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The New York State Library, New York State Archives, New York Public Library, New-York Historical Society, and most university and public libraries in major cities have extensive map collections. The Family History Library has few original maps but has many on microfilm and microfiche.
Detailed patent maps may show where early settlers lived. An inventory of these is David Ellicott Evans Mix, Catalogue of Maps and Surveys in the Offices of the Secretary of State, State Engineer and Surveyor and Comptroller and the New York State Library (Albany, New York: Charles van Benthuysen, 1859; FHL film 947104 item 5; or 947,853, item 2). The New York State Archives also has a finding aid that lists the location of specific patent maps.
Street and ward maps are extremely helpful in doing research in city records. Successful census research often depends on finding maps that show ward boundaries, enumeration districts, or election districts. A large collection of pre-1900 ward maps for every major American city, including Albany, Brooklyn, Buffalo, New York, and Rochester, is Ward Maps of United States Cities (FHL film 1377700; microfiche 6016554–782). A helpful atlas for New York City research is Hagstrom Map Co., Hagstrom New York City 5 Borough Atlas, 22 edition.(Maspeth, New York: Hagstrom Map, 1987; FHL book Q 974.71 E7h).
An important set of maps at the Library of Congress is available at the Family History Library on microfiche. The Land Ownership Map Collection contains 109 maps for New York counties, showing the names of landowners and the location of their property (FHL fiche 6079710–818). They date from 1668–1899 but most are from the 1850s. They are listed in the Family History Library Catalog Locality Search under UNITED STATES - MAPS. A description of each map is found in Richard W. Stephenson, Land Ownership Maps: A Checklist of Nineteenth Century United States County Maps in the Library of Congress (Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 1967; FHL book 973 A3Loc).
For maps showing county and town formation in New York, see:
Thorndale, William and William Dollarhide. Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses, 1790–1920. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1987. (FHL book 973 X2th.)
County Formations and Minor Civil Divisions of the State of New York. Series B, Number 4. Salt Lake City, Utah: The Genealogical Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1978. (FHL book Ref 929.1 G286gs Series B, no. 4; fiche 6046845.)
For maps showing the county boundary changes in the New York City area, see:
Thorne, Kathryn Ford, compiler. New York Atlas of Historical County Boundaries. New York, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993. (FHL book 974.7 E7a.) Maps show when and where each county changed boundaries from colonial times to 1990.
To find 7.5-, 15-, and 30-minute topographic quadrangle maps for New York published between 1884 and 1972, use:
United States Geological Survey. Topographic Maps of the United States: Historical Reference File. Suitland, Maryland: National Archives and Records Service, 1978. The maps are arranged alphabetically by the name of the quadrangle:
- Adams-Buffalo (FHL film 1433814)
- Buffalo-Cambridge (FHL film 1433815)
- Cuyler-Grindstone (FHL film 1433816)
- Grindstone-Ithaca (FHL film 1433817)
- Kasoag-Monticello (FHL film 1433818)
- Mt. Marcy-Owla Head (FHL film 1433819)
- Oxford-Port Jarvis (FHL film 1433820)
- Rochester-Roxbury (FHL film 1433821)
- Stoney Creek-Yankee Lake (FHL film 1433822)
To get the name of the quadrangle, use the Omni Gazetteer of the United States of America, mentioned in the "Gazetteers" section of this outline.
You can order topographic maps from:
Branch of Distribution U.S. Geological Survey
507 National Center
Reston, VA 22092
United States/Canadian Map Service
P.O. Box 249
Neenah, WI 54957-0249
A bibliography of atlases and maps found in county histories is Albert Hazen Wright, A Check List of New York State County Maps Published 1779–1945 (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University 1965; not at FHL).
For a list of the county atlases of New York see:
Wright, Albert Hazen. A Check List of the County Atlases of New York. Ithaca, New York: A. H. Wright, 1943. (FHL book 974.7 A1 #244 fiche 609391.) This is study number 4 of New York Historical Source Studies.
You can order free maps of individual counties from local tourist bureaus and chambers of commerce. Most county highway departments sell county maps for a dollar or two. You can obtain a current price list with addresses called "Information on County Highway Maps" from:
Mapping Services Bureau
New York State Department of Transportation
Building 4, Room 105, State Office Building Campus
1220 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12232
You can buy modern commercial maps of New York cities and counties from:
Hagstrom Map Company, Incorporated
46-35 54th Road
Maspeth, NY 11278
Clifton Park, NY 12065
Marshall Penn-York Company
538 Erie Boulevard West
Syracuse, NY 13204
The following state atlases may also be helpful to you:
Burr, David H. An Atlas of the State of New York. New York, NY: David H. Burr, 1829. Reprint, Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University, 1970. (FHL film 813651 items 3–4.)
Bien, Joseph R. Atlas of the State of New York. New York, New York: J. Bien and Company, 1895. (FHL film 1870120) This includes some of the original land patents.
New York State Atlas. Albany, New York: New York State Department of Transportation, 1983. (FHL book Atlas 974.7 E7n.)
DeLorme Mapping Company, New York State Atlas & Gazetteer. Freeport, Maine: DeLorme Mapping, 1988. (FHL book Q 974.7 E7m.)
DeLorme Mapping Co. Upstate New York Street Maps. Freeport, Maine: DeLorme Mapping, 1988. (FHL book Q 974.7 E7d.) This is an atlas of upstate urban areas from Middletown north to Plattsburgh, and Albany west to Buffalo. It has more than 80 cities and towns in all.
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