Thursday, March 13, 2014

RootsMapper: Another FamilySearch Family Tree Extension

Dennis Brimhall mentioned a couple of FamilySearch Family Tree extensions, FamilyMap and Puzilla, in his RootsTech keynote address. (See “RootsTech Thursday’s Opening Session.”)

The ecosystem growing up around FamilySearch Family Tree is an increasingly compelling reason to add your data. Here’s another interesting program and an interesting way to visualize your data. is a free website that shows your “pedigree” in geographical format. For the map below I mapped myself, although I could have specified any Family Tree PID (person identifier).  I specified four generations (which doesn’t include the root person.) RootsMapper then animated backwards the migration of my ancestors.

A circle with a generation number indicates the birthplace of each ancestor. Blue indicates male, and pink, female. The root person is indicated with numeral “0” (which is currently highlighted in yellow in the map below). Parents are indicated with the numeral “1,” grandparents with “2,” and so on. Just like a pedigree chart, lines link each person to their parents (although they can be turned off).

Hover over a circle and RootsMapper pops up a box with the person’s name, birth year, and death year. Click on a circle and it pops up a person card with name, full birth and death information, a photograph (if available), the PID, and options to remove that circle or extend the pedigree beyond that point.

RootsMapper shows a geographic map of your pedigree

The first time I ran this four generation map several points jumped out at me.

I have southern roots! Lots of them! I have an Irish line! And I have a Scandinavian line! Of course I already knew all that, but I’ve been suppressing it to avoid collisions with burned counties, Irish research, and patronymic names. (You’d think someone comfortable with pseudonymic names would be fine with patronymic names, but apparently not.)

The program can map up to eight generations of all ancestral lines, but that takes an extremely long time. A better approach is to map several generations and then extend particular lines. That can be done up to 20 generations.

The program has several options. One displays the number of births per country. Another displays a small pedigree of the mapped generations. Another isolates the display to only one line.

To run the program, you’ll need a (free) FamilySearch account. And of course, you’ll only see what information you or a relative have added to Family Tree. If there are errors in your tree you’ll have to fix them in Family Tree before the RootsMapper map is accurate. While free, donations are accepted.


  1. Hi,

    RootsMapper really is a great tool!

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  2. Your GeoMapper is fairly interesting. Mine is Boring with that capital 'B.' I have all but one American ancestral birth in the same Hoosier county (Knox) - and just two name-places in that county, a town and a rural township. The other birth is in Cleveland. Then all my people jump the pond and 'great-arc' it back to Belgium, France, Germany, Poland and Switzerland. The birth in Cleveland (first in America on a Swiss/French line) barely puts a kink in the 'great-arc' back to the two home countries. Like I said - boring.

    What this does not show is movement of peoples outside of just the births within a pedigree line. It would be most interesting to be able to map other pertinent facts. Most are not as easy to extract from a FamilySearch tree; but could be imput manually. Marriages and other births in an ancestral family would be easier facts to extract from a tree/family group; and that would show familial migrations. Such other births would show movements through the US for at least two of my families before settling in Knox County, Indiana. Emigration would be one such fact to consider showing ports of embarkation and arrival when known. And Naturalizations/Declarations of Intent may show further movements of individuals or families.

    Perhaps they could even add deaths into the mix. I have a Belgian family that emigrated almost en masse to Kewaunee County, Wisconsin. That is all but my 2x great grandmother who met up with her future husband and came to Knox County, Indiana. But that Wisconsin connection is important to a full understanding of that ancestral line and locating their Belgian ancestral home. The death locations of those 3x great grandparents would point to that connnection.

    Perhaps someone will write an extension to this simple form which would allow for further imputs.


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