United States Historical Geography

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United States Wiki Topics
How do I research United States Historical Geography?
Beginning Research
Record Types
United States Background
Cultural Groups
Local Research Resources


Internet Maps[edit | edit source]

Free interactive maps for 36 states—highlighting county creations and boundary changes year-by-year—are online at MapofUS.org, along with census maps, road maps, and maps from prior centuries.

Boundary and Name Changes[edit | edit source]

Because counties were often divided and their names and boundaries changed, you may need to determine previous boundaries and jurisdictions to locate your ancestors' records. A county history is the best source of information about a county's origin. Other sources that can help you determine the origin of a county are:

  • Kane, Joseph Nathan. The American Counties: Origins of Names, Dates of Creation and Organization, Area, Population, Historical Data, and Published Sources. Fourth Edition. Metuchen, New Jersey: Scarecrow Press, 1983. (Family History Library book 973 E2ka 1983.)
  • The Handy Book for Genealogists. Eighth Edition. Logan, Utah: Everton Publishers, 1991. (Family History Library book 973 D27e 1991.)

Other sources about boundary changes are found in the Place Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under UNITED STATES - HISTORICAL GEOGRAPHY. The historical atlases described in United States Maps contain maps depicting county formations, migration and settlement patterns, military actions, ethnic distribution, religious trends, and population trends.

Vintage Aerials[edit | edit source]