Recently I discovered a cool new feature on the Ancestry website. It was a way to pinpoint where your ancestors lived in the world using a digital map. This allows you to visually see where your family lived and how your family wound up where you currently live today. I’m not sure exactly how old this feature is, but it is definitely a cool tool that visually represents immigration and growth within a family line.
In writing my family history book, I have been trying to figure out a way to include a map in order to illustrate where our family has come from. It’s an essential visual component that I want to include, because it will showcase the cities, counties or countries (if no concise information is available) that my ancestors lived in, and those areas can provide clues as to how they lived and why they left.
Exploring the physical locations of your ancestors can lead you to find places where they used to work, frequently visited for socialization or even lived. All of these clues provide insight into their environment and may give a reason for why they did what they did. Did they leave because of a lack of work in the area? Was it because of war? Was there a famine and rationing was involved? Did something occur in their home town that forced them to flee? All of these questions could potentially be answered by exploring their environments.
For example, part of my husband’s family came to live in Eastern Ontario as part of the United Empire Loyalists, a group of individuals who fought for the British crown during the American revolution. They originated from across Europe, settled in New England and then after the end of the Revolutionary war, they fled to Canada where they were given land to begin their lives as an allowance from the Crown. I could trace his family by marking on the map where they began, where they originally settled, and where they eventually wound up.
These facts require visual representation to allow someone to see their path of travel throughout their lifetime. It provides the descendants with more information about their line, and can provide more clues in certain areas that require more in depth research. Try out this feature and let me know what you think!