Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Using RootsMapper and FamilySearch Family Tree to See Ancestral Migration Paths

Jana Last posed Tech Tuesday: ~ Ya, This is Pretty Cool about six weeks ago, and I agree - it is pretty cool!  I had some time today to try it out and wanted to show you what I found:

RootsMapper is at, and the opening screen looks like this:

To do anything with RootsMapper, you need to have a FamilySearch account (they're free, just register and respond to an email, and you're in) and have yourself in the FamilySearch Family Tree (and it helps to have ancestors in the FSFT for several generations back in time).

There is a red FAQ button on the screen that provides more information about RootsMapper at

I logged into FamilySearch, and RootsMapper came back on and named Me as the "Root Person" with my FamilySearch Family Tree ID number (LH5N-K6D):

The screen above showed me a blue line from New England to California, and my name with my vital information in a popup box.

There is an entry field with a dropdown menu to the left of the green "run" button at the top of the screen above.  I selected 5 generations, and clicked on the green "Run" button (this is important - nothing happens until you do this!).

It took several seconds (maybe 30?) and the map below appeared:

Each dot and line on the screen is color coded - blue for males, and pink for females.  There is a number inside each dot - that represents the number of generations back from the Root Person.  In this case, I have a person with a "5" in France and two with "5" in England.

The user can click on the small X in the upper right-hand corner of the popup box with the name in it to close the popup box.

The user can zoom in using the mouse wheel, so I did that and saw:

Zooming in further on New England and the upper Midwest, I can see the migration trails easily:

I decided to do 8 generations (that's the maximum), and I saw (after zooming out):

And zooming in to see the area abetween Wisconsin and New Jersey:

On the screen above, I clicked on one of the dots in Ontario - the one for Mary Jane Hutchinson -  and it shows me the birth and death information in the FamilySearch Family Tree for her. 

RootsMapper only shows birth and death locations for each ancestor back up to 8 generations from the Root Person in the FamilySearch Family Tree.  Note that it doesn't identify intermediate migration stops on an ancestor's life's journey, only the beginning and the end.

I poked around clicking on the pink and blue dots, and I see quite a few wrong or at least questionable locations shown on the 8 generation Rootsmapper field.  That means there is more work for me to do in the FamilySearch Family Tree correcting and adding information in the Family Tree for my ancestors.

To print the map, the user has to make a screen shot and save it as an image file.  On my Windows computer, I clicked on F11to go full screen and then PrintScreen (PrtScr key), which put it into the clipboard, copied it (Ctrl-V) to a word processor window, right-clicked on the image and did a Save As with a file name to a file folder.

All in all, I agree with Jana - this is a pretty cool application that interacts with the FamilySearch Family Tree to show a user his/her ancestral birth and death localities.

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Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver

1 comment:

Jana Iverson Last said...

Hi Randy, thanks for mentioning my blog post about RootsMapper.

It really is a pretty fun website. And now they are FamilySearch certified, which is awesome!