07 January 2013

Mapping the 2010 Census -- a less cluttered approach that gives great perspective on population density and natural barriers

Wilmington NC area from http://bmander.com/dotmap/index.html
Census and Maps – what a great combination!

Thomas MacEntee (via FB) mentioned this “new” map which I think is brilliant (borrowing that expressing from my UK cousins!). It is a map created by an MIT graduate student who plotted the population for the 2010 census and nothing else.

Obviously, most of us, don’t have much direct need for information from the 2010 census for our genealogical research and where I have found it helpful is that it really gives you insight into the geographic features which have and did influence where people can live.  For example, the absence of population is noted in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey, the Appalachian Mountains, and south central Florida, all because of natural features which prevent people from living in those locations.

These same geographic features also existed at the time of our ancestors.  For example, the Dismal Swamp (straddles the NC/VA border area) is still an area where few live and which influenced not only where people lived and where they did business.  It was not unusual for those living in eastern North Carolina to conduct business in southern Virginia instead of traveling “around” the southern edges of the swamp to conduct the same business elsewhere in NC.  Understanding geography always benefits us when researching our ancestors.

Do check out the detailed map (which you can zoom in and out on) here.

Did something you see on the map give you a “eureka” moment in terms of understanding your ancestors and where they lived?

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