New GeneaGem: Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States by Charles O. Paullin & John K. Wright – Digitized!

Two GeneaGems in two days doesn’t happen very often. However, Charles O’ Paullin’s and John K. Wright’s Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States, published in 1932, definitely qualifies.

One might expect with a 1932 publication date the this book would be under copyright restrictions for several more years. In fact, it is not and there are several websites where this terrific book – containing almost 700 maps – can be viewed online for free.

Internet Archive – Bibliotheque de Sciences Po

Internet Archive – University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign

and Digital Scholarship Lab – University of Richmond, which, in my opinion, is the best version, given that is it interactive, rather than just a digitized book.

That is the version I will be sharing today.

First, we have the Table of Contents:

The Table of Contents contains live links that will take the reader to a new page. I randomly chose BOUNDARIES 1607- 1927 to view.

Immediately, one map caught my eye – Island in Bay of Fundy, which is home to Calais, Washington, Maine. I have ancestors who lived on Campobello, Adams and Deer Islands, Canada.

Campobello Island is clearly seen in the middle, with Deer Island just to its north. Adams Island is one of the small islands, just north of Deer Island and is no longer inhabited. However, my ancestors lived on that island for the first half of the 19th century.

This map depicts the proposed American-Canadian borders between 1801 and 1817.

Have you ever wondered what the 1793 plan of the district of Columbia looked like? Here it is:

The map even notes that it is to be the permanent residence of Congress after the year 1800.

Other city plans include Boston, 1775, New York, 1776, Philadelphia, 1776, Charleston, 1780, Baltimore, 1801 and new Orleans, 1803.

These are just two examples of the maps found in this atlas.

The 18 categories in the Table of Contents show the remarkable variety in types of maps.

Curious, I browsed Colleges, Universities and churches, 1775-1890 and then chose the Congregational Church map. It was no surprise to see it heavily concentrated in New England.

Look closely, though, at New Jersey and South Carolina. There was one Congregational Church in each of those places! My guess is that a group of New Englanders relocated and built their own churches in order to continue the practice of their faith.

One more example – Did you ancestors explore and/or settle in the early American West between 1803 and 1852? If yes, then check out this nifty map:

The legend names the parties and the years they migrated west corresponding to the routes each traveled.

Maps are one of the vital keys that help explain our ancestors’ lives and where we might find records created along the way.

Paullin’s and Wright’s Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States is a real GeneaGem!




One thought on “New GeneaGem: Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States by Charles O. Paullin & John K. Wright – Digitized!”

  1. Thank you for pointing out this book. I downloaded the book from the Internet Archive but also enjoyed the interactive version, too!

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