Where did that boundary line go?

Boundary lines matter a lot in genealogy research. You don’t want to waste any of your research time hunting down an event in a county that didn’t even exist at the time. Or perhaps your folks lived closer to a courthouse in the next county over, so eloped there.  Even if they lived in the same town for 50 years, the county boundary lines may have changed, so who knows which county courthouse their records are in now! It’s important to know where those state and county boundaries were at the time period you are researching.

I’ve been checking back now and then to see if and when the Atlas of Historical County Boundaries, hosted by The Newberry Library and the Dr. William M. Scholl Center for American History & Culture, will be available again. It’s had a posted notice saying “temporarily unavailable” for a while. But, as you know, I’m relatively curious, so I went looking for other sites that might do the same.


I came across another great source for historical US county boundary change information that, quite honestly, I’d forgotten: Randy Majors’ Historical U.S. County Boundary Maps. (He also has a Historical World Boundary Maps)

By entering a present day place and a historical year or date (either exact day or just a year), the county boundaries will be produced on the map for that date, along with an information box about the county. If you want to quickly see 10 years before or after, just click the < or > button on either side of the date box.  There are tips and notes on the page on getting the most out of using the map as well.

but wait! there’s more!

And an extremely helpful feature is the ability to also “Show Research Locations”, which will add an icon to the surrounding areas for courthouses, cemeteries, churches, and libraries, depending on whether you choose one or all of the options. The closer in you zoom, the more items appear on your map. How helpful will that be for your next research trip to the area!

Check it out. This is really a helpful tool for location research:


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