Residential Genealogy Online

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. One online site can help. Historic Map Works has unveiled a way to link people and places throughout history.

Historic Map Works is a collection of 19th and early 20th century city, town, and county maps. The detailed maps usually 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:

Based in Portland Maine, Historic Map Works, LLC is an Internet company formed to create a historic digital map database of North America and the world. Drawing on the largest physical collection of American property atlases of its type, it is our aim to be the single best online destination for map enthusiasts and researchers alike.

 In addition to our own atlas collection, we
incorporated our scans of the antiquarian world map collection from the
Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education located at
the University of Southern Maine. Combining these collections allows site
visitors a vast amount of information spanning several centuries of
cartographic information.

Historic Map Works’s map collection includes:

  • United States Property Atlases
  • Antiquarian Maps
  • Nautical Charts
  • Birdseye Views
  • Special Collections (Celestial Maps,
    Portraits, and other historical images)
  • Directories and other text documents

The vast majority of our database was created
by scanning an original map at a high resolution by our team of highly
skilled image technicians. After scanning, this team processes out the
major imperfections while maintaining the look of an antiquarian map.

Maps are then uploaded and cataloged for
viewing on our website. Our technicians geocode each map to a modern map
to enable the search by address function. Linking the historic images in
our database with geocode data allows visitors to search by modern day
address or latitude and longitude coordinates. Other methods to view our
maps include browsing by geographic location as well as searching our maps
via keywords, town names, makers names, or simply by year.

Prints and giftware are offered for the vast
majority of images on our site. A Giclee printing process is used to
create the images ordered from our site ensuring an archival print that
will remain vibrant for years to come.

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


Link does not work if you try to access it from an .edu domain.


    —> Link does not work if you try to access it from an .edu domain.

    That is not unusual. Many links from the and many other web sites do not work from edu, gov, or mil web sites. I assume that most readers of this newsletter are reading it from home Internet connections. If so, all the links should work at the time an article is published. Of course, the web changes constantly so links may or may not work days or weeks after publication. Again, the same is true for almost all web sites.


You fail to mention that it is a “pay-per-use” site, requiring registration and pre-payment “credits”. The site is anything but user friendly. The homepage is cluttered with logos and the two search fields send you to results on the web – not the site. No indication that the place to start is by clicking on the green buttons with the Historic Earth logo. Once I figured that out and registered, I tried a search. I entered a last name, choose a state and date range and the only results were two locations in a different state and date range.

I consider this site a waste of time right now. They’ve got some serious tweaking to do to make this useful.


When I lived in Maine, I passed the library housing the Osher collection nearly weekly. I never did go in, however. My loss. Glad to see this is happening.


These maps, if as good as proclaimed, will be enormously significant for Irish research. In fact they could be a pretty good substitute for the Census records.


The USGS Topo maps can provide much of the same information. They are free. Various dates.


Also google the address. I found my great-grandparents’ house on street view, and the real estate listings gave the year of construction (1890’s) to show that it was the same house. If the house has been up for sale recently, you might find pictures of the interior.


Thank you for info re this website. I knew my parents & I lived in a house in Bergen Cnty, NJ built before 1900. There seems to be no records at the cnty/state as to actual date. Imagine my surprise when I found a map dated 1876, showing correct street, outline of correct house (I have old pix), correct location, AND name of owner/builder. Parents bought house from builder. I thought it was abt 100 years old as of 2017. Turns out it is abt 140 yrs old!! and the builder had other property/homes. You made my day!!! Thanks.


Getting “unsecure site” message- there is no https designation and browser says there is no owner information. When that is all corrected, I would love to use.


Site is very disappointing. One has to not only give his name and email but also agree to ads. The last item is the onerous requirement since who wants to receive a spate of ads!!


Check with your local public library. Historic Map Works offers a library subscription to libraries. My home library has a subscription and also offers home access for library card holders.


Does the site cover Europe as well as America? Two years ago already I was able to get an image of my childhood home in Germany from Google Earth. But I had to navigate with an old Baedeker map to get my bearings, because the town had been redeveloped out of all recognition. And of course there was no historical ownership information.


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