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Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

Getting Started

Map Pins

Controlling What You See

Managing Your Data

GEDCOM Upload

Life Maps

Historical Maps

USA Boundaries

Miscellaneous

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How does Ancestral Atlas help me with my family history?

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:

  • Places: This tab allows you to first find the geographical location that you are interested in, for example a city, town, or village. There are two result sets shown for each location search:
    • AA Matches - These are locations found in our databases that may already have events registered against them.
    • Other Matches - These are locations found from third-party lists of place names.
  • Search: This tab allows you to search for specific events within a configurable distance about a point on the map. Used in conjunction with the Filters bar (see How do I use the Filters?), you can narrow your search down to only the events that may be relevant to you.
  • Events: This tab shows and allows you to record what happened at a place to make it of interest to you, for example your parent's marriage, your grandparent's residence, etc. When you add an event, you should try and also identify where that event took place on the map and add a pin to that location. If a pin already exists for the location, please try and re-use it.
  • People: This tab is used to show and record your family members. You can use this to record their name, gender and occupation. Their relationships with other people - either parent, child, sibling or partner can also be recorded as can the events associated with them, You can also indicate if the person is now deceased (this is useful if you don't have or don't want to add a specific death event for this person).

Specific information associated with individual events and people will appear when needed on the right hand side of the map.

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Why do I need to register to add my data?

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.

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Who can see my data?

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.

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What's the "120 Year Rule"?

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.

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How do I register?

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:
  1. Choose a user name and enter it in the box provided. User names must be at least 6 characters in length and can only contain letters or numbers. Some user names will already by taken so please check to see if your preferred user name is available by clicking on the 'Check Availability' link before continuing.
  2. Enter your name in the next two fields - this information helps us to make the site a little friendlier but it is optional.
  3. Enter your email address next and re-enter it in the 'Confirm Email' box. Please make sure that your email address is valid and that you can access any emails sent to that email account - we will use this email address to send you an email confirming your registration.
  4. Now choose a password and re-enter it in the 'Confirm Password' box. Your password must be at least 6 characters in length and contain only letters or numbers - it should also contain at least one number.
  5. Now please select which country you reside in - this helps us to make the site more customised to where you're from.
  6. Please now specify how you heard about us - this just helps us to better understand where our marketing efforts are making the biggest impact. Choose 'Other' if there is no other suitable option.
  7. Mailing List - occasionally, we'd like to email you information about new services and features we've just added. If you don't want us to do this, please un-tick the box.
  8. Next, if you've seen us at a show and purchased a subscription voucher, or you've been given a voucher by a friend or relation, please enter it's unique code in the boxes provided.
  9. The Anti-Spam code is used to try and prove that the form is being filled out by a person rather than by an automated computer program. Simply enter the code that you see in the picture into the box provided. If you can't properly make out what the code says, click on the 'reload image' link to have a new picture shown.
  10. Please ensure that you read our Terms and Conditions and confirm that you agree to them by ticking the box at the bottom of the form.
  11. Finally, click on the 'Create Your Account' button.

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.

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How do I log in?

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.

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I cannot remember my password - how do I set a new one?

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.

  1. First enter your user name in the '[user name]' field.
  2. Click on the 'Forgot Password?' link, and a message will be displayed asking whether you would like a temporary password emailed to you.
  3. Select 'Yes', and an email will be despatched to the email address associated with the user name entered advising you of your temporary password.
  4. When you receive the email you can then log in with your temporary password, you will then be prompted to enter a new password.
  5. You should then confirm this new password by re-entering it.
  6. Click on 'Change' to make it permanent.
  7. You will then be asked to log in again using your new password.

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How do I subscribe?

You can subscribe only after you have registered and logged in (to register, please see How do I register?).

Once logged in, you can subscribe by either clicking on the 'Subscription' link that appears next to the Logout button in the top right hand corner of the web site, or by selecting the 'My Account' button on the green menu bar and by clicking on 'Subscription'.

Either will take you to a new page showing the Account Subscription form. There are two methods of payment currently available, selectable from the drop-down box on the form:
  1. Use a Voucher
    When this option is selected, four voucher number boxes will appear. Specify the voucher number you have, confirm that you have read the terms and conditions and then click on the 'Subscribe Now' button.
    Assuming that the voucher number you have entered is valid, you will be notified that your account has been upgraded.
  2. Pay by Credit Card
    When this option is selected, the cost of a subscription will be displayed. To continue, confirm that you have read the terms and conditions and then click on the 'Subscribe Now' button.
    You will then be securely redirected to our payment partner, WorldPay who will request your credit card details on our behalf.
    Once payment has been confirmed, you will be redirected back to our site where your account will have been upgraded.

