Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Monday, April 20, 2015

Video on overlaying the Public Land Survey on Google Earth

This is the first video in a short series about how to research your ancestors using maps. I give specific instructions on how to see the area where your ancestors lived and how you can use this to find more information about them. This particular video begins with some comments about Google Earth, then moves to locating and overlaying the exact boundaries of a parcel.

The idea behind this particular presentation is the fact that new online tools allow you to identify a parcel of property from historical records and then, using the legal description of the property, apply the boundaries to a map or satellite image of the actual location. I also explore other programs that provide online maps of property boundaries.

This particular presentation deals with the United States Public Land Survey System aka the PLSS or Rectangular Survey System used in the states other than the original colonies and Texas. 

Here are the Links to the main websites referenced:

·      Google Earth --
·      Newberry Atlas of Historical County Boundaries --
·      Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Records –
· --

I also suggest looking at the following websites:

·      Tutorial on the Public Land Survey System Descriptions --
·      Montana Cadastral Mapping --
·      Iowa Counties Historic Atlases --
·      Michigan County Histories and Atlases --
·      U. S. Indexed County Land Ownership Maps, 1860 – 1918 on

If you want to get into more complex mapping, you can use the Plat Plotter -- to plot metes and bounds maps. I will be doing a class in May on this subject.  

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