Monday, March 2, 2009

Ancestral Atlas: Post 1 - First Look

I read Dick Eastman's third report from the Who Do You Think You Are? Live! conference in London last night, and noted his comments about the new online web site, Ancestral Atlas. See Dick's post for all of the details.

The web site home page is - here is what the screen looks like:

The home page says that:

"Over recent years genealogy has seen a rapid growth in the use of maps to illustrate the location of ancestors. All these applications, whether directly through the use of Google Maps or proprietary software products, provide an exciting and instructive way of showing genealogical data. However, none of these applications offer an opportunity to store, search and share family history information in a secure environment with fellow genealogists worldwide."

The things a user can do on this site include:

* Add your family history to the map at the location of the event (birth, death, marriage etc) and choose if you want the world to see the data
* All data added and visible is searchable by date, event type, name and location
* Learn about the "context" of your ancestors (maps can show homes, hospitals, churches, battlefields, places of work and so on. All of which could be a new source of data for your research)
* Cut out irrelevant data by focusing on a particular location
* Communicate with fellow researchers (perhaps looking at the same locations and the same names)
Earn an income from the data you add to Ancestral Atlas"

OK, I signed up (I'll bet you could guess that I would!). I clicked on the "Sign up for FREE" tab and the registration screen appeared, which I filled in:

I finished it up, chose the free subscription and not the 15 pounds for a year's subscription, and was directed to check my email for a registration link, did that and was on the web site within seconds and signed in as a registered member.

The screen that appeared was under the Mapping tab and had the Gazetteer tab highlighted on the left sidebar with a default map of England showing. Here I could enter a location - I chose to enter my father's home town, Leominster in the United States, as shown below:

I clicked the "Find Location" button and a list appeared in the left sidebar with Leominster, MA, USA in the list - see below:

I clicked on the "Leominster, MA, USA" item and the Google map with Leominster in the middle of the map appeared:

The balloon with "Leominster MA, USA" in it disappeared quickly. I noted that there were stick pins for Syracuse NY, Lowell MA, Gloucester MA and Barnstable Town MA already on the map - someone else has added these apparently.

Using the Google Map tool, I can zoom in on Leominster by using the Zoom scale in the upper left corner of the map. A street map of Leominster is shown below:

All of the familiar Google Map features work - the Road Map, the Satellite Map, the Hybrid Map, the "magic hand" to move around on the map, the Up, Down, Left, and Right arrows to move the map up or down, etc.

The Mapping features work - how do we get our Ancestors and Events into the system? That's the subject of the next post.

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