In either case, once your order has been confirmed, you will then be re-shown the Account Subscription page which will indicate your order showing when your subscription started. You will also receive an email confirming your order.

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What do the different map pin colours/shapes mean?

The map pins are coloured as follows:

Currently selected locationYellow pins represent the currently selected location.

Location with personal eventsGreen pins represent a single location that has one or more of your personal events attached to it.

Location with other user eventsBlue pins represent a single location with other user's public events attached to it.

Location with no eventsRed 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: Cluster of locations with personal events 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.

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What are Public events?

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 subscribed user, 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.

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I can see my events but the pins on the map are blue - not green - why?

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.

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Why are pins clustered?

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.

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How do I use filters?

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.

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How do I clear all the filters?

To clear all your filters and to ensure that you can see all the data available:
  1. Ensure that the 'Given Name(s)', 'Family Name', 'Start Year' and 'End Year' boxes are completely blank (ensure that there aren't any spaces in them either).
  2. Select the 'Settings' button in the Filters bar to display the Filter Settings dialog box. Select both 'Check All' links and ensure that the 'Location name' field is also empty.
  3. Click on the 'Apply' button.

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How do I add a new person?

Do the following:
  1. Select the 'People' tab.
  2. Select the 'Add New Person' button - this will open the 'Person Details' form.
  3. Complete the 'Person Details' form and select the 'Save' button.

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How do I delete or edit an existing person?

Do the following:
  1. Select the 'People' tab.
  2. Select the 'List Your People' button.
  3. Locate the person you wish to edit. You may have to page through the list to show the person you require; alternatively you can apply a filter to only show a subset of people (see How do I use the Filters? for more information on this).
  4. Select the green arrow next to the person you wish to edit - this will to open the 'Person Details' form.
  5. To delete the person, select the 'Delete' button - a message asking you to confirm that you're happy for all relationships associated with the person to be deleted as well will be displayed - accepting this will delete the person.
  6. To edit the person, select the 'Edit' button.
  7. You can now modify the details in the 'Person Details' form:
    1. Select the 'Add Relationship' button to add a new relationship this person has with another person - please remember to select the 'Save Relationship' button to save the relationship.
    2. Select the 'Edit' or 'Del' buttons in the Relations section to edit or delete any existing relationships respectively.
    3. Select 'Add Event' to add a new event this person was associated with - this will display a blank Event Properties form - please note that any unsaved changes made in the Person Details form will be lost.
    4. Select 'View' in the Events section to view an existing event associated with the person - this will display the Event Properties form - please note that any unsaved changes made in the Person Details page will be lost.
  8. At any time, you can select the 'Cancel' button. This will discard any unsaved changes made in the Person Details form.
  9. To save any changes made in the Person Details form, simply select the 'Save' button.

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How do I view the location of an event associated with a person in my people list?

Do the following:
  1. Select the 'People' tab.
  2. Select the 'List Your People' button.
  3. Locate the person you wish to edit. You may have to page through the list to show the person you require; alternatively you can apply a filter to only show a subset of people (see How do I use the Filters? for more information on this).
  4. Select the green arrow next to the person you wish to view - this will to open the 'Person Details' form.
  5. Click 'View' next to the event you wish to see - the Event Properties form will be shown for this event.
  6. In the Event Properties form, select the 'Goto Lat/Lng' button.

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How do I add an event at a specific location?

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:

  1. First find the location using the 'Places' tab - by selecting a match from the resulting list of places you will be shown the map of the selected area.
  2. Select the 'Events' tab.
  3. Select the 'Add New Event' button.
  4. If you wish to create a new location:
    1. Place the mouse cursor on the location of the event on the map and click - the latitude and longitude of the selected location will appear in the Event Properties form.
    2. Fill out the name of the location and specify the location's type. Try to add as much detail as possible for the Location Name, for example, if the location is a street, specify the street's name but also add the name of the town or city the street is in; if the location is the name of a factory, specify the factory's name and try to include the street name and town too.
  5. If you wish to use the location of an existing map pin, simply click on the pin - the details associated with that pin will be used for this event - so you won't need to add any further information.
  6. If you find that you've clicked on the wrong location, you can simply re-click on the map to move the location.
  7. Now specify the event's type and the date of when this event occurred. You can specify a full date, just the month and year, just a year, or no date at all. Note: Some events allow you to specify a start date and an end date when appropriate.
  8. Now specify the name or names of the person or persons associated with this event - if you are creating a marriage event, you need to specify two people. You can create a new person at this point using the 'Given Name(s)', 'Family Name', 'Gender' and 'Deceased' fields, or you can specify the name of a person that you've already added just by typing their name in the Name field - as soon as you've typed a few characters of the person's name, a list of matching names will be automatically displayed for you to select from.
  9. Now decide if this event should be Public or Private - this is subject to our "120 Year Rule" (see What's the "120 Year Rule"?) - if the system cannot ascertain that the event falls within this rule it will ensure that the event is kept private when you save it.
  10. Finally, select the 'Save' button to create the event.

