Monday, September 13, 2010

Genealogical Invitation to the National Map

I am always surprised at the overall lack of geographic knowledge in the world. But as genealogists, we should be immersed in the world of maps. I am reminded of the patron recently, who I may have already used as an example, who refused to look at a family with the same names as the ones she was searching for simply because they "lived in Ohio" and her family lived in Pennsylvania. But, her family lived in Mercer County, Pennsylvania about ten miles from the state line with Ohio. Pretty silly? Yes, especially since the "big city" in the area is Youngstown, Ohio. Even though we have such examples, it is comforting to know that maps are becoming even more available all the time.

Quoting from the USGS website,
As one of the cornerstones of the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) National Geospatial Program, The National Map is a collaborative effort among the USGS and other Federal, State, and local partners to improve and deliver topographic information for the Nation. It has many uses ranging from recreation to scientific analysis to emergency response. The National Map is easily accessible for display on the Web, as products and services, and as downloadable data. The geographic information available from The National Map includes orthoimagery (aerial photographs), elevation, geographic names, hydrography, boundaries, transportation, structures, and land cover. Other types of geographic information can be added within the viewer or brought in with The National Map data into a Geographic Information System to create specific types of maps or map views. The National Map is a significant contribution to the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) and currently is being transformed to better serve the geospatial community by providing high quality, integrated geospatial data and improved products and services including new generation digital topographic maps.
 The current coverage of the U.S. Topo maps is here. Again quoting from the USGS website, "US Topo maps are available free on the Web. Each map quadrangle is constructed in GeoPDF® format from key layers of geographic data – orthoimagery, roads, geographic names, contours and hydrographic features - found in The National Map, which is a nationwide collection of integrated data from local, State, Federal, and other sources."

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