Genealogy Blog

More Maps for Free

04 Jun 2014

For many years, USGenWeb has been providing a valuable resource to the genealogical community. Volunteers have transcribed untold records across the  country and make them available to the public for free. The USGenWeb is promoting their new website for maps.

The United States Digital Map Library was started in 1999 to provide access to “useful, readable, high quality maps.” The library contains both archival maps, and newer maps created from new and historical information. Maps are subdivided into three groups.


US Digital Map Library


The first group, US Maps, contains maps of national interest. Included here are an 1845 map of North America, two maps that show U.S. principal meridians and baselines and a excerpts from a 1910 reference atlas of the world that includes maps of each state and of many large cities.

The second section, State and County Maps, breaks the country down in to the fifty states. By clicking on a state (either on a U.S. map or in the text links next to it), one is brought to a page that shows what is available for that particular state. In addition to state and county maps, some states have local maps as well. Not all states have maps.

The third section is a very interesting one. It contains Indian Land Cessions to the United States. These are treaty maps compiled by Charles C. Royce. They were published as the second part of the Eighteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, 1896­–97, published in 1899.

While this all is a very worthwhile project, there is a part of the website that I find troubling. Their Submissions section includes information in the copyright area that is incorrect and misleading. They say that “In placing maps in the Archives, the following general guidelines have been used. . .” The first guideline reads (emphasis theirs):

“ALL items with an ORIGINAL publishing or copyright date prior to 1923 are public domain. Anyone, including the United States Digital Map Library, may use them and distribute them freely.”

This seems to be a strict reading of the copyright law, which is fine and accurate. But it leaves out other, equally important, points of law. Copyright is not the only issue here. I am not a lawyer, but my understanding is that one can distribute images only if one is in possession of the original map/atlas/etc. and makes original images of them. Those images are then copyrightable to the creator. Many of these maps are located in libraries, archives, and other repositories or on other websites.  Users typically must adhere to terms of use (whether using a website or visiting a repository in person). Without permission from the owner of the original, one opens one’s self up to legal problems. One cannot, for example, go into a library and take photographs of maps and atlases willy-nilly and publish them online. The Legal Genealogist, Judy G. Russell, writes extensively on the topics of copyright as well as terms of use. Check out her blog, and before you make images of out-of-copyright material available online, be certain to consult an attorney to be certain you aren’t putting yourself at risk.

Mocavo Gold Search in 5 Easy Steps

13 Mar 2014

Mocavo Gold makes it easy to search for your ancestors, share your discoveries, and preserve your family history for future generations to enjoy. This step-by-step guide will walk you through getting the most out of your Mocavo Gold search experience.

1. On the Mocavo menu bar, click search.

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2. Fill out the Mocavo Gold search form

Our simple search form allows you to enter your ancestor’s first name, last name, and any relevant keywords. If you are not exactly sure what you’re looking for, keep your search as broad as possible. Once you fill in the search fields, click the green search button to reveal your results.

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The most relevant results will display first. If you do not get any relevant results on your first attempt, try broadening your search by only entering an ancestor’s first and last name, then use our faceted search filters to narrow down your results.

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3. Narrow down your results with faceted search filters

Take advantage of our filtering options on the left side of the screen.

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You can filter by record category, date, and location.

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For example, let’s say you only want to look at birth records. First click on the section entitled “Birth, Marriage, Death.”

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Then, you can filter your results even further by clicking on the category entitled “Birth.” Accordingly, your search results list will only display records categorized as birth records. You can select multiple search filters at once.

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Still not sure about how to use faceted search?
Check out our 1 minute tutorial here.

4. View more results on your page

If you want to view more results on each page, simply click on 10, 25, or 50 results per page

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In your list of results, you will see a document preview, which gives you a sneak-peek at where your ancestor’s name is found in the document.

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Once you click on a search result, you will be redirected to either a website, a record index page, or a high-definition image of the record. Your search keywords will be highlighted in the document, so you can easily scan the record for relevant information.

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5. Print, share, or download documents

You can easily share documents you find with family members and friends through social media or email. Simply click on any of the mediums under “share discovery” and share away!

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Printing or downloading a document or image is easy! Simply click on the corresponding green button at the top of the page.

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If you have any other questions about the Mocavo Gold search experience, please do not hesitate to contact our support team at We would be happy to help!

Having trouble accessing Mocavo Gold features during our free access weekend? Check out this blog post for some handy troubleshooting tips.

How to Search (Infographic)

18 Sep 2012

We’d like you to get the most out of your ancestry search! This infographic should help and if you have any further questions, email us at

Some Quick Tips on Using Mocavo

17 Mar 2011

Searching on Mocavo is designed to be easy and fast. However, there are many things our search engine can do so here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Just like other major search engines, capitalization doesn’t matter.
  • Put names in quotes for best results. If you search for “John Smith”, Mocavo knows to also try “Smith John” so there’s no need to run two searches. This is critical as many sites put the last name first.
  • Mocavo knows how to jump over middle names and initials. If you search for “Mary Carter”, you will also get results for (more…)