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Clare GenMaps  - mapping surnames, monuments and places on historical and modern maps

About this project:

We had been working with Rainer Kosbi for quite some time in trying to develop a visual approach to identifying surname distribution in County Clare in the 19th Century. Rainer had developed map systems for us in the past, and had also helped us create surname frequency tables based on historic data (see below).

We knew we had extensive lists of Clare people from the 1820s, 1850s and 1901, and we knew the townland and parish in which they lived. In October 2012 Rainer developed a new version of his maps system based on the ESRI ArcGIS Flex API, and he was sure that this new maps system would allow him to show the surname distribution as ‘hotspots’ on ‘heatmaps’. The new maps use Bing, Open Street map and ESRI map sets, and using the data we had collected for the three primary genealogy sources (see below), Rainer subsequently developed surname distribution heatmaps for each of the three sources.

These heatmaps are now incorporated in a brand new version of our online map system, the Clare Genmaps, utilising the ESRI API, and allowing ESRI, Bing and Open Street Maps to be overlaid with historical maps of Clare from 1842. The new maps system uses many of the same controls as our GMaps and allows us to represent surname distribution from the 1820s Tithes, 1855 Griffiiths and 1901 Census datasets as interactive heatmaps linked to the extensive data on our website.

Sexton heatmap
The above map shows surname distribution for 'Sexton' in the 1901 Census.

Background:

Griffiths Valuations (online February 2000)
Our index to the Griffiths’s Valuations was compiled over a number of years by students from Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick, as a work-experience project with Clare County Library and was placed online in February 2004.

1901 Census (online 2004)
Our index to the 1901 census was uploaded to the website also in 2004. A major part of the work on the census was carried out by CLASP trainees, and without the input of CLASP, the library would not have been in a position to undertake such a vast project as details had to be input for each of the 112,334 people living in the county on census night. CLASP began transcribing the census in 1997. Trainees printed out census records from the library’s microfilm copies and keyed the records into a database. If a query arose, for example if a record was difficult to decipher, the printouts would be checked against the microfilm reels. Records were then passed to the library’s website team for conversion, design and uploading to the library website.

Tithe Applotment Books (online July 2005 )
Transcription of the original Tithe records by volunteers from all over the world began in 2004, and the records were finally uploaded to the website in July 2005.

SVG maps (online March 2006)
The first version of our online maps was launched online in March 2006. Developed for the library by Rainer Kosbi, it utilised Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) technology which necessitated the downloading and installation of the Adobe SVG Viewer which integrated with a web browser as a plug-in. The online SVG Ordnance Survey maps would only work with the Internet Explorer browser.

Surnames Frequency (August 2007)
In August 2007, with the assistance of Rainer Kosbi, we created online tables showing the frequency and spread of surnames in County Clare over a period of almost 100 years. A table was created for the Census of Population of 1901, Griffith's Valuation of 1855 and the Tithe Applotment Books compiled between 1823 and 1837. The 1901 census frequency table shows that McMahon and McNamara were the most common names in the county at the time, for instance. Each entry was in turn linked to the appropriate primary source data.

MapBrowser (April 2010)
MapBrowser was an integrated maps system developed by Rainer Kosbi in April 2010 as an alternative to his SVG maps system. MapBrowser runs in the majority of browsers using Adobe's Flash Player on Windows and Apple Mac personal computers

GMaps (Jan 2012)
In January 2012 we launched the Clare GMaps, based on the Google Map system, allowing Google Maps and satellite views to be overlaid with historical maps of Clare from 1842. This new system, developed by Rainer Kosbi, uses many of the same controls as Google Maps, and it is linked it to the thousands of pages on the website dealing with the archaeology, history and administrative divisions of County Clare.

Anthony Edwards,
Senior Executive Librarian,
July 2013.


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