As one-place studiers, not only are we interested in the people but also the local, or more particularly, geographical study of a place. How has your place changed over the centuries? How do you document those changes in your study?
Some places registered with the Society are geographically small and some much larger. Do you have old maps and photographs for your place? What other paraphernalia have you collated to begin your geographical study?
People with one-place studies in England will probably be aware of the tithe maps and apportionments. This provides a geographical snapshot of a place in time, its inhabitants and the 'lie of the land'. Coupled with modern day OS maps, a comparison can be made to 'ring the changes', or are there any? Rural communities may not have changed much over the centuries, aside from the different functions of the properties in the area. Are the village school, the public house, the post office and local shop still open? Probably not....
Are the other documents you could collect relating the geography of your study? Where are they held? Time to add to that '2015 Wish List'?
Getting started with your OPS in the U.S. is a bit different if you are unfamiliar with the structure of the country. The country is divided up into States-counties-towns/cities and then into "neighborhoods." This neighborhood phenomenon is popular in areas like Boston where there is "Boston proper" and then what is considered Boston but isn't really. I know, it's confusing. Hyde Park, Dorchester, South Boston (aka Southie), and Roxbury are all considered part of Boston. "Boston proper" is small enough to walk through, Boston is not. So, first thing when seeking to define a study in the US is to figure out exactly where your study is located and how to start.
The US Census Bureau has a website at http://www.census.gov/geography.html that will help to define your OPS geographically. Each State has a website as does each county and town. Drilling down will help you figure out your exact location parameters. Once you have figured that out, Ancestry's The Red Book, available on their site for free (with subscription) or on eBay and the like, is a tremendous help for figuring out where extant documents are as they pertain to your study. Universities often have tremendous resources as does the Library of Congress (www.loc.gov). Have fun!
Kirsty Gray and Christine Sharbrough