Maps are a great tool for house researchers, especially when dealing with missing records or those that are hard to find. Maps can show old, out of use historical names for local places, changing borders, or land owners from past centuries. They can be just the thing you need to get your research back on track when you’ve hit a stumbling block.
A great collection of maps with a New England focus is available online from the Boston Public Library. The maps in the physical collection are a combination of the Norman B. Leventhal collection and the Boston Public Library’s collection. The library has a collection of 200,000 maps and 5,000 atlases dating as far back as the 15th century. There are many maps online showing Boston, Massachusetts and New England.
From the main page select the Collections link at the top. You can search by titles, creator or subjects. And you can choose to search everything or narrow your search to Digital Collections or Internet Archive. Check out the Collections Overview to get a sense of what is included in the collection.
With a quick search I discovered the online collection has 255 maps of Massachusetts, 30 of New Hampshire, 45 of Rhode Island, 35 of Connecticut, 21 of Vermont and 59 of Maine.
Try searching for the name of your town. I found two bird’s eye view maps of Medway, Massachusetts dating to 1887. There were 8 maps of Bristol County, Massachusetts starting with 1852 and ending with 1884. There are also nice bird’s eye view maps from 1881 of Guilford, Wallingford, Connecticut. There’s also a Henry Walling map of Newport County, Rhode Island dating to 1850.
You can zoom in to get details view of the maps or you can download them for non-commercial use.
Try it out and you just may find a view of your house from the 19th century.
The Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library can be found online at https://www.leventhalmap.org.