Maps are some of the best resources for house history researchers when other documentation is lacking. A land ownership map can show you who was living in your home at a particular time. Conversely, if you find a map and your house is missing then you know it didn’t exist before that time.
The Library of Congress website has a superb collection of resources in its Digital Collections. There you will find a group of Panoramic maps. They are also known as bird’s eye view maps because they show a town from a close but elevated perspective. Because the maps are two-dimensional they really give a feel for what the town as a whole and individual buildings looked like. These particular maps don’t provide the home owner’s names but if you know your house existed during a particular year it will give you a great feel for how it and the surrounding street looked. The maps are from the mid 18th century to the early 19th century.
You can search by keyword or browse by geographic location, subject, title or the creator of the map if you know the name. You are able to zoom in and out of the maps for very fine detail. You can even download them to your computer.
You’ll find these resources for the Northeast:
- Maine – 30 maps
- Vermont – 29 maps
- New Hampshire – 47 maps
- Massachusetts – 132 maps
- Rhode Island – 11 maps
- Connecticut – 62 maps
- New York City – 211 maps
- New York State – 204 maps
- Pennsylvania – 229 maps
- New Jersey – 46 maps
Here are some Panoramic Map highlights to get you started: