Would you like to know who lived in your home many years ago? Or perhaps you want to find the home of your ancestors in the 19th century. A new online site can help. Historic Map Works has unveiled a new way to link people and places throughout history.
Historic Map Works is a collection of 19th and early 20th century American city, town, and county maps. The detailed maps show every building and every street in each city or town. Each single-dwelling home contains the name of the family who resided there, either on or beside the building on the map. Apartment complexes contained the property owner's name.
The new site should be of interest to history buffs, genealogy searchers, and real estate agents. Can you imagine the realtor listing the details of a family that used to live in the house being offered for sale? I suspect that amount of detail might increase the sale price!
The maps are visible on the web site free of charge while higher quality printed maps are offered for sale.
Historic Map Works provides the following description of their site:
Through this online business, finding a specific historic home or building is easy, as the map collection is linked with modern mapping technology that references existing street names and numbers. By simply typing in an address, users can follow the progression of buildings and neighborhoods through time-in some cases up to 250 years.
The interactive website has already attracted broad appeal, says Charles Carpenter, the founder and president of the company. "Anyone who has ever lived in an older home has, at some point, wondered who the earlier occupants might have been. Even if they live in a modern home, they may also wonder how their neighborhood evolved: which homes were built when, and the progression of neighboring streets. Historic Map Works provides the answers without the endless hours of library research," he said.
Like modern digital maps (i.e. Google Earth®), Historic Map Works' maps are extremely detailed and comprehensive, showing the location and footprint of nearly all structures of the period. Unlike its modern counterparts, the antique maps often list the contemporary owner's and/or occupant's names adjacent to the structures. This facilitates research into the history of places and structures as well as about the people who have occupied and owned them-creating an exciting new culture of Residential Genealogy™.
While looking through the archives of their neighborhood, users cannot help but notice that the hand-drawn maps are examples of exquisite craftsmanship. Carpenter is confident that people will want to acquire these high-quality reproductions, which are printed with premium paper and inks to ensure their durability.
Those desiring to do more detailed historic, commercial or genealogy research will appreciate another time-saving feature of the site, as well. In addition to the inscriptions of previous owners and occupants on the maps themselves, www.HistoricMapworks.com also allows users to access its extensive database of other contemporary records. The linked antique city directories, census records and phone books enhance the ability of researchers to trace not only the history of any location but also the people in these locations back in time.
Carpenter, started his business as a means to share his enormous collection of antique atlases, which he has gathered over 30 years. His library includes more than 30,000 maps and is believed to be the most extensive collection of county atlases, outside of the U.S. Library of Congress. When Carpenter first began collecting these atlases, he quickly became fascinated by the exceptional qualities of the antique maps. "Each one was like finding a treasure chest filled with fine art and history."
Over the past two years, Carpenter and his staff have worked with state-of-the-art computer and imaging equipment in his renovated 19th Century barn - an artistic treasure in and of itself - to digitize the massive map collection.
Historic Map Works' initial city and town map offerings are in New York City and Carpenter's hometown of Portland, Maine. County maps are also available for nearly every county from Maryland north to Maine. Maps extending along the entire east coast will follow this 2-city, 8 state launch, which are now available for the public to search online, or to purchase to frame and hang in their historic homes and offices.
I will share one experience I had. I first went to the Historic Map Works web site, clicked on one map for a town where some of my ancestors lived, and then clicked on zoom. Imagine my surprise to see my great-great-uncle's house listed in Scarborough, Maine. I had only been on the web site about fifteen seconds!
I cannot guarantee that you will have the same level of success that I enjoyed, but you can find out for yourself at http://www.historicmapworks.com.