Controlling What You See
Managing Your Data
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Ancestral Atlas allows you to record and publish the people, places and events that are important to your family history on a map. It also allows you to see other events added to the map by other users showing their family's history. If enough information is added to the site you should eventually be able to see many of the people who lived in specific regions and what they did. Some of these people may have known or worked with your family members, some may even be related to you.
When you come across an event that is of interest to you, Ancestral Atlas allows you to try and contact the user who added that data.
Most of the time, you'll be working on the 'Map Your Data' page. This has four tabs on the left hand side:
Specific information associated with individual events and people will appear when needed on the right hand side of the map.
You can browse the maps and public data added by users without registering but in order to add data you need to be registered. Registration allows us to identify what data you have added to our site. It also allows us to have some control over any possible misuse of the site.
Any data you make public yourself is also marked with your user name so that others can see who added the data and possibly contact you.
Any information you add is, by default, private to you. If you add an event to a map pin, you will be able to see the pin and the associated information but no-one else will - unless you make the event 'public'. However, even then, you cannot make an event public if it breaks our "120 Year Rule" (see What's the "120 Year Rule"?).
If you do make an event public, only information associated with that event is visible to others - this includes the details of the people associated with the event. However, family relationships between people in your family (apart from marriages which are associated with a public event) remain private. You may wish to further secure your data by keeping specific people "Private", i.e. not visible to others, and only release information through the secure messaging service within Ancestral Atlas.
An event can only be made public if it is associated with a deceased person, or if the event took place more than 120 years ago. A person is considered deceased if there is a death event associated with them or if the 'Deceased' tick box is ticked in that person's record.
To register, either click on the 'Register' button that appears in the top right hand corner of the web site, or click on the 'Sign-up for FREE' link in the green menu bar. Either will take you to a new page showing the registration form. Fill out the form, thus:
If any of the fields have been incorrectly filled out, you will be notified of the specific problem and the field in question will be highlighted in red.
Note: If you have to rectify a problem on the form, you will need to re-enter the Anti-Spam code towards the bottom of the form before continuing.
Assuming that all the information provided is valid, we will create an account and notify you that you can now log in. We will also send an email to the email address specified on the form confirming your registration.
In order to log in you must first register (to register, please see How do I register?).
In the top right hand corner of all our web pages, you will see the login strip with two text entry fields followed by two buttons entitled 'LOGIN' and 'REGISTER'.
The text entry fields look like this:
In either case, click on the first box (labelled '[user name]') and enter your user name. Then click on the second box (labelled '[password]') and enter your password. Then select the 'Login' button.
In the top right hand corner of the web site, immediately to the right of the 'Log In' and 'Register' buttons, is the 'Forgot Password?' link. Use this to request a new, temporary, password.
The map pins are coloured as follows:
Yellow pins represent the currently selected location.
Green pins represent a single location that has one or more of your personal events attached to it.
Blue pins represent a single location with other user's public events attached to it.
Red pins represent a single location with no events attached. Red pins are only available when you are editing an event.
Square blocks, such as this: represent clusters of pins that help to de-clutter the map display and make it easier to see the mapping information. Cluster squares can be seen only at certain zoom levels. Their colour indicates what types of map pins have been clustered and is determined using the same colour scheme for the map pins as described above. For example, green indicates that at least one of the map pins clustered has one of your personal events associated with it.
Public events are events that have been flagged as Public by the event's owner - the user who added the event. Public events show up on the map as a blue pin to other users (though the pin is green when the owner views it). When you click on a blue pin, you can view the details of the event and see the name or names of the person or persons the event is associated with. You cannot change any of the information because it is owned by someone else - you can see the user name of the event's owner. If you are a registered user and you are logged in, you can contact the owner of the event via our private messaging system.
We want to encourage you to make as many of your family's events public as possible (without compromising any living person's privacy by strictly enforcing our "120 Year Rule" - see What's the "120 Year Rule"?). The more information you make public, the more information will be shown on the map and the more useful Ancestral Atlas will become. Only when information is shared will we be able to help each other.
Your events are represented on the map with a green pin only when you are logged in. If you're not logged in and the events are 'public' they will be represented on the map with blue pins instead.
Note: If you're not logged in and your events aren't 'public', you won't be able to see them on the map at all.