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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.

  1. First, select the 'Events' tab.
  2. Select the 'List Your Events' button.
  3. Identify the event you wish to edit. You may have to page through the list to show the event you require; alternatively you can apply a filter to only show a subset of events (see How do I use the Filters? for more information on this).
  4. Select the arrow next to the event that needs a new location - the Event Properties form for that event will open on the right. If the arrow you clicked is red, the event doesn't yet have a location and the 'Location' section on the form will indicate: '*** This event is currently not attached to a location! ***'. If the arrow you clicked is amber or green, the event has a location already so the system will pan and zoom the map to where that location is - the corresponding pin will be highlighted in yellow and a bubble will appear with details of the location in question.
  5. Select the 'Edit' button - you now have 4 options:
    1. If you wish to use an existing location for this event, click on an existing map pin - the pin will change to yellow to indicate that it is now the location for this event. You can pan and zoom the map beforehand if you wish.
    2. If you wish to use a new location for this event, just click on the map at the location you require - the yellow pin will appear where you clicked. Again, you can pan and zoom the map beforehand if you wish.
    3. If the event already has a location, you can click on the yellow pin and, whilst holding the mouse button down, drag it to the desired location - releasing the mouse button will "drop" the pin at that point.
    4. If the new location is some distance away, the best way may be to get to the required location using the 'Places' tab to the left of the map - search for the place you require and select a match from the list of results - the system will re-centre the map on the place you select. Now simply click on the map at the new, required, location for the event - the yellow pin will appear where you clicked.

    You can re-perform any of the actions above until the event is in the location you require. Also, in all cases, when you choose a new location for the event, the 'Latitude' and 'Longitude' fields in the Event Properties form will be updated accordingly and the 'Name' and 'Type' fields will become editable so that you can specify or change the name and type of the location selected.

  6. Select the 'Save' button. Your event will be saved with the new location. Also, if the arrow next to the event in your event list was originally red or amber, it will be changed to green to indicate that it has been located correctly.

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I don't know where an event took place - should I still create an event?

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.

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What do the different coloured arrows represent in the Events List?

The arrows next to the events can be one of three colours:

  • Red arrow Red arrows indicate that the event does not have a location associated with it - it therefore doesn't have an associated map pin and you can't view it on the map. However, if you subsequently discover the correct location for the event, you can place a pin on the map at that location. When you save the event with this location, the map pin will be green and this arrow will be changed to be green also.
  • Amber arrow Amber arrows indicate that the event has been uploaded via a GEDCOM file and that it has been automatically located by us. If you are the owner of the event, it will appear on the map as a green pin, but the location of the pin has still not yet been confirmed by you - once you confirm the event's location, this arrow will be changed to be green. If you do not own the event, it will always appear on the map as a blue pin.
  • Green arrow Green arrows indicate that the event has either been placed on the map by you, or that you have confirmed its location after it was uploaded from a GEDCOM file, or that our GEDCOM import process found an exact match for the location. Green arrows mean that the event is shown on the map with a pin and it is generally in the correct location.

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How do you know where to place my GEDCOM events?

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?).

When you see an amber arrow in your list of events, you'll need to confirm the event's location by comparing the location of the pin with the location specified in the "GEDCOM Location Info" field on the Event Properties form and selecting the "Confirm Location" button. This will change the colour of the arrow in your Events List from amber to green. If you've made the event 'public', other users will be able to see that the location is correct too (as they will also see amber arrows next to your events with un-confirmed locations and green arrows next to your events with confirmed locations).

When you see a green arrow against a GEDCOM-imported event, this means that we have found an exact match, and this does not need to be confirmed.

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.

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What's a Life Map?

