Rates of Travel from New York City helps you calculate how far your ancestors could travel in one day from 1800-1930.

Determining rates of travel are especially interesting research questions for genealogists. Did your ancestors came through the port of New York? Or were they overland migrants? Then this data visualization project can help.

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

Consult this digital project, Rates of Travel from New York City, 1800-1930, online here. The Digital Scholarship Lab at The University of Richmond began with maps from the seminal 1932 Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States.

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 1932 atlas are shown below. Combining them with huge data sets yielded the modern infographic featured at top.

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

Courtesy University of Richmond

Creating the Rates of Travel from New York City, 1800-1930 Project

The DSL combined the 1932 Atlas with dense amounts of data. According to project  staff, here are the sources for just the first two maps created for this project:

Francis Bailey, Tour of the Unsettled Parts of North America, London, 1856; Jacob Burnet, Notes on the Settlement of the Northwest, New York, 1847; Samuel Cummings, The Western Pilot, Cincinnati, 1836; Seymour Dunbar, History of Travel in America, Vols. 1-3, Indianapolis, 1915; A. M. Earle, Stage-Coach and Tavern Days, New York, 1912

Josiah Gregg,Commerce of the Prairies, New York and London, 1844; F. W. Halsey, Old New York Frontier, New York, 1901; A. B. Hulbert, Historic Highways of America, Vols. 7-14, Cleveland, 1902-1905; A. B. Hulbert, Paths of Inland Commerce (Chronicles of America Ser., Vol. 21), New Haven, 1920; Malcolm Keir, The March of Commerce (Pageant of America Ser., Vol. 4), New Haven, 1927

Caroline MacGill, History of Transportation in the United States before 1860(Carnegie Institution of Washington, Bull. 215C), 1927; Harriet Martineau, “Travels in and around Michigan, 1836,” Michigan History Magazine, Vol. 7, 1923, Nos. 1 and 2; Journal of Andre Michaux, 1793-1796

Travels to the West of the Allegheny Mountains, by F. A. Michaux (Early Western Travels Ser., edited by R. G. Thwaites, Vol. 3), Cleveland, 1904; The Navigator, Pittsburgh, 1801; M. M. Quaife, Chicago and the Old Northwest, Chicago, 1913; Thomas Speed, The Wilderness Road (Filson Club Publ. 2), Louisville, 1886; H. S. Tanner, The American Traveler, Philadelphia, 1838.


Using the Rates of Travel from New York City, 1800-1930 Project

To use Rates of Travel from New York City, 1800-1930, visit the project here. And you can read more about the amazing way big data works in this project here. Interested in more Big Data projects for your family history research? Get the latest issue of my free newsletter with with more Big Data examples here.