Move A Pin and Other Mapping Improvements

Posted by jhodnett on February 5, 2009 in Family Trees

Just to introduce myself, I’m Jen Curry, a product manager here at Ancestry. Last month I started working full-time on the maps feature, which is why this post is coming from me instead of Kenny. As most of you know, last November we launched a new feature to Ancestry Member Trees which allows you to see the life events of an ancestor in your tree on a map.  Thanks to the numerous comments and feedback on the new feature,  we’ve made a few improvements.

Improved Place Finding
We’ve improved how the map finds and displays locations.  Now, if you search for a place, the map does a much better job of finding the correct location and placing the pin where it should be. Additionally, we’ve improved the software’s ability to find international locations. Now, when I click on my great-grandfather’s birth location, a pin is placed on the city of St. Helier, Channel Islands, UK. Before the improvement, the mapping feature wasn’t able to find St. Helier.

Move A Life Event Pin 
A number of people asked for the ability to move a pin to a different location and we’ve added that as well.  When you click on a life event pin on the map, you’ll now see a link that says “move pin”.  After you click the link, the pin will get a little bigger and another message window will open, allowing you to “save” or “cancel” if you move the pin.  You can now click on the pin while holding the left mouse button and drag it to the new location. 


When you have it where you want it, click the “save” button to keep the pin in the new location.  If you change your mind, click the “cancel” button and the pin will return to the original location.  After you’ve saved the pin to a new location, the pin will appear in the new location the next time you come back to that event.

Suggestions or Feedback?
As mentioned in the previous post regarding the mapping feature, we welcome feedback and suggestions for improvement.  We have some great plans for the maps feature and we want to know that we’re heading in the right direction, so please let us know what you think by adding a comment.


1 Alan FowlerFebruary 5, 2009 at 3:31 pm

You have given a hint in my ancestry search which sounds correct but for the fact that you that one Albert Edmund Born 1873/74 was born in Stepney, MIDDLESEX, England. Can this be correct? Stepney postcode is E1 and therefore must be in London? Alan Fowler

2 kpFebruary 5, 2009 at 6:35 pm

I’m curious did you did any similar changes for FTM 2009?


3 MikeFebruary 5, 2009 at 7:32 pm

Personally I am not interested in this map feature or most anything tied to trees.

But there is a utility that myself and perhaps many other subscribers would find useful, namely a deed platting utility where one could input the coordinates from a deed to generate a printable plat. And it would be better yet if one could then be able to (try to) place that plat on a USGS topo map.

4 barry cundillFebruary 6, 2009 at 2:26 am

Before all the improvements I found it tricky to get at stuff but eventuaslly found such gems as book subscription in the papers
Now I sem to be able to find very little at all thats not American based I’m not happy with the present system

5 Gary MangumFebruary 6, 2009 at 1:36 pm

Now that you have this great mapping feature, I would love to have the ability to enter addresses and GPS coordinates into my Tree. Right now I have to add them into the text of notes and there is no link to see them on a map or anything.

I just visited an area where some of my ancestors lived and gathered addresses and GPS coordinates of their old residences as well as burial plots. Why isn’t there a way to enter an actual address location in a tree event? If it is a “residence” event, shouldn’t I be able to enter a valid address instead of just city,county,country? And if you put this sort of functionality in to your trees it would be great to be able to enter GPS coordinates for burial locations as well.


6 CarolynFebruary 8, 2009 at 12:37 pm

I agree with the deed platting utility. That would do so cool if you could locate our ancestor’s land by putting in the info from deed copies. Thanks.
But, yeah, sounds great. Thanks for the updates!

7 MikeFebruary 9, 2009 at 9:13 am

From what it looks like, this is an improvement to the web-site product. Will these changes make it into a patch for FTM2009? I would really like to be able to move a pin there, as well (among other fixes I would like to see).

8 Robert A BartlettFebruary 25, 2009 at 10:56 am

Type your comment here.

Itrying to find the family tree to Frank Otis Bartlett, what and where do I find it?

9 C MuellerFebruary 28, 2009 at 12:30 pm

I hate he map. Please tell me how to use the site without it. It is a hindrance to me.
C Mueller

10 M BurnsMarch 1, 2009 at 8:36 am

I’ve found so many different spellings for some of my ancestors names. I’d like to be able to better track their history through land taxes and therefore be certain that I indeed have the correct name for that individual.
Those census takers “God Bless them all” had some beautiful but difficult to read handwriting.
I do like the new style Ancestry is using though. It has helped me locate more ancestors with accuracy.

