Background Maps

Most of our customers are interested in creating a picture of their ancestor’s land holdings with a map as a backdrop.  There are three ways to get maps.

  • Use a USGS topographic map image or your own graphic image.
  • Purchase custom background maps from Direct Line Software
  • Purchase pre-built map sets for certain Virginia counties.

Topographic or Other Map Images

Topographic map

Scanned versions of USGS 24K scale topographic maps are available free from the USGS TopoView web site.  They even offer historical topo maps too. There are also web sites that can make up custom topographic map files for you.  Whatever you choose, DeedMapper can accept a graphic file in TIFF, JPEG, BMP, GIF, or PNG format.  (If you have a period map and a scanner you can create your own graphic file, too.)

We recommend this approach when you know the land’s location to within a few miles and there aren’t too many parcels in your project.  If you are uncertain as to the location, or you have lots of parcels you may be better off with our custom maps (see below).

To use a graphic file, all you need to do is to put it in the folder with your deed file.  DeedMapper will recognize the file.  To enable its use you give DeedMapper two numbers: 1) the dots per inch of the graphic image, and 2) the feet per inch of the map.  In the case of 24K scale USGS topographic maps, these two numbers are usually 300 dpi, and 2000 ft/in.

It’s that simple!  DeedMapper takes care of scaling the graphic image and your parcels.

Custom Background Maps

Custom map showing major/minor roads and watercourses

We can make up custom maps to your particular needs. The maps are based on data from the USGS, and show streams, roads, and town/county/state boundary lines.   The maps lack feature names (creek names, route numbers, town names, etc.) but you can easily add these as “annotations”.

Each map covers a rectangular area that is approximately 14 miles wide by 18 miles tall, i.e. 15 minutes of latitude and longitude.  It typically takes a number of maps to cover a research area, the exact number depending on the size of the area being researched and where the lines of latitude and longitude happen to fall.

If you’d like to purchase custom maps it’s best to give us a call or send us an email describing your needs, i.e. state, county, and watercourses you need coverage for.  We can then determine the best combination of maps that will cover your research area.  

 Pre-built map sets

Land patents placed on a pre-built set of maps for a county

Colonial patents for many counties of Virginia have been partially or completely mapped out with DeedMapper.  You’ll find the deed files for these counties in our Deed Data Pool.  

We offer corresponding county-based background maps for many of these deed files for just $20 each.  Some of the map sets cover more than one county.  A complete list of available counties and detailed pricing information is found here

You can purchase map sets here, and we’ll email you the files.