If you’ve been searching for an ancestor in the right place only to discover that you were looking in the wrong county, The Atlas of Historical County Boundaries could prove to be a great help.

How often have you searched for an ancestor only to discover that although you were searching in the right place you were looking in the wrong county?

This valuable online resource is a project of the William M. Scholl Center for American History and Culture at the Newberry Library in Chicago and is a powerful historic research and reference tool. The director of the library John H. Long, says that the average number of boundary changes per county in the United States is about 4.5. This is a significant fact to keep in mind as you research your family roots.

The software interface uses maps, complete data in text about the creation and all changes that are dated to the day, in the size, shape, and location of every county in the 50 United States and the District of Columbia.

Also included are “non-county areas, unsuccessful authorizations for new counties, changes in county names and organization, and the temporary attachments of non county areas and unorganized counties to fully functioning counties.”

I’ve done my research and, to date, I can say that claims that the atlas is designed to be as comprehensive as possible is true. So far, I haven’t found any inconsistencies and every day is covered, starting in the early 1600s and ending in the year 2000.

This is a powerful tool and, if you’re getting down to the “nitty gritty” in your research, it’s a must have. There are 13 features listed on the website that distinguish the Atlas of Historical County Boundaries from other research tools.

If you’d like to read more about what makes it stand out, how it’s organized, scope (always important), importance of counties, changes, the history of how it was conceived and compiled, and materials used,  click on About the Project, then click on Home in the menu on the right to start your search. You can always find the link in my Blogroll.

You can also download files for each state from the site at follows:

PDF: Portable Document Format (PDF) is an open standard for document exchange. This file format created by Adobe Systems in 1993 is used for representing documents in a manner independent of application software, hardware, and operating systems.

GIS:  A geographic information system (GIS) lets us visualize, question, analyze, interpret, and understand data in many ways that reveal relationships, patterns, and trends in the form of maps, globes, reports, and charts.

KMZ: A file formatted to be used with  Google Earth and Google Maps.


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

2 Comments on Atlas of Historical County Boundaries-another great find

  1. Ann P. says:

    Thank you for this information.

  2. Randy Majors says:

    This tool puts the excellent Newberry Library historical county boundaries on top of Google Maps:

    The Historical U.S. County Boundary Maps interactive tool ( http://randymajors.com/p/maps.html ) shows you the historical county boundaries for any place and historical year you’re researching. See details on when and how the boundaries changed, overlaid on a present-day Google Map.

    You can also overlay research locations on the map such as courthouses, cemeteries, churches, and libraries, and link right to them for more information.h as courthouses, cemeteries, churches, and libraries, and link right to them for more information.

Leave a Reply