11 MaryMarch 1, 2009 at 11:35 am

Great mapping feature! How can I print it clearly?

12 R. MutsMarch 2, 2009 at 8:32 am

Could the activation of this mapping tool be optional? Adding information now takes longer, since there’s an additional screen to wait for.

Please make this optional, maybe even opt-in?

Usability in my opinion just took a dive…

13 Jenn CurryMarch 2, 2009 at 10:10 am

A number of people have wondered how to avoid using the mapping feature. This can be accomplished by clicking on the life event link, not the location link. The only way to access the map is by clicking on the underlined place name associated with a life event. If you’d like to edit your ancestor’s life event, click on the title of the life event, not the location and you’ll be able to edit it the same as before. Hope this helps.

14 dcribb53March 3, 2009 at 2:33 pm

Is there a way to type the life event associatd with the place?

Also, I cannot get the map to print as a whole. All I can get is the upper left hand corner of the screen.

15 SueMarch 5, 2009 at 10:22 am

Love the map… Would like to print it and add the events to the location…

16 DaveMarch 7, 2009 at 2:14 am

My ancestor came from Wing in Buckinghamshire, not wing in Rutland.
a) why has the map not recognised this
b) how can I select the alternate rather than moving the pin

17 JerryMarch 8, 2009 at 5:56 pm

Major problem with Ancestry Places. The search was for Amesbury, Essex, Massachusetts, but the “pin” showed up in the middle of nowhere a few miles NW of Manhattan, Kansas!

18 Catherine Nicholas-LambertMarch 9, 2009 at 5:49 pm

I am looking for information on Fred Skinner’s (my husband’s great grandfather) death. He died of TB (around 1920) and I was hoping your map could point out any sanitariums or hospitals with their addresses to help me find his death record.

19 Bev RoyerMarch 10, 2009 at 1:32 am

This is an interesting feature. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to work with counties and townships well, so unless the map can adjust to the Township, County, State format that a lot of people use in their Places, I don’t see it being very useful. It would be more helpful if there were township outlines on the maps and if, when the map came up, it showed what state you were in, so you could at least tell if the map was correct on that. Good luck!

20 Emma KarlssonMarch 10, 2009 at 4:43 pm

Hello, I would like to add the different maps from my family tree into my family book that I am creating. Is that possible to do that in an easy way? It would also be interesting if I could see for example all my fathers relatives in the same map. Then I could follow the moving pattern for that side of the tree. I would also like to add this moving pattern tree in the family book. Otherwise I really like the map! Hopefully you could give me an answer to the questions above, thanks! Emma

21 Gloria RahejaMarch 10, 2009 at 4:43 pm

I would find it very helpful if I could click on a location in a profile and receive a list of all the people in my tree in that location in a given year (or at least a given census year). I wonder if this feature could be introduced. Thanks.

22 stephen misselMarch 12, 2009 at 7:45 pm

Being able to move the pins is a big improvement as your locations are often off by miles. For people with slow loading, they might try the TCP optimizer available at . It sure helped my pages load more quickly.

23 stephen misselMarch 12, 2009 at 7:50 pm

Oops! I should have listed the website as and look for the TCP optimizer. It helps your computer load pages faster.

24 Jeannette VaillancourtMarch 13, 2009 at 2:17 pm

Gosh, this is great, good work

25 Shelley CookMarch 13, 2009 at 5:36 pm

I’d like a feature where I can type in a location and find all of the life events associated for any member of my family tree within a certain mile radius. If I go to England, there are several people I could research. But if I type in oxford, Ancestry maps could tell me that within a 50 mile radius are 2 locations family members have lived or had a life event. Suddenly I can pop in and do some quick research!

26 Mary-Lee GillilandMarch 15, 2009 at 4:25 pm

Just opened a map for first time-how did it happen, what did I press? Someone commented that it wastes (precious)time by diverting one. True? or is it a fluke depending on what button I bumped? Now that I have this one, I’d like to save it to person but don’t see any save option. MLGilliland Please answer as I won’t know how to get back to this!

