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Review of S&N's 1898 Bartholomew's Atlas CD

by Dick Eastman

Bartholomew's Atlas is a standard reference in England, useful for many purposes besides genealogy. These atlases of England and Wales were printed for many years, showing details of every street in the country. The maps were printed at a scale of four miles to an inch. The 1898 edition includes town and city street maps, railways, and a lot of printed statistics, along with a placename index that lists 35,000 locations. Looking for an ancestor's location after finding him or her in the census records?

The 1898 Bartholomew's Atlas includes many streets no longer in existence, either through development or World War II bombing.

The 1898 Bartholomew's Atlas on CD-ROM is in Adobe Acrobat format. That's good, as it can be used on Windows systems as well as Macintosh, Linux and several varieties of UNIX. The CD-ROM set includes all the needed software for Windows. "Readers" for other operating systems can be downloaded at no charge from Adobe's Web site.

This CD-ROM contains scanned images from the original printed books. These images are very detailed, full-color maps, scanned at 300 dots per inch. I had some difficulty reading them on the screen when first displayed. However, the Adobe software allows the user to zoom in and out as needed. When zooming in to higher-power magnification, the words became a lot clearer. As I continued to zoom in further, the smaller details became visible. At 1600% magnification, I was able to clearly see every road, footpath and small hill. These maps are really detailed! The first CD-ROM contains topographic maps of all England and Wales.

The second CD-ROM contains detailed street maps of all the larger cities. The two CD-ROM disks contained scanned images of the original books published in 1898. The index is very detailed but is simply a scanned image of the original printed index. As a result, there are no hyperlinks directly to the pages referenced. Still, I found it easy to navigate around these CD-ROM disks. The images were very detailed and easy to view. I did find it much easier to zoom in on the on-screen version to see fine details. In fact, I could display a very small neighborhood on the screen in a manner to see every street. The maps do not display individual houses, however.

Printing also was easy, the same as in any modern Windows program. A black and white printer will produce readable pictures, but you probably will prefer to print these on a color inkjet printer. I printed a Birmingham street map on a Hewlett-Packard 694c inkjet printer; street names were readable if I used a magnifying glass.

When using Adobe Acrobat, the only method of printing, I could not find any method of zooming in and printing a small section of the map. I could only print a portion of an entire map; I suspect this printed area equates to the same area as the Atlas shows on 8 by 10.5 inches of its actual page, the whole of which might measure 12 by 15 inches or so. However, I did find that I could zoom in on an on-screen display, make a screen capture (using ALT-PrintScreen) and then paste the zoomed-in image into a word processor or a paintbrush program. Then I could easily print the more detailed image from that instead of printing from Adobe Acrobat. The end result was a very detailed printout of a subsection of a map. The disadvantage was that it required a few more steps to complete.

The 1898 Bartholomew's Atlas is a valuable resource for anyone searching for ancestors' homes of that period. You can easily locate their addresses and then see the surroundings in which they lived. The original books are almost impossible to find these days. If you can find the atlas for sale, it probably is rather expensive. It also consumes a large space on your bookshelf.

S&N Genealogy's CD-ROM version of the 1898 Bartholomew's Atlas is much more practical; it weighs a half ounce, is easier to use and only costs £19.95 (about $32.00 U.S. funds) plus shipping.

This article is from Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter and is copyright 2002 by Richard W. Eastman. It is re-published here with the permission of the author. About the author: Dick Eastman has been involved in genealogy for more than 30 years. He has worked in the computer industry for more than 40 years in hardware, software, and managerial positions.