[APG Public List] mapping and research

L. Boswell laboswell at rogers.com
Mon Nov 1 12:20:18 MDT 2010

in a couple of words, yes, very much so.  It's not extraneous in any sense, and 
 I don't understand how you think it involves "taking the extra time".  The 
degree of precision is of course going to match the same level you employ.   
Coordinates can be as precise, or as approximate as you care to make them.  Just 
allows a point of reference that translates digitally and manually across 
multiple tools, including but not limited to maps.  Have a "general location" 
than use "general coordinates."

But I think if you used mapping to the degree I do, then you would appreciate 
the value.  Location, even a "general location" in most cases is critical 
information, with our without coordinates. Using a reference set of numbers 
simply allows you to do more with that location information.   Do you do any 
family "history" type research?

But even using the reasons that you listed as to why you think location of a 
piece of land is important, so you do as I do, use historic maps and records to 
identify those items.  Often that means going to historical overlays or later 
maps that do show latitude and longitude, or approximating (or precisely 
finding) location on an equivalent modern map.  Once I do that I simply mark 
down the coordinates for anything that I "located" by those methods.   Then I 
can calculate distances etc in various ways.   Finding coordinates is not a 
difficult, time consuming process.  And of course the researcher defines how 
precise or general a level those coordinates are being employed at.  Useful to 
mark even an approximate location (as long as that's made clear).

I don't know why you think it takes extra time?  I take it you've never used 
coordinates or you wouldn't come to that conclusion.  It's a "time saver".  It 
marks that "USEFUL information" covered by historic maps allowing it to then be 
used in a digital environment across maps, employing some amazing tools.  Think 
of it as a geographic file reference number that carries more information and 
can be input into future references and overlays.  

But I don't think this is for you Michael, though I think at some point as more 
and more digitized mapping tools emerge you'll take another look at it.


From: Michael Hait <michael.hait at hotmail.com>
To: apgpubliclist at apgen.org
Sent: Mon, November 1, 2010 1:04:32 PM
Subject: Re: [APG Public List] mapping and research

I use historic maps in nearly every project.  But these historic maps  do not 
have latitude/longitude on them usually.  I also use land records in  nearly 
every project, which allows me to place the land on the maps (at least in  a 
general sense).  My point is that discovering the general location  (especially 
when dealing with a 200-acre farm) is an important step, but  pinpointing the 
exact longitude/latitude seems like an extraneous step that does  not add 
anything to the research.
I look at it this way – location of a piece of land is important for the  
following reasons:
- records jurisdiction
- relation to topographical landmarks
- distance to county courthouses
- distance to nearest town
- location of nearest church
- identities of neighbors
- identifying possible migration routes (through relation to bodies of  water, 
historic trails, etc)
- (and of course other more creative uses I am sure)
All  of these tasks, however, can be completed using historic records and 
historic  maps, including identifying topographical landmarks, etc.  But how 
does  taking the extra time and effort to pinpoint a precise latitude/longitude  
provide additional USEFUL information, not covered by the historic  

Michael  Hait
michael.hait at hotmail.com
From: L. Boswell 
Sent: Monday, November 01, 2010 12:50 PM
To: Michael Hait ; apgpubliclist at apgen.org 
Subject: mapping and research
sorry,  forgot to change the subject in that last one. 
Good  point John, and GPS coordinates mean much the same thing (I just like to 
remind  people that this isn't based on something new!)
Michael,  got to thinking here.  How important is mapping and the use of maps to 
you  in your research?   I barely move without referring to a map when I  
working on a file.   More likely multiple maps.  If your answer  is "pretty 
important" than the use of coordinates is simply going to be a good  tool to 
have on hand.  If you never work with maps, then I can see your  point.  But I 
don't see how I could do effective research without  referencing things to a 
location on a map of some sort
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