Genealogy, combined with family history, can tell an amazing story about your ancestors. Having copies of their vital records is one thing, but photos and journals help bring out someone’s personality. Another way to get more of a view into an ancestor’s life is to learn about where they lived. The David Rumsey Map Collection could enhance your research.
The David Rumsey Map Collection was started over 30 years ago. It contains more than 150,000 maps. The main focus of the collection is on rare 16th through 20th century maps of North and South America. There are also maps of the World, Asia, Africa, Europe, and Oceania. Items range in date from about 1500 to the present day.
The collection first started being digitized in 1996. There are now over 60,000 items online and new ones are regularly added. The David Rumsey Map Collection is free and open to the public. Viewers can see high resolution images of maps and use a variety of tools to compare, analyze, and view items in new ways.
David Rumsey is the President of Cartography Associates, which is a digital publishing company that is based in San Francisco. He is also the Chairman of Luna Imaging, a provider of free software for online image collections. People who visit the David Rumsey Map Collection website can use the LUNA Imaging tool to view the maps. David Rumsey has been creating historical map projects in Google Earth, Google Maps and the virtual world of Second Life.
How can these maps help genealogists? They can give you a glimpse of what the world looked like where your ancestor lived at the time that he or she lived there. Or, it can give you some more information about what was happening where your ancestor lived in a specific year.
For example, you could search the David Rumsey Collection for Chicago Fire. It brings up some interesting things such as a map of Chicago from 1857. There are also a few pages of very detailed drawings of some of the buildings that were damaged or destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire of 1893.
Lisa Louise Cooke, host of the Genealogy Gems podcast, points out a few more things that caught her attention when she was checking out the David Rumsey Map Collection. Among them include a large group of German Invasion plans for England, Ireland, and Wales during WWII. She also found an extremely detailed wall map of rebuilt San Francisco “the Exposition City”.
Take a moment to search the David Rumsey Map Collection for maps and images that are from where your ancestors lived. What the search brings up could give you a glimpse into what the world was like when your ancestors were alive.
Image by Marty Hogan on Flickr.
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