As you have collected information on your ancestors, the places (towns, cities, counties, provinces, states and countries) they have lived in over the decades it can become a bit confusing, less of course your have a degree in geography. Most people are usually unfamiliar with most locations outside of any places they have lived in themselves. So trying to understand and know about where our ancestors resided can prove to be quite a task. With name changes for towns or country lines redrawn over the years it can be even more perplexing.
Using the online source titled Old Maps Online, it has made that task a bit easier and most fascinating. By its title there is a collection of historical maps of places, some dating back a couple hundred years. There is a simple search site.
In the above search box on the search page, just type in the known name of a town or county or a whole or country. Then a map will appear of the location selected with a side bar to the right with links to numerous maps. A brief summary of the map along with the date helps you narrow down which historic map you want to view. The links to each map is from the website of host institution of that map. Just link on which one you want to view.
Just below the search box is a timeline. This scroll allows you to narrow down a certain time frame. If you want the country of Egypt maps between 1590 and 1700, just place that name then slide the timeline and the selection links will appear on the right. Just click on the map you wish to view. Many of the maps are not just of political drawn places but include about religions, water sources, mountains, travel routes, animal life, food crops, railroads, ethic groups, plants, flowers and forests.
To illustrate the variety of information on some of the maps there is the 1870 United States census marking deaths from consumption, thyroid, malarial diseases, fevers and intestinal diseases across the eastern half of the United States and the far west coast. This shows where there were wide-spread epidemics which certainly affected the populations of at each region. For example in 1870 there were many deaths in Florida from malaria but nothing from Pennsylvania northward.
It is fascinating to see how some places were thought to look like hundreds of years ago. This is especially true in the New World (North and South America). With all the individual maps they can also be enlarged to see the details. This includes the main map in the center of the search page which shows the present-day city boundaries, rivers, lakes, roads and labeled streets for the location you are checking.
This is quite an intriguing assemblage of maps.
The above 1917 map of Manchester is an example of the towns in the southeast portion of Lancashire County, England.