Friday, March 06, 2009

From the Last Meeting of the Temecula Genealogy Society

One of the highlights of speaking at different genealogy societies is how much I benefit from hearing their announcements, projects, and other speakers that may provide a mini-class prior to my presentation. I always like attending the meetings of different societies and getting to see what they do, how they do it and get ideas.

Last month I was able to go to my local society, Temecula Valley Genealogy Society. I was excited to hear Norma Storrs Keating talk on the subject of Using Maps Effectively. She provided a lot of information about books with maps and history that may be useful to your research. When I returned home, I went on eBay and picked up some of these books rather inexpensively, like for under $5.00.

One of the books,actually a series, she recommended was The Shaping of America. A Geographical Perspective on 500 Years of History by D. W. Meinig. The back cover of volume 1 states:

"This entirely fresh interpretation of American history by a renowned historical geographer is the first in a... series. Meinig here focuses on colonial America examining how an immense diversity of ethnic and religious groups-Europeans, Africans, American Indians-ultimately created a set of distinct regional societies. Richly illustrated with more than forty specially prepared maps and contemporary illustrations, this volume prompts us to rethink the settling of America."

Another of her recommendations was The Atlas of American History, James Truslow Adams, Editor. This is an older book, mine is copywrited in 1943, but what great maps it contains that would be useful in your research. The original dust jacket made the point,

"Thus much of our history is concerned with places; and to understand what happened, we must also know where it happened."

64 historians surprised the drawing of the 147 maps included in this book. In this books are maps as diverse as places important to the War of 1812 to what Detroit looked like in the late 1700's. The book starts with the topography of America in 1491 and proceeds to early explorations, colonies, and maps of individual states and so much more. One of the treasures in this book can be found on page 27 where there is a land patents and manors map for the 18th and 19th century New York. The last map is the United States as it was in 1912.

Maps can really help us better understand our ancestor's place and time. I would highly recommend the above two books as a way of better understanding your American ancestor's life.

No comments: