Family maps and migration routes can sometimes uncover new record finds and answer brick wall questions. It’s fast and simple to use these free tech tools to map your family’s history! I used them to track my ancestors as they trekked from the eastern seaboard to the Midwestern United States and found some fantastic leads!
There are two online treasures I have just discovered. FamilySearch and MyHeritage family trees can now be mapped with some neat interactive tools. MyHeritage just launched their PedigreeMap saying it is an “innovative way to view your family history,” and I think they are right. I have used migration maps to help me overcome brick walls and questions in my research for years. Using these free online tools have made it really fun and not difficult at all.
Creating Family Maps and Migration Routes at MyHeritage
PedigreeMap is free for all MyHeritage users. To access it, log on or create a MyHeritage account. If you are new to MyHeritage, you will be prompted to begin creating your free family tree when you click Sign up at the top right corner of their homepage.
Once you have created your family tree, find it by clicking Family Tree and choosing Manage trees from the pull-down menu.
To use the PedigreeMap feature, choose your family tree from the list and then click on Apps and choose PedigreeMap from the pull-down menu.
You will be able to see a map of the entire world in which your ancestors lives are plotted. From my map below, I can see the large concentration in the eastern half of the United States, but also the location of my ancestors from Europe.
Not only are genealogical events like births, marriages, and deaths plotted on your map, but if you put in a location of a picture, it will plot that too. You will notice, on the left-hand side there is a list of all the places that appear in your family tree. The numbers on the list match up to the number of each place in your family tree.
You can zoom in or zoom out, but my favorite part is clicking a location in the list to the left. For example, if I click on Marion, Linn, another list pops up on the right. This list shows me what events took place in Marion, Linn County, Iowa.
Additionally, I can see major roads, rivers, and hills. I can even click on the satellite view to see the street where my great-grandparents were married!
There are many more wonderful tools on PedigreeMap that you will want to check out. To learn more about all the unique features, read their article here.
Creating Family Maps and Migration Routes with FamilySearch
RootsMapper has been around awhile and is an interactive mapping website that works with FamilySearch. As you know, FamilySearch allows users to create a family tree online and search all their records for free. Like PedigreeMap, you will need to create your free account and family tree at FamilySearch. Then, go to the FamilySearch Apps page and click on RootsMapper. Now, click Get Started.
When you are redirected to the RootsMapper homepage, click Login to begin mapping. You will use your FamilySearch username and password. By clicking Accept, you give permission for RootsMapper to use your FamilySearch tree data.
The interactive map has various features. I particularly like the lines showing both the migration of my paternal line and my maternal line.
Did you notice my paternal line goes right through modern day West Virginia? Several years ago, I had “lost” my Walls family line. By plotting their known whereabouts on a map and connecting the dots, I could see possible migration routes. In fact, during that time frame, they likely took nothing but trails into Monongalia, Virginia. I did a search for records along this path and was surprised to find my fifth great grandfather on a tax roll for Virginia in 1790!
You can play around with the settings and map just one generation, five generations, or even ten generations. The options allow for pins, migration lines, changing the root person you are charting and much, much more.
It really is amazing how innovative genealogy research is today. The Genealogy Gems team delights in sharing new tech tools and tips to help you in your genealogy goals. Why not try out one of these family map and migration route tools today and share with us your thoughts? Leave a comment below!
Did you know that the CEO of FamilySearch International doesn’t have a background in genealogy?
Dennis Brimhall is an experienced CEO–that’s why he was hired. But he admits that some folks even within his own organization weren’t sure about having him at the helm if family history wasn’t his personal passion.
Since then–only two years ago–FamilySearch has grown under Brimhall’s leadership. Dennis’ interest in family history has grown, too! Check out the interview in my Premium Podcast Episode 107, just published. You’ll hear how FamilySearch is reaching out to the 95%+ of the public who is not actively doing genealogy by focusing on the same things that caught Dennis’ interest: stories and photos.
In this episode we also explore a wonderful resource for Missouri genealogical research, and then we make tracks on some railroad history.
Not a Premium member yet? You’re missing out! My website is packed with hours’ worth of Premium podcast episodes like this one as well as a full (and growing!) series of Premium videos. The videos are recordings of some of my most popular presentations, and they’re available to Premium members 24/7 from the comfort of their own computers at the fraction of the cost of attending any major conference! They cover many of my most-requested topics: Google searching, Google Earth, Evernote, using the iPad for genealogy, hard drive organization and more! Check out the full list of membership benefits here.
Recently we heard from Jennifer, who wondered what kinds of genealogy resources she might discover in a state capital.
“I’m tagging along on my husband’s thesis research trip to Columbus, Ohio. I have some ancestors from other parts of Ohio. I was wondering what exactly I could look for in a state’s capital collections/archives that could save me a trip to the city or county? I was thinking that the state capital may have a “gem” that I couldn’t find elsewhere, or even duplicated information [from local repositories]. Do you know?”
Yes, Jennifer is definitely thinking along the right lines! Here’s our advice:
At the state level there are often two key resources: the state library and the state archives. These might be combined. One might be called the state historical society. You just have to look for each state. In Ohio, the Ohio History Connection serves as the state historical society and official state archives. But there is also a state library that serves as a repository for government documents and a resource for other libraries. Each has resources for genealogists, online and in-house. (Click here for digital genealogy content at the state library and here for resources at the Archives/Library of the Ohio History Connection).