Chances are that when you look at larger geographical regions, there will be a large number of map pins to show, especially if you're trying to look at pins in a large town or city. If we try to show too many map pins that are gathered around an area it could become difficult or impossible to see or select the pin you need.
Another issue is that the information for each map pin needs to be downloaded from our databases, stored in your browser and then displayed. The problem is that there's a limit to the number of map pins that can be displayed by a browser before it starts to slow down and becomes less responsive.
So we examine where the pins are before they are sent to the browser for display and cluster them together. This not only reduces the number of pins sent but it also makes it easier to view them on the map.
Note: At the most 'zoomed-in' map views we don't cluster map pins. This is so that you can see each individual event location.
The green bar immediately above the map allows you to specify "filters" to reduce the amount of data being shown. By default, no filters have been applied so you'll see all the data available in the area that you're looking at. However, this can contain a lot of irrelevant information - particularly if you're looking at a large geographic area.
So, for example, you can specify that you'd only like to see map pins of events associated with people who have a certain given name or family name, or events that have happened between certain years, or any combination of these. This is done by simply entering the relevant criteria in the boxes provided in the green bar and then selecting the 'Apply' button.
You can also specify the types of events or locations to show by ticking the relevant boxes in the Filter Settings dialog (shown when you click the 'Settings' button in the green bar). These settings are combined with the specified names and years to allow you to narrow your search down even further.
Note: Filters also affect what is displayed in the Events and People lists on the left hand side. If you have specified a filter, the lists will only show events or people that match the filter.
Please also note that as well as showing what filters have been applied, the green bar can also show what Life Maps are currently being shown. This is controlled by the 'Life Maps Mode' toolbar option. For more information on Life Maps, please see Life Maps.
To clear all your filters and to ensure that you can see all the data available:
Do the following:
Do the following:
Do the following:
If you know where you'd like to add an event, the best way is to first find the location on the map and then create the event:
I want to specify the location for an event or I want to move an event somewhere else - how do I do this?
You may have an event which doesn't have a location, or you may have an event that's in the wrong place. Either way, you can change this so that your event is in the correct location.
Yes - please add as many events as possible. Even if you don't know exactly where an event took place, you can still add an event to a general location such as a country. If you really don't know where an event took place, you can still create an event without a location.
The arrows next to the events can be one of three colours:
When you upload your GEDCOM file, we use a list of place names to cross reference any locations that are mentioned. Where there is a match we place the map pin on the associated location and designate the event with either a green or amber arrow (see What do the different coloured arrows represent in the Events list?).
Unfortunately, cross-referencing locations is not an exact science and sometimes the location data in the GEDCOM file can be unspecific or confusing. This can lead to our system placing an event at the wrong location. So, please always check that your events marked with amber arrows are in the correct location after importing.
A Life Map is a view of a number of related people or events connected together by lines. Life Maps are viewed independently of the normal "filtered" view and can be one of three different types:
Life - This view shows all the events associated with a specific person connected together in chronological order - effectively showing the life of that person:
Ancestors - This view shows the locations of all the ancestors of a specific person, joined to that person:
Descendants - This view shows the locations of all the descendants of a specific person, joined to that person:
You first have to be registered and logged in. There are then 2 ways of viewing a Life Map for one of your ancestors:
You are not restricted to only viewing Life Maps of people you have added to Ancestral Atlas - you can just as easily view the Life Map of other people added by other users.
Once you are logged in, do the following:
Note: Only events that have been made public by another user can be viewed by you on a Life Map.
Once you're viewing a Life Map, you can easily turn it off again by selecting the 'Filters Mode' option in the green bar immediately above the map. This will remove the map pins and lines associated with any Life Map currently being shown and re-display the information you were previously viewing - this includes any Filters that you had set.
When you are logged in, you are able to view our historical maps overlaid on top of the map that you would usually see. Simply select or hover over the "Historical" button in the top right hand corner of the map area and a list of available maps will be shown. Then click the map you wish to see and the required map should then be displayed.
If you are not actually viewing an area where the selected map is available, a message will be displayed - in this case, pan the map view so that part of the selected country is in view, then try again.
To turn off the historical map simply click on either the "Map", "Satellite" or "Hybrid" buttons.
For those involved with Irish genealogy our Irish Townland maps are the most important map collection ever published. Surveyed between 1829 and 1843, the maps are packed with detail and are of superb quality and craftsmanship.
