and genealogy. I believe the next big advances in genealogy (and historiography) are coming from the growing ability to add historical data to mapping applications.

I’ve written about HistoryPin and WhatWasThere, both of which combine mapping and photographs. Another great project in this area is OpenStreetMap, a free, editable map of the whole world, which is of interest to genealogists for both input and research.

openstreetmap sassy jane genealogy

OpenStreetMap is open source, which means anyone can contribute to and edit the data. The OpenStreetMap license allows free access to the full map dataset, which can be downloaded in full. And because it’s open source, users can view changes and additions made over time to the database that underpins the map.

Also included in search results on OpenStreetMap are other bits of geographical information dear to genealogists, like variant names, counties or other geographical hierarchy, and links to Wikipedia and GeoNames. The example above uses one of my former Prussian and now Polish ancestral villages, Rawitsch.


  • How Far Your Ancestors Could Travel from New York sassy jane genealogy
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    How Far Your Ancestors Could Travel from New York in One Day

22 Feb 2014

How Far Your Ancestors Could Travel from New York in One Day

Today’s post is about calculating how far your ancestors could travel from New York in one day. It’s an interesting question to genealogists whose ancestors came through the port of New York. Maps from the Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States, published in 1932, have been digitized and the data are now available by decade in the modern infographic above.

The Digital Scholarship Lab at The University of Richmond created travel time estimates using the data from the 1932 Atlas by digitizing the maps and making them available online.

In 1800, a stagecoach could only reach parts of the Northeast; Charleston, South Carolina, from Manhattan meant ten days of sailing. The maps as they appeared in the atlas are shown below.

How Far Could Your Ancestors Travel from New York in One Day sassy jane genealogy

Courtesy University of Richmond

The […]

19 Nov 2013 for Prussian Genealogy – Tuesday’s Tip for Prussian genealogy is an indispensable tool. It’s difficult not to jump up and down as I write this because this resource is so great. for Prussian genealogy sassy jane genealogy

The brainchild of Uwe-Karsten Krickhahn, contains 94,636 locations in the former country of Prussia, with 38,691 locations that have changed to Polish, Lithuanian, or Russian names. for Prussian genealogyYou can search by:

1. German name
2. Older German name
3. Kreis/County
4. By the next larger town (proximity search)
5. Current Polish, Russian or Lithuanian name
6. By Family Name

As seen in the example at right, search results include the all important Kreis, GPS, and other information to further your research.

Best of all is the option to attach the surnames you’re researching in a particular town and view surnames other researchers have posted as well.


18 Sep 2013

What Did Chicago Look Like Before the Great Fire

Courtesy Smithsonian & David Rumsey Map Collection

Courtesy Smithsonian & David Rumsey Map Collection

What Did Chicago Look Like Before the Great Fire is available online at Smithsonian Magazine. One of the things I love about it is that it illustrates so well the power of digital mapping for both genealogists and historians.

The Smithsonian Magazine asked première map collector David Rumsey to supply a map for the project. Rumsey chose an 1868 map of Chicago from a guidebook called “The Citizen’s Guide for the City of Chicago.”