27 DavidMarch 17, 2009 at 1:06 am

The Map feature is great except that almost every place in my sources include the county, as part of the address and therfore almost every source that is mapped is incorrect or can not be found and I have to manually move. Is there any way to fix this?

28 marjorie muncillMarch 17, 2009 at 6:28 pm

I am listed as dead on and I am very much alive…how do I change this Please help

29 henry barkerMarch 18, 2009 at 11:51 am

would like to see ahnentafel generations return to ancestry trees.

30 Pauline CramerMarch 20, 2009 at 11:44 am

I am very annoyed when the map comes up. I suggest that links to the map feature should have a label that would ask the user if they would like to see a map. If Henry was born in some little town of a particular county, it might be interesting and useful to look a map that show the precise location. But it is not helpful and it is distracting to have a map come up if all you know is the name of the state.

For example, I was just now absorbed in studying someone’s family tree, and I see Henry xxx, birth 1830, in South Carolina, has a link. I would like to see some citation about his birth in 1830 in South Carolina.
Instead of what I am expecting to see, there is a time consuming delay while loads a map of South Carolina.

I have gotten caught in this particular trap several times now. This always brings up a very negative emotion in me. When I am focused on finding more information about a particular person, and I click on a link and, instead of finding a useful citation with information about Henry being born, I get a map of a state – that is a distraction that derails my thoughts. That is not a user-friendly design.

31 Pauline CramerMarch 20, 2009 at 11:45 am

Type your comment here.

32 Terrell ThompsonMarch 23, 2009 at 4:15 am

The map is nice but it is in the way. Add a tab for “map” but don’t let it pop up in my way while i am looking for something else.

33 Grace LeonardMarch 23, 2009 at 12:01 pm

The map location for “Caldwell, Essex County, New Jersey” ended up in Kansas!

34 Ken AndersonMarch 23, 2009 at 9:57 pm

When will this feature from be available on

35 bill kunstMarch 25, 2009 at 11:01 am

i am finding out a lot of info on our grandparents but bergachan and slaviki,lithuania are showing at the same place?? north braddock, pa. is in the wrong spot. i was born in the same town in which they lived. thanks, bill

36 Pauline CramerMarch 28, 2009 at 1:28 am

It would be very much appreciated if there were some way to turn off the map feature, and turn it on, only if the user wanted to look at a map.

Pauline Cramer

37 familybuddyMarch 28, 2009 at 8:38 am

I love the map.
It seems to have trouble locating things though. I clicked to find one that had city, county, state, and it could only find the city library (tho the map showed city, county and state). It didn’t recognize one place b/c of a comma before the county.
I’d like a way to center the map pin I’m looking at and zoom in and out keeping it centered, rather than having to navigate up and down and back and forth trying to find the pin after I zoom in.
I too would like to be able to find land according to the deed description.

38 Dacotah01March 28, 2009 at 7:40 pm

Interesting, but buggy. It put the map pin for Custer Township, Beadle County, South Dakota, somewhere northwest of Pierre in Hughes County–about 120-130 miles off.

I, too, would like to see a utility to plot the legal description of the land.

39 jeanMarch 29, 2009 at 6:42 pm

The east coast is shown to the left of the page.

40 mary forneyMarch 29, 2009 at 8:39 pm

i also need to know how to print this without the column on the left.

41 hilda shackletonMarch 31, 2009 at 8:31 pm

hi I have just accessed the maps feature but i did not know How I did it. I think this is a great idea, it puts the everything into place. for instance I did not know that Horton in Bradford was almost at city centre incredible since I grew up there. a question though is it possible to add the maps to certain members of the family tree I think it would be a great addition to the information for future generations thanks

42 Beth MindlinApril 1, 2009 at 5:37 am

I accidently found this feature. How wonderful.

43 Lorraine BoucherApril 3, 2009 at 1:21 am

Nothing happens when I click a location to try to move it. It simply describes the location with no option to move. Can someone help with this? Thanks.

44 JosieApril 5, 2009 at 10:46 am

I want to save pins that do not directly apply to a person, but mark significant place relationships and events.

45 Lossi Dell MusickApril 5, 2009 at 10:56 pm

Charles William “Bill” Musick was born in Dawson County, Texas (NOT New Mexico)

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