Find historical maps on

mapofusI’m not sure how I happened across the website, but it seems like quite a find for history and map lovers, and, of course, family history researchers.

The site consists of links to many, many high-resolution historical maps of the U.S. (and a few other countries), as well as a small selection of battle maps for the Revolutionary War, and Civil War maps promised to come soon.In addition, there is a Historical  Atlases section, which provides some city maps as well. I was able to see 1852 and 1880 maps of St. Louis, where I live. They were fascinating.

It also offers an interactive U.S. map where you can watch the territories and states as they’re established throughout time. Each state also has an interactive county map.

The maps are available free of charge (at this point anyway). This seems like a really easy way to check county (and other) boundaries on various dates while you’re doing your genealogy research.


Quick technology update

ihearttechOver the last couple of months I pondered purchasing some technology to help me in my family history research. I panted over the ScanSnap SV600 contactless scanner. And I asked your opinion about whether I should get an iPad air to help with genealogy.

Guess what? I bought both!

On December 26, I purchased a 64-gigabyte, wifi-only, white iPad Air. And I ordered the scanner on December 29, though it arrived about a week ago.

So far, I haven’t had the opportunity to use the iPad much for genealogy. My research has been done at my desk and I prefer to use my MacBook Pro (with external monitor, keyboard and mouse) at my desk. But I’m traveling this week to do some business planning (but probably not any genealogy research) and I suspect my iPad will get lots of use.I bought Lisa Louise Cooke’s ebook, Turn Your iPad into a Genealogy Powerhouse, but I haven’t read it yet. That may become airplane reading for me.

I’m really struck by the speed and lightness of the iPad Air, especially compared with the iPad 1 that I purchased in 2010. (And sold in 2013.) It’s also much faster than my iPhone 4S and makes it feel downright clunky.

The ScanSnap SV600 is actually smaller than I expected (which is a good thing). I had no difficulty setting it up, but I’m finding there’s a bit of a learning curve in using it. I haven’t yet set aside the time to figure out exactly how to manipulate the images after scanning to remove the curvature of a book, for example. But it’s all very promising.

Once I start really using this technology, I’ll let you know how useful I find both of these new toys!

New Hack Genealogy Boot Camp: Get Your Genealogy Groove Back

Get your genealogy groove backI just signed up for the Get Your Genealogy Groove Back Boot Camp from Hack Genealogy. It will be held on Saturday, January 25 from 10 am to 1:30 pm central time. (Recordings are available to registrants who can’t attend live or wish to watch it again.)

This boot camp series is organized by Hack Genealogy, the blog run by Thomas MacEntee, founder of Geneabloggers. This particular boot camp consists of two webinars that are right up my alley:

  • Genealogy Goals: How to Set Them, How to Keep them, presented by Lisa A. Alzo
  • Managing the Genealogy Data Monster, by Thomas MacEntee

I’m really looking forward to hearing what these experts have to say!

The boot camps are very reasonably priced. I paid only $9.95 to register. That includes a $3 discount for ordering before January 20.

There are so many learning opportunities in the world of genealogy. I was attracted to this one because of the expertise of the presenters, the fact that it’s live (sometimes recordings just languish on my hard drive), and the very reasonable tuition. Can’t wait!

My new Family History Organizer notebook on Springpad

sp_fam_hist_orgI’ve become a fan of Springpad, a personal organizer app for the web and mobile devices. I use it to manage tasks and keep track of things like books I want to read and have read, movies, and wines. So far, I’m just scratching the surface of its functionality, but I really am loving it. I wrote on my Peace of Mind Organizing blog about how much I’m loving their Task Notebook.

To me, Springpad feels like Evernote meets Pinterest. I find it intuitive, easy to use, and visually appealing.

I am thrilled to announce that I’ve partnered with Springpad to create a digital notebook that’s customized to help you organize your family history. Called the Family History Organizer, it has these features:

  • A simple to-do list to keep track of and plan next steps, including a quick +Add button for adding tasks and checklists
  • A research tracker, complete with template form, so you can log information and research progress quickly and easily
  • An easy “database” for uploading photos and files scanned to your computer or from your phone
  • Bonus: A resources section filled with my tips and helpful tools

I created the research tracker because I have a hard time sticking with a proper research log. The research tracker is light version of a research log, but I think the information it captures will be helpful. Just copy and paste the template headings into a new Note within the Research Tracker tab at the conclusion of each research session and you’ll have an easy, accessible record of that session.

I’ll update the resources section of the Family History Organizer when I come across great resources (or when I want to share a particularly useful blog post).

I hope you’ll check out this custom notebook. If you’re interested in information and tools about organizing in general (not just genealogy), I also have a notebook called The Habit Maker. This is all part of Springpad’s Operation Organization campaign in which they’ve partnered with a small group of organizing experts to create a dozen or so of these notebooks.

If you try out the Family History Organizer, please let me know if you have any questions or feedback!