Pure Michigan Genealogy
Maps are an important tool in your genealogy research. Maps have a treasure trove of information ready for you to decipher. Once you have accumulated a few facts, you will want to turn to maps to to truly understand your ancestors. You will want to learn how they lived and where they lived. You will want to look at old and new maps, online and paper maps. Maps are a good resource because they will give you clues for where to look for more information. If your grandparents owned a farm in Dickson Township, Manistee, Michigan, as mine did, you can look at the map and see what the nearest town is and where the county seat is located. Maps can show towns, cemeteries, railroads, streets and roads, rivers and so much more. There are many types of maps available for your Michigan research.
1. Plat Maps are usually found on a county by county format. They show land ownership at a certain place in a certain time. They can be found in local county equalization offices, local libraries, or at local MSU Extension offices.
2. Topographic Maps offer an opportunity to locate farmsteads using selected cultural and physical features of the landscape. Roads, fence lines, barns, orchards, gravel pits cemeteries, railroad tracks and schools are cultural features. Rivers, creeks, hills, valleys, lakes and swamps are physical features. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has articles on Using Maps in Genealogy. The USGS website has topographical maps for Michigan and other states.
3. Political Maps are the maps we usually use. They show cities, towns, counties, etc.
4. Fire Insurance maps will include businesses, schools, and churches.
For the purpose of this blog post, I will give a few online Michigan map sources:
- Maps of Michigan-a county formation map, historical maps, and Department of Transportation maps can be found here.
- Michigan Digital Map Library-early Michigan state and county maps are included.
- American Memory Map Collection-this Library of Congress website has maps, cities and towns, military battles, transportation and communication, and other collections.
- Historical Maps of Michigan-a wide variety of Michigan maps can be found here.
- Michigan County Histories and Atlases-a searchable database that includes atlases.
- Perry-Castaneda Library Map Collection-a few unusual maps are in this collection. Isle Royal National Park and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore are found here.
- Atlas of Historical Boundaries-this collection from Newberry Library contains great map resources.
- David Rumsey Historical Map Collection-a great map resource for Michigan and other historical maps.
- Maps at Pure Michigan-maps of economic characteristics, railroad maps, colleges and universities, commercial ports and more.
- National Atlas-many printable maps are found here.
- Plat Maps-historical Michigan plat maps at Seeking Michigan.
- Google Maps and Google Earth-don't forget about these easy to use resources.
Pure Michigan Genealogy is a series of posts on researching in Michigan. I am posting a blog article every day this week as Michigan celebrates Michigan Week. Michigan Week is a time when Michigan celebrates its' heritage. Maps is number seven in the series. Other posts in the series are below.