Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Ancestral Atlas - Post 2: Events and People

I posted Ancestral Atlas - Post 1: First Look on Saturday to examine and demonstrate features of the new Ancestral Atlas web site - That post provided a look at the home page, the mapping capabilities using Google Maps, and I entered a place name - my father's birthplace, Leominster, Massachusetts.

In this post, I want to work through adding people and events in order to see how easy the site is to use, and how versatile it is.

There are four tabs in the left sidebar (under the green Home header) for Gazetteer, Search, Events and People. We saw how Gazetteer worked in the first post - you input a place name and the map appears.

In order to input information about people and their events (birth, marriage, death, school, gravestone, etc.), you have to start with a specific person. I clicked on the "People" tab and noted the "Add New Person" button just below the Gazetteer and Search tabs:

I clicked on "Add New Person" and the right sidebar opened with several spaces to enter Person information. I added my father (Frederick Seaver) and his gender (Male) as shown below:

There are boxes on the right sidebar for Relationships and Events. In order to add a birth date and birth place, I need to now click on the Event tab in the left sidebar. When I do this, I can then add information for Place (I entered Leominster, MA, and "City" and the program provided the latitude and longitude), Event type (Birth), Date (15 October 1911) and Person (Seaver, Frederick, chosen from a pick list since he was already entered as a Person). Here is the screen before I hit "Save:"

I hit the Save button. Now I wanted to enter his Death date. He died in San Diego, California, so I went to the Gazetteer tab and entered San Diego, San Diego, California, USA. Then I went back to the Event tab, entered my father's Death place, death date, and hit Save. When I was done with that, I went back to the Gazetteer tab and saw:

At this point, I created five more people - Frederick Seaver (my grandfather), Alma Bessie Richmond (my grandmother), Frank Seaver (my great-grandfather), Hattie Hildreth (my great-grandmother) and Betty Carringer (my mother). I entered four more birth, death and marriage dates and places for some of these people. The process took about two minutes for one person.

What else can I do with this site? I could do a Search for a person's name and birth/death dates to see if anybody has entered my people. Nobody has!

The "Search" tab on the left sidebar opens with the selected Map from the Gazetteer, and draws a one-mile circle around the stick-pins for the events. The user can expand the radius using a slide-bar below the Tabs. I slid the bar out to 7 miles. The "Search" information box says:

"The radius search will find Events and Locations based on your Name, Date and map view settings. Choose a new centre for your search by clicking on the map."

I clicked on the "Events" tab and the left sidebar showed all of the Events in the database. I could move to other people on additional pages by using the forward and back arrows under "Your Events." I clicked on the fifth item, "Marriage" and the map showed a popup box that told me that I had two events entered for the chosen location:

After I chose the People tab, I saw six people in the "Your People" list and chose my father (Frederick Seaver) and the right sidebar opened with his event information. I zoomed out the map to show his birth (Leominster MA) and death (San Diego CA) places on the map of the USA, as shown below:

The "Relations" section of the right sidebar doesn't work - perhaps they are still working on it. Therefore, I couldn't connect children to parents, or husbands to wives.

My second impression of Ancestral Atlas is that it is not quite ready for prime time yet. Here's why:

* A serious genealogy research would want to upload a GEDCOM or other file containing thousands of persons, events, dates and localities.

* Inputting names, events, dates and places one at a time is a time waster when it's already been done once by the researcher. A better input interface for a Person - with boxes for Birth, Marriage, Death, Burial, etc. for dates, places and relationships should be implemented.

* Some things don't work - the Relations on the right sidebar for one.

* How do I print something out? How can I add text? How can I add record or photo images?

* A Help function and tutorial would be very useful.

I have not explored the additional benefits of having a subscription to Ancestral Atlas. Perhaps I will subscribe when the capabilities and user interfaces are significantly improved.

1 comment:

bgwiehle said...

Another deficiency of Ancestral Atlas is that the placename index is incomplete - eastern Europe (my area of interest) is particularly barren. Everywhere more specific places such as cemeteries are missing and there doesn't seem to be any way to drill down to the county level when multiple places in a state have the same name. If you can point to it on a map or have the coordinates, maybe you can add it (not tested) but even that won't always be possible.