Last Saturday marked the grand opening of the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center’s state-of-the-art new quarters on the third floor of the Boston Public Library's historic McKim Building in Copley Square, Boston. The Map Center was created in 2004 in an unusual public-private agreement between the BPL and map collector-philanthropist Norman Leventhal. This partnership has enabled public access to the 200,000 maps and 5,000 atlases in the Library's collection.
The Boston Public Library is located at 700 Boylston Street, just two blocks from the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Through December 31, the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center presents the exhibition Torn in Two: 150th Anniversary of the Civil War. “This multimedia display takes a geographic and cartographic approach to exploring and illuminating the causes of the conflict, the conduct of the War and how the War was remembered in later years. It showcases fifty historic maps interwoven with forty photographs, paintings, prints, diaries, political cartoons, music and press of the period, all from the Boston Public Library's special collections.”
Many of the Norman B. Leventhal’s Map Center’s resources are available online. Visitors to the website can view the extensive collections and browse by location, subject, date, publisher, author, and projection. Collection highlights include maps of colonial Boston and New England, of the Golden Age of Dutch cartography, and of the American Revolution. Also featured are nineteenth-century county and town land ownership maps, urban fire insurance and real estate atlases, and bird’s-eye views. Three virtual tours are also available: “Boston and Beyond: A Bird's Eye View of New England,” “Faces and Places,” and “Journeys of the Imagination.”
Maps can be downloaded (in moderate and high .jpeg resolution), and copies of maps published prior to 1923 can be purchased; these fine art reproductions are printed with archival inks on archival paper. When viewing a map, you can click on the Buy a Map link. Your choices will include four different print sizes as well as a mug or mousepad.
Final Thoughts on “Tax Photos”
With this issue of The Weekly Genealogist, we conclude our look at taxable property databases that include photographs. Two readers have provided additional websites.
J. Hansen writes: “The "Property Search" link on the auditor’s website for Hamilton County, Ohio (which includes Cincinnati), allows for searches for specific addresses. Be sure to follow the directions and DO NOT put "street," "road," etc., in the search box, just the name of the street where indicated. DO put in E, W, N, S, in the appropriate box. If you click on the various links on the left, you can access a current image, find information about ownership and taxes, and use a zoomable map. The more you explore this site, the more there is to see.”
Another reader writes: “I frequently use the Directory of Iowa Assessors website. I believe 66 of Iowa's 99 counties have information online. Many provide photos of homes and include the years they were built (at least in Fayette County). Some counties may be searched by name or address. The upper right-hand corner contains links to similar databases for a few other Midwestern states, but Iowa seems to have the best coverage.”
More databases of this type are no doubt available. I recommend checking auditor and assessor websites for ancestral towns, cities, and counties of interest.