When I’m working on a person’s life I like to plot out their movements from one part of the city to another, and to see where they were in relation to other family members or to the locations of significant events. Used in combination with records and photos of old buildings, or even occasionally old paintings, I find this really helps me to get inside their story.
So I wanted to share with you a brilliant online resource I was introduced to recently.
The National Libraries of Scotland website has a wonderful collection of maps, and although some of the resources are just for Scotland, others are not.
The two resources I’m finding most useful are Find by Place and the Side by Side Viewer, both accessed via that link to the main page. It’s worth spending some time playing around with the settings to see the different kinds of maps that are available.
In Side by Side you can view an old map in split screen whilst simultaneously viewing the same location in modern-day satellite view. Whatever you do with one side (zoom, point to a specific building with the cursor, move the map, etc) happens to the other.
You can find the exact map of part of Oxford I’ve screen-grabbed above here. Try playing about with the zoom and cursor, and moving the map around, to see how easy it is to use this. You can also use the drop-down menus above each side to change the style of map you see. This is a great resource for helping make sense of street layouts that have changed over the years.