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:

Life Map

Ancestors - This view shows the locations of all the ancestors of a specific person, joined to that person:

Ancestors

Descendants - This view shows the locations of all the descendants of a specific person, joined to that person:

Descendants

Notes:

  • Life Maps do not show entire family trees.
  • We can only display a Life Map for a given person if you have supplied us with enough located events associated with that person - please remember, we can only plot events if they have locations.
  • When we show ancestors or descendants, we currently show their location at the earliest located event associated with them.

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How do I view a Life Map of one of my ancestors?

You first have to be logged in and subscribed. There are then 2 ways of viewing a Life Map for one of your ancestors:
  1. By selecting the 'Life Maps Mode' option in the green bar above the map. This will initially clear all map pins from the map and replace the Filter options in the green bar with the Life Maps options. Then do the following:
    1. Enter the name of one of the people you have added to Ancestral Atlas in the 'Select Person' field. As soon as you start to type their name, the system will display a drop-down list of all matching people to help you choose.
    2. Now decide what type of Life Map you would like to see by selecting on of the radio buttons - either 'Life', 'Ancestors' or 'Descendants'.
    3. Finally, click on the 'Apply' button. Assuming that you have enough located events associated with the specified person, your Life Map will be displayed.
  2. By clicking on one of the Life Maps buttons associated with a person in an Event Properties form - these buttons are shown next to each person listed.
    1. Display the Event Properties for one of your events.
    2. Click on either the 'Life', 'Ancestors' or 'Descendants' buttons associated with one of the people listed on the form. Assuming that you have enough located events associated with that person, the green bar above the map will change to show the Life Maps options, the name of the person and the type of Life Map chosen will be displayed in the relevant fields and the requested Life Map will be displayed on the map.

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How do I view a Life Map of another user's ancestor?

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 and subscribed, do the following:

  1. Display the Event Properties for a public event.
  2. Click on either the 'Life', 'Ancestors' or 'Descendants' buttons associated with one of the people listed on the form. Assuming that there are enough located events associated with that person that are also public, the requested Life Map will be displayed on the map.

Note: Only events that have been made public by another user can be viewed by you on a Life Map.

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How do I turn Life Maps off?

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.

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How do I view the historical maps?

The historical maps are a premium service only available to subscribers. Once subscribed and 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.

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What do the Irish maps show?

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.

Example showing Galway. Circa 1840
Example showing Galway. Circa 1840

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Where do the maps come from?

The 6-inch scale maps of Ireland have been supplied under licence by Past Homes Ltd.

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How do I get a print showing a historical map?

If you wish to purchase much higher quality versions of any of these maps as a gift or momento, we recommend that you visit the following web sites:
  • For historical maps covering Ireland, we have arranged for Ancestral Atlas subscribers to have a one year’s free subscription to use the Irish Townland maps browser on the Past Homes web site (at www.pasthomes.com). This allows you to browse the same maps as available on our site, but also to purchase site-centred maps of what you view, either as a downloadable PDF, or as a high quality print.
    To obtain your one year's free subscription, first ensure that you have subscribed and logged in to Ancestral Atlas, then choose the 'Irish Maps' option from the 'My Account' menu and follow the instructions.

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What do the USA Boundaries show?

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:

USA 1790

USA States 1790

USA 1840

USA States 1840

USA 1910

USA States 1910

Pennsylvania in 1940 showing counties

Pennsylvanian Counties 1940

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Where does the data come from?

The data has been supplied to us by the National Historical Geographic Information System (NHGIS).

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How do I see what states/counties my town was/is in?

You can only view the boundaries on top of the standard Google Maps on our site if you have first subscribed to our service and have 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:

Mississippi

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How do I send someone a message?

Once subscribed and logged in, you are able to send messages to other subscribers 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.

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The Ancestral Atlas web site is slow on my computer - how can I improve the speed?

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.

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Toolbar: Switching between Life Maps and filters mode.

The toolbar at the top of the map works in two modes; Life Maps mode and filters mode.

Filters Mode
Enter in the name and/or year boxes your filters. The name boxes work on either full or partial matches. For more advanced filter settings, click on the "Settings" button. Once you have set your filters, click on "Apply" to activate the filter.

Life Maps Mode
Start typing the name of the person you want to view a Life Map for in the "Select person" box, and you will be shown a list of your matching people. Choose one, and then choose one of the three Life Map types (Life, Ancestors and Descendants). Click on "Apply" to show that Life Map.

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Do I need to register?

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.

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How do I know which people have Life Maps available?

In the events and people lists on the left hand side, we show an icon Lifemaps available indicator 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.

Life Map buttons

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.

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