Monday, June 8, 2009

Working in RootsMagic 4 - Post 24: Mapping

Previous posts in this series are listed in Working in RootsMagic 4 - Summary of Posts.

In this post, I want to explore the Mapping function in RootsMagic 4. The RootsMagic 4 Overview says:

"RootsMagic 4 now lets you view your family on a map. Simply select a family member from the list and RootsMagic will display the map (anywhere in the world), with pins where that person's events (birth, marriage, death, burial, etc) occurred."

The database I imported into RootsMagic 4 two months ago has a mishmash of entries in the locality fields. I have some entries that read "prob. Uxbridge, Worcester, MA" and "Hilperton, Wiltshire, ENGLAND (PR);" some entries spell out County, some just have Co., some leave it out. Many of my "sources" in this database are included in the locality field - such as the "(PR)" above, meaning "Public Records"). I need to "resolve" all of these locality items somehow so that they are consistent and accurate.

I started in the "Person Page" and found the "Tools" menu item for "Mapping:"

When I clicked on "Mapping," a generic page with the index list of Places in my database was on the left and a map of the USA was in the middle:

I clicked on one of my home addresses, 2119 30th Street and the map found the address but did not show a stick pin:

With this map, and any map in this system, I could zoom in or out, use the "magic hand" to move the map around, and could select 2D views (Road, Aerial, Birds Eye) or 3D views (uses Microsoft Bing! technology).

I wanted a map of Hilperton in Wiltshire, so I scrolled down the list (I could just start typing Hilp... too) and saw:

In the screen above, note that the end of the Hilperton place name was "(PR)" (meaning public records) so RM4 was forgiving of the non-locality note.

What about a word in front of the place name? I scrolled down to "prob. Uxbridge, Worcester, MA" and clicked on it and saw:

It seems forgiving there too. What about a church or cemetery name before the town or county? I clicked on "Zion Lutheran Church, Oldwick, Tewksbury, Hunterdon, NJ" and it found it:

What about a misspelling of a place name? I have a misspelled "Westminister, Worcester, MA" in my database. Yep, it found "Westminster." If there had been a real "Westminister" (rather than "Westminster") in the county, then I'm sure it would have found that instead.

What about places that were once in one county and are now in another? I checked several and it put the town in the right place, even though it was the wrong county. My example was Charlestown, Middlesex County, MA which was once Charlestown, Suffolk County, MA.

What about places that are no longer an entity? I have many entries for Norfolk County in Ontario, but some say "Ontario," some say "Canada West," some say "Upper Canada." The map found only the ones that said "Ontario."

I expected to find the ability to select a person and then see the places the were born, married and died. The list on the left of the page has two options hiding in the heading - "Places" or "People." I selected "People" and the alphabetical list of persons in my database appeared. I picked Henry Austin Carringer:

The program found four places in the Facts for Henry Austin Carringer, a birth in Mercer County PA, a residence in Louisa County, IA, a residence in Boulder County, CO, and a death in San Diego CA. It did not note the marriage in Cheyenne County KS. I had input residences in Mercer, Louisa, Boulder and San Diego, but not a residence in Cheyenne County KS. I wonder if it only shows stickpins for residences of a person, not the birth, marriage and death? Or perhaps because there is no Gazetteer entry for Wano (which doesn't exist now) perhaps it ignored the entry? I checked for Devier J. Smith and it had stickpins for birth, marriage and death places.

The stickpins are not color coded for events - it would be nice if they were.

I had hoped to find some way to click on a "Map" button on icon on the "Edit Person" page so that the map of the selected person's places would show up immediately, but I didn't find one. Maybe I missed it. If it is not there, I suggest that they add it rather than force the user to go to the Mapping function and find the person's name in the name index.

I am really excited that the Mapping feature in RootsMagic 4 does not reject entries with misspellings, non-existent places, or places with the word "County" or "Co.", or places with some source notes after the place name. It found a place for all of those flaws in my database.

Family Tree Maker 2009 and Legacy Family Tree 7 want me to "resolve" all of my place names, but to do that I need to add the source information to my Source files before I can "resolve" them. This is a real plus for me in my situation - if I use RootsMagic 4 as my preferred genealogy software program, then I can resolve my source problems and resolve my place names at the same time.


Ryan said...

Hello! I just discovered your blog, and as a brand new user of RootsMagic 4 (I used PAF for several years), I'm looking forward to having the time to look through your series. Judging by the couple of posts I've looked over so far, it looks to be very helpful. Thanks!

Bill West said...

I've awarded you the "Janice Brown Puckerbrush Award for Excellence".
You can pick it up over at

Bill West

Untangled Family Roots said...


Thank you so much for all your work on teaching us this program. I did buy it. A little splurge for me. I shouldn't have, but I did, and now I'm busy learning all the things it can do. I had not however discovered this little tool. I love it. I've always done my tracing maps by hand. Thanks again.

Geoff said...

Randy - actually in Legacy 7, you don't have to manually resolve the location before it will plot. When you click on the Mapping button in the toolbar, Legacy 7 will attempt to automatically plot all of the places for that person. If there are any places it cannot automatically plot, it will let you use Legacy's Geo-Location Database to help resolve the place.

Geoff Rasmussen,

Anonymous said...

I work for the City of Boston as a planner for the Charlestown neighborhood (your posting came in as a Google Alert). You are correct- Charlestown was its own city in Middlesex County since colonial times until it was annexed by Boston (in Suffolk County) in the 1800's.