The maps were originally produced as an instrument of taxation - the British government of the time wanted to know who owned or lived on what land and therefore how much tax they should pay. In order to do this, every Townland had to be measured and recorded, and its area calculated. The British Army Corps of Engineers was assigned the task of surveying the land. Skilled and experienced in the creation of maps used by the British Army, these men were members of an ordnance (military weapons) unit of the Engineers - hence the name "Ordnance Survey Maps".
The owners and occupiers of all the land in the Townlands were then recorded, together with their professions, and collated into an accompanying register called the "General Valuation of Rateable Property in Ireland" - also commonly referred to nowadays as "The Griffith's Valuation", since the whole exercise of collation was overseen by a man called Sir Richard Griffith.
The maps show the boundaries of every Townland, Civil Parish, Barony and County throughout Ireland, together with the areas of each Townland indicated on the maps in Acres, Rods and Perches - a rod is a quarter of an acre; a perch is a fortieth of a rod.
Each map sheet was originally hand-engraved and then printed. The Townland, Parish, Barony and County boundaries were then meticulously marked on the maps by hand with water-colour paint. Other, pertinent details were also highlighted this way, such as rivers, canals, coastlines and on some of the maps, administrative areas.
The Six-Inch Townland maps were published at a scale of 1:10,560. This means that each inch on the map represents 10,560 inches on the ground - which is 880 feet, or 1/6th of a mile. Put another way, six inches on the map is equivalent to 1 mile on the ground - hence the name "Six-Inch Map". This "scale" allows a great deal of information to be recorded, including most man-made and natural features.
We've now created a seamless layer covering the whole of Northern and Southern Ireland so you can view exactly where your ancestors lived.
Over the last two centuries, the states and counties of the USA have changed quite dramatically. Our USA Boundary maps show these changes in ten-year intervals from 1790 up to 2000. You can simply choose the decade you're interested in and see what state or county any specific place in the US was in at that time. Here are some examples:
Pennsylvania in 1940 showing counties
The data has been supplied to us by the National Historical Geographic Information System (NHGIS).
You can view the boundaries on top of the standard Google Maps on our site if you are logged in. All you then need to do is simply find the location in the US you're interested in and then select the required decade from the list shown when the Historical button (in the top right hand corner of the map) is clicked. The states are then shown as coloured overlays.
Once you are viewing the boundaries, you can repeatedly zoom in towards the map to eventually see the county boundaries which are shown as red outlines.
Also, whilst the historical boundaries are being displayed, you can click on any location within the US with your mouse to see what states and counties that location was in during which periods. All the information regarding these changes will be listed in a pop-up bubble:
Once logged in, you are able to send messages to other users who have added their data to the map via the Message Centre. This is accessible via the 'Inbox' link (in the top right hand corner of the site) or via a 'Contact' button in the event properties of a public event added by another user.
To create a new message, select the 'New Message' button - this will display a blank message form. However, if you had selected a 'Contact' button from an Event Properties form, the Message Centre is displayed with a pre-prepared message template already visible. This will have the user name of the user who added the event's information in the 'To' field and a generic subject in the 'Subject' field that mentions the name of the person the event is associated with.
To send a message, complete the new message form and then select the 'Send' button.
First, please ensure that you're using a supported browser - see Browser Requirements for more information.
If the web site is still operating slowly then we would recommend that you check the speed of your internet connection - a 'broadband' connection is really essential with any Google Maps application such as ours.
If your connection speed is ok, the speed of our web site will still be affected by the configuration of your PC. Any PC older than 5 years old will probably struggle with our site but you can probably still improve things if you increase the amount of memory in your PC - we recommend at least 1GB.
The toolbar at the top of the map works in two modes; Life Maps mode and filters mode.
Life Maps Mode
No! Simply go to the map ("View Map" on the top menu) to view the data that other people have added. If you want to add data, then you will need to register.
In the events and people lists on the left hand side, we show an icon against each event/person that has enough data available to create a Life Map.
The Life Map buttons on the event and person properties form (right-hand side), will also be disabled if there is not enough data for a Life Map.
In addition, when you use the toolbar to switch into Life Maps mode, then use the person name drop-down to find a person, the icon is also present in this list against people that have enough data for one of the three Life Map types.