Saturday, August 26, 2006

General Land Office Records

General Land Office Records were useful before, but with the recent addition of survey plats they're downright irresistible. If your ancestor bought land from the U.S. federal government, it's quite possible you'll find a record of it here. Should you find a land patent you need, jot down the details given under the heading "Legal Land Description," then click over to Survey Search to see what plats are online for that location. In a perfect world the land patents would be directly linked to corresponding surveys, but government websites are forbidden by law from being perfect.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Historic Map Works

Seldom do I run across a website that makes me giddy with excitement. Historic Map Works managed to push me over the edge. Founder Charles Carpenter has begun digitizing his massive antique atlas collection, starting with town and county maps from ten states, mostly in the Northeast. Two cities—Portland, Maine, and New York City—receive in-depth treatment, with every borough, block, and ward presented in colorful (and searchable) detail. Many of the maps are of the sort loosely called "cadastral," giving the names of owners and occupants and showing the location and layout of buildings. Is it any wonder I'm excited?