The Newberry Library Updates on the Status of the Atlas of Historical County Boundaries

Earlier this year I was so disappointed to find that one of my favorite resources for land research had been disabled. Noting that there was an email list that you could sign up to get important updates on the status… I quickly signed up.  And today some great news just appeared in my inbox!

From The Newberry Library:

Thank you for your continued interest in the Newberry’s Atlas of Historical County Boundaries.

We’re writing to let you know that the we’ve made progress with our plan to restore and improve the interactive map feature on the site. In the years since the Atlas site launched, there has been an explosion of geospatial software, tools, and services. We’ve had many options to review and consider the past few months. We’re pleased to say that we’ve signed an agreement with Galecia Group, the developers who are also working on an upgrade of our Chicago Ancestors site. We anticipate a prototype of the new Atlas in early 2016 and hope to launch the site for researchers in Spring 2016.

The Atlas is an important tool for many researchers and we appreciate the response we’ve had from you in recent months. We’re excited to bring these important maps back for you, with a fresh new interface. In the meantime, other important Atlas of Historical County Boundaries features (such as downloadable shape files, chronologies, bibliographies, metadata, and commentaries) are still accessible.

If you have questions or would like to opt out of receiving future notifications about the Atlas of Historical County Boundaries, please contact


While I have taken advantage of the shapefiles and incorporated them into Google Earth… I found it a bit more clunky than I would have liked to pass on to someone just getting started.  I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out to see what further developments are released in the coming months. In the meantime, I’ll keep using a combination of the shapefiles and my ever handy book, Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses, 1790-1920 by William Dollarhide.  It’s a must in my library at home.

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