In addition, public libraries of major cities often have excellent local history and genealogy collections. This is definitely true of the Columbus Metropolitan Library in Ohio’s state capital!
We suggest you contact librarians before you go and ask what they have that can’t be found anywhere else, both on a state level and for locales you are researching. Often times that will include photograph collections, company (business) collections, and my favorite newspapers on microfilm. If you can formulate specific genealogical questions that you want to try and answer and share those ahead of time with the librarian that will help her guide you toward the unique gems. Every state library and archive is unique, so consulting by phone with the reference librarian is the best way to go.
Here are a few articles on my website that can help you prepare to find genealogy records in a state capital repository or in any major library:
There’s big news regarding the two leading national genealogical organizations in the United States. I’ve got the press release from the Federation of Genealogical Societies here, as well as comments from FamilySearch.
NGS and FGS ANNOUNCE INTENT TO MERGE
August 21, 2019 – Washington, D.C.
In a historic move, the boards of the National Genealogical Society (NGS) and the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) announced today their intent to merge.
The two organizations, both non-profit leaders in the dynamic genealogy industry, will form one consolidated group that will continue to operate as the National Genealogical Society. Both boards approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) earlier this week, and jointly announced the news at the Opening Session of the FGS Family History Conference in Washington, D.C. this morning.
Leaders of both organizations believe this merger will serve the genealogy community by improving support of both individual members and societies in the pursuit of genealogical excellence.
The organizational structure of NGS will be modified to increase functions that support genealogical societies and family organizations.
NGS Annual Conference
Digitization projects of genealogical importance such as the War of 1812 pensions will continue.
The two organizations will continue to operate independently while all details of the merger are completed, no later than October 1, 2020.
Faye Stallings, President of FGS, said: “We are excited about this opportunity to combine with a premier organization that has been in operation since 1903. This will allow for improved and expanded services to help support societies.”
Ben Spratling, President of the NGS, commented, “We look forward to continuing the strong legacy of FGS as a ‘gathering point’ for family historians and societies all across the nation.”
According to FamiySearch, “this significant, historical move will consolidate these two great, influential organizations in the genealogy industry, into one with greater capacity to serve the genealogy community. You can read more about it in their press release published in concert with the opening session of the FGS Conference today in Washington, D.C.”
David Rencher, FamilySearch CGO, said “this is a significant move forward for both organizations. FGS has wanted to better serve individuals, and NGS has been seeking ways to better serve societies. Combining their efforts is a win/win for all genealogists at the local, state and international levels. FamilySearch is thrilled with the leadership of both organizations coming together to better serve all genealogists and family historians.”
Podcasting at the Genealogy Gems booth at the FGS 2018 conference
About FGS: FGS was founded in 1976 and empowers the genealogical and family history community, especially its societies and organizations, by advocating for the preservation of records and providing resources that enable genealogical organizations to succeed in pursuing their missions.
FGS launched the Preserve the Pensions project in 2010 and raised more than $3 million to digitize and make freely available the pension files from the War of 1812. Fundraising was completed for that project in 2016 and the digitization continues.
FGS was also the driving force behind the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors project alongside the National Parks Service.
This free video (below) introduces Trove, The National Library of Australia’s online catalog and digital archive for all things Australian.
If you have roots in Australia, I hope you are using Trove. When I first covered it in the Genealogy Gems podcast a while back, it was a fairly new resource and I shared how it is chock full of 76 million digitized newspaper articles. Now that number exceeds 200 million records! The site has expanded its other content, too. If you haven’t looked for your Aussie roots on Trove recently, you’re really missing out!
Trove helps you find and use resources relating to Australia. It’s more than a search engine. Trove brings together content from libraries, museums, archives and other research organisations and gives you tools to explore and build.
Trove is many things: a community, a set of services, an aggregation of metadata, and a growing repository of fulltext digital resources.
That’s how the site introduces itself, and it sure lives up to its claim. As shown in the video below, Trove lets you search among “zones” of online content:
digitized newspapers; journals, articles and data sets;
online and offline books, audiobooks, theses and pamphlets;
pictures, photos and objects;
music, sound and video files;
maps, atlases, charts and globes;
diaries, letters and personal papers;
people and organizations; and
a zone for user-created lists.
You can browse these zones individually or search them all with a single click. You can search for just items available online, in Australian-only content, or just in libraries you specify. Creating a free user ID allows you to personalize your experience and participate in online forums. From my U.S. perspective, it would be like having the Library of Congress main website and all its offshoots such as Chronicling America rolled up together with WorldCat, ArchiveGrid, Internet Archive and its Wayback Machine–but focused entirely on my country.
When it comes to those nearly-200 million newspaper articles, you can search these by keyword or browse by newspaper title, state, date, category (article, ad or list) or tag. Refine search results by place, title, category, whether illustrated, decade and even the length of the article. You can even sign up to receive alerts to newly-posted material that matches your search criteria.
Remember, newspaper research in genealogy isn’t just about obituaries or wedding anniversary announcements. It’s about understanding the daily lives of our ancestors, and I share more strategies on uncovering these gems in my book How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers (available as an e-book or in print).
Here’s a video from the National Library of Australia with an overview of Trove: