Posted by Jessica Latinović on May 9, 2016 in Research

As family historians, maps are among the most visually interesting records we can use in our day-to-day research. Maps can help us discover a pattern in movements across county or state boundaries, and help us better understand the geography of a particular area.

Certified Genealogists, Pamela Boyer Sayre and Rick Sayre share why maps can reveal more than meets the eye, along with their favorite online and offline map sources that you can use in your family history research.

Explore some of the resources they discuss in the video,

Learn more about Rick and Pamela, explore their services and connect with them here.

Hear from more knowledgeable experts by visiting our ‘Family History Expert Series’ playlist on YouTube.

Jessica Latinović

Jessica serves as U.S. Social Media Manager for Ancestry.


  1. Tom Boyer

    Don’t know if this feedback is supposed to be about the “Maps” posting. It’s not. I am disappointed in finding ancestor hints from other members trees that take me to trees that are “private”. If a member does not want their info available to others, then they should not have their trees available in the public hints. It’s ok for them to see hints from my tree.

  2. Monika

    I left a message on the blog regarding the “LifeStory Enhancements” of April 7, 2016, yesterday, before this blog came out. Since I believe that this is an even better place to make my comments, I shall repeat myself: Geographical Correctness vs Historical Correctness – Before you impose “geographical correctness” on European countries (the importance of the historical accuracy is something ACOM does not seem to have a clue about), clean up your act right here at home. As I clean up my profile pages, I look at records you are offering from Massachusetts where you say that “Dorchester” is in Suffolk County in the early 1600s. Then you offer records that state that Dorchester is in Norfolk County in the 1600s. Now add the “geographical correctness” which you are imposing on our records in LifeStory, which refers to the geography as it exists in 2016. History lesson for you: Suffolk County was created by the Massachusetts General Court in 1643. So to say that e.g., Dorchester is located in Suffolk County in 1630 is historically and geographically incorrect. Norfolk County was not created until 1793, so to claim that Dorchester was located in Norfolk County in the early 1700s, as some of your records indicate, is equally incorrect. Geographically, Dorchester is today a historic neighborhood in Boston, Massachusetts. It was annexed to Boston in 1870. So, if you want to be “geographically accurate” when you encroach onto people’s trees with your LifeStory, you would have to say that every one who was born in Dorchester between 1620 and 1870, was born in Boston, Massachusetts. Do you realize how stupid that would be if you did that? Now, can you take this one step further and realize that it is equally stupid if you insist on doing that to villages and cities in Europe??? The most accurate system is, in my opinion, to “let the record stand”. With other words, if, e.g., the Census was conducted/taken by the AUSTRIAN government, and, in these census records it refers to the citizens/ancestors in that town as being AUSTRIAN citizens, and these towns and regions are considered part of AUSTRIA at the time the Census was taken, it is inappropriate for you to decide that these Austrian citizens were born in the Czech Republic simply because geographic changes occurred hundreds of years after these individuals were born in these regions. Regardless of what the “trend du jour” is in genealogy at any given time, you should not impose “geographical correctness” onto our trees if it is more important to us to be historically correct.

  3. Teressa

    Tom — that’s just the way Ancestry sets it up. I choose to have my tree private, but I don’t control whether others that I haven’t invited can see there are hints which might relate to them. If someone does, and emails me, I’m usually happy to have found a family member and willing to share.

    Now, onto comments about maps … wow. I had no idea the UVA census browser existed! Thanks for the information. I expect to spend several happy hours exploring the census in a new way.

  4. Lynn

    Teressa – Just a note that the Privacy Settings of your tree do allow you to “Also prevent your tree from being found in searches.” It is a check box under the “Private Tree” setting. Checking that, I think, prevents the situation that Tom was writing about.

  5. Christine

    The “Map It!” part of the University of Virginia Census Browser doesn’t work for me. I tried three different browsers (Chrome, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge) and it didn’t do anything 🙁

  6. Madeleine

    Bravo Monika, you have put your points across very well and I heartily endorse them. I don’t know if this has ever been notified to us by Ancestry in some way, if it has I have missed it, but I have found a way to turn Life Story off. If you go to Tree Settings there is a tick box beneath the Tree Description box. I have unticked the box and my Life Story page looks like a differently presented version of the Facts page.

  7. Monika

    @Madeleine. You my hero! With Bee’s input, I had already removed the “histerical insights” (purposely misspelled!) and the Family Events, but I did not realize that you can cut it down even further. That will help a bit, even though the LifeStory page is now nothing but unnecessary duplication of data with a many times incorect map. But @ Tom Boyer, until I can block LiufeStory completely, my trees (like the trees of so many other people) will remain “Private” and also “Prevent from being found in searches”. I honor my ancestors and their lives which were affected by history far more than by geography. I will not have people who copy data from my trees distort history with the help of

  8. Peggy

    I have the ‘DNA’ results from about 5 yrs ago.
    This shows me nothing. There is no map
    There is a page that shows numbers but the explanation is worthless and meaningless
    I paid for both DNA test and membership and WOW did I get ripped off

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