The Value of Maps

1754 us map


In the realm of history and genealogy, historical maps are invaluable. They provide locational context for research in different eras. Throughout time boundaries of counties, states and occasionally countries often change. Comparing maps from different years can show how these changes affected your ancestors. Maps can help a researcher, beginner or professional, understand distances, long journeys west and migration patterns.

Recently, I was looking into the wilds of Virginia mid-1750s; think French and Indian War. The Bowen branch of my family tree was heavily involved in the early settlement of the area. During that time the family lived close to where Harrisonburg, Virginia is located today. Feeling the need for some location context I searched google for the right map. On Maps Etc. I found what I needed; a map of the American Colonies in 1754. I found it interesting that the image included smaller maps of the British colonies in 1689 and in 1763. It was helpful in understanding how the American Colonies changed in less than a hundred years.

One thing that stood out when comparing the maps was how much the British territory expanded after the French and Indian War. France lost, big time. If you take a look at the map in 1689 France had huge territorial holdings. After the war, their hold in America had virtually been reduced to nothing.

Studying the 1754 map made it clear how close my family lived near the French territory. It gave me an inkling as to what their day to day lives may have looked like.

Maps are powerful tools. Make sure to use them in your research.

Thank you for reading.

J.R. Lowe

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