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Map It! - Using Historical Maps for Family Research

Have you wondered just where in Eastern Europe your ancestors were from, in a geographic sense? Have border changes confused you, making it hard to know what country it was where your town was located, and during what time period?

This course is designed to help with these questions and more. We will plot the towns of your ancestors on a small scale historical map and then go to maps of larger scale and look at what kinds of features surrounded the towns or villages of your ancestors to get a better grasp of the environment and general vicinity of their places of residence.

Course Outline

Organizational outline for Mapping the Towns of Our Ancestors:

Class 1. To become familiar with the Layout of Eastern Europe ca. 1900
Class 2. To Locate names and use Google translate; To learn how to type foreign languages using online writer
Class 3. Interpreting the maps: Town/Shtetl, village, hamlet, Creating and reproducing your ancestor's world

Skills you will learn

To map the towns of your ancestors, learn about map scale, to plot the towns, and unlock the secrets of map notation.


  • Electronic handouts - basic principles of geography
  • Tutorials - website
  • Guides to cartographic symbols on historical maps
  • Tutorials - gazetteer
  • Use of Google translate - map words/names
  • Learn to use speaker button on Google translate - town pronunciation


This course is best taken using a desktop computer, although laptops will work. Smaller devices like tablets or ipads can be problematic.

Study hours per week will vary, but two hours minimum is suggested. There are assignments to complete which are part of this time committment.

Three Interactive Lectures via Zoom


The cost is $75.

Contact Information

For any questions, email the instructor at

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