Posted in Library of Congress, Photos, Websites

Little-known database is a treasure of early photos and drawings


The Library of Congress houses a collection of early American photos and drawings of historic buildings you will want to explore (the photos—not the buildings, that is).

The Historic American Buildings Survey has “more than 556,900 measured drawings, large-format photographs, and written histories for more than 38,600 historic structures and sites dating from Pre-Columbian times to the twentieth century.” This collection is part of the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog, and I plan to highlight a few other awesome collections in the future.

The collection is key word searchable, so try inputting the name of an ancestor’s hometown or a notable landmark. You might be surprised to find some pretty cool pictures or drawings that give you a glimpse into your ancestor’s life. And they are downloadable and free to use!

Posted in County histories, Research tips, Websites

Quick Video Tutorial: Using the Internet Archive to Find Digitized County Histories


Every good genealogist wants to find a county history for each locality where an ancestor resides.  Well, have you checked the Internet Archive lately?  There are over 10 million digitized books and texts, and you are likely to find one or more county histories for whatever locality you choose—and I’m not just talking U.S. counties.

In this quick video tutorial (5 minutes) you can learn how to find and download these free books.


Posted in FamilySearch Wiki, Research tips, Video tutorials, Websites

Quick Video Tutorial: Finding online links to genealogy records for each state

Posted in FamilySearch Wiki, Websites

Links to Online Genealogy Records for Each State


I love the FamilySearch Research Wiki for many reasons.  One of them is the page titled “United States Online Genealogy Records.”  This is a page with a link for each state page—pages which have neatly organized links to online genealogy records.  It also has a few other links to pages with general U.S. records as follows:

Arizona Online Genealogy Records
Part of FamilySearch page for Arizona Online Genealogy Records

If you like the idea of an entire page full of links to [insert favorite state name here] all neatly organized into familiar categories like births, marriages, deaths, archives and libraries, biography, cemetery, census, compiled genealogies, directories, history, military, and—well, you get what I’m saying—then you are going to love these state pages.  Just take a look at the full page of Arizona links.  Be sure to also check out the box titled, “Arizona Background” and its links for Biography, Gazetteers, History, Maps, Migration, and “For Further Reading.”

These are not just links to databases on FamilySearch, but links to fee-based websites, as well. The good news is that the fee-based websites appear to be those that patrons of LDS Family History Centers have access to at no charge, like The majority of links appear to be free, and are from the FamilySearch digitized collections.

Since the FamilySearch Research Wiki can be edited by anyone, presumably these pages with online links will be updated as new ones become available and alert Wiki contributors add them.

Posted in Maps, Websites

A Nifty Tool Added to the Toolkit

You may or may not know I have a thing for maps. I already have quite a few links to mapping tools in Dayna’s Genealogy Toolkit, but I just have to share one I discovered this week while researching at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. On their computers they have links to useful genealogy websites, and one that I had not known about before is  This very handy mapping tool is being thrown into the toolkit.

Map of US

If you can navigate around all the advertising on the website, and figure out where to find things,  you will find two very useful features:

Interactive boundary formation maps

“Interactive Map of State Formation History” and “Interactive Map of [state] County Formation History” are tools I will be using often. In fact, I used them quite a bit during my research session this week.

If you are familiar with the Animap program by Goldbug, you will recognize these interactive maps.  They are used with the permission of Goldbug, and are basically an online version of Animap without the ability to plot towns. The first shows the state and territorial boundary changes for the entire United States by year.  Access this tool via the “U.S. Maps” link:

Map of US 3

The second shows boundary changes for counties within a given state.  Access this tool via the “Home” link:

Map of US 5

and then clicking on one of the states:

Map of US 6

Historical Atlases

Individual map pages from various historical atlases 1776-1880 have been reproduced here.  Many include details showing railroad lines and the public land survey grid. Access these maps by clicking on the “Historical Atlases” link:

Map of US 4

I like maps for a reason.  Family history puzzlements can often be sorted out when I know what county or state had jurisdiction over an ancestor’s records. It is critical to know where county boundaries were. And how close did they live to a migration route?  Where was the nearest railroad? How close were towns to each other?  Geography can make sense of things, or point out obvious discrepancies in my research.

Just this week I struggled to find records for someone who lived in Jasper County, Missouri and then found it had been part of three other counties. I discovered it by using the interactive county boundary formation map.  I often refer to the “Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Census, 1790-1920,” by William Dollarhide, and I still will because it is my trusty sidekick. But it is nice to have a tool which shows boundaries between the census years, so I will also be using the “Map of US” website.

I would also like to plug Animap software, which has additional worthwhile features.

While “Map of US”is a bit of a funky website with some links that go nowhere and menu items that have nothing under them, you really only need to know where to find the interactive maps and the historical atlases to get the most from the site. I think you will find it quite useful.