Map My Ancestors (MMA) is an exciting genealogy software tool for family history researchers.
Insights from Migration Maps
Your ancestors' migration paths can provide interesting insights about how they lived. For instance, due to the Homestead Act, the last half of the 19th century saw thousands of pioneers travel west across the United States. Families moved from the cities and towns along the East Coast to the open territory west of the Mississippi. If your ancestors were among the pioneers, it can be fascinating to see where and when they stopped in their journey. Seeing a map of their travels can help you imagine what life must have been like for them.
Immigration to the United States and Canada can also be very interesting when viewed in map format. Tracking the immigration of all your ancestors at once can help you see whether most of your family came from a particular region of the world. Programs like MMA can help you organize your genealogy location information into an interactive virtual map.
What Is Map My Ancestors?
When you enter you family history information into a genealogy software program, the program creates a GEDCOM (GEnealogy Data COMmunication) file. You can use GEDCOM files to share your research with other family members, since most genealogy software applications accept information in this universal format. In addition to names and dates, GEDCOM files typically contain information about locations. These locations might include the birth places and death places of your ancestors, residence information from census files, and locations from wills or other documents.
MMA is a software program that uses the location information in GEDCOM files to create maps of your ancestors' travels. The software works with GoogleMaps and GoogleEarth to show you how your family members have moved around over the years. You can even view migration patterns for specific time periods.
To download Map My Ancestors, you'll need to visit Family Tree Assistant.com. There, you'll have the opportunity to try the software free for 30 days. During the trial period, you'll only be able to map the travels of 20 of your ancestors. After you buy the software, you can conduct unlimited mapping.
MMA is only compatible with Microsoft Windows, so if you're using a Macintosh without Windows capability, you may not be able to use the program. MMA is available for less than $20 after the free trial is over.
Other Mapping Resources
If you don't want to pay for mapping software or you use a Macintosh, you might want to try some of the following alternative mapping resources:
- Access old historical maps to see the world the way your ancestors saw it. You can get copies of these maps, which are based on the designs of the time period, and trace the movement of one or two families over time.
- Although it's slower, you can manually input locations in GoogleMaps to view migration patterns for a family.
- Look at maps for your surname, available from Surname Mapping. These maps show where a surname originated and how it spread throughout various locations.
A New Perspective
Using programs like Map My Ancestors allows genealogists to view their work from a new perspective. You might be surprised what you learn when you look at your family's movement over the years.