In a little 17th century English village, the blacksmith and the local tavern owner are good friends, perhaps sharing a pint in a local pub where they discuss political issues and family problems.
Fast-forward to the 21st century, where the descendants of those men share the trials and tribulations of genealogical research.
That's the scenario that Canadian friend and fellow professional researcher Sherry Irvine described as she urged me to explore a new Web site, Ancestral Atlas, at www.ancestralatlas.com. Here, researchers can map their ancestors' life events.
The concept might seem strange to new genealogists searching only for names, but that's where the digging begins. Geography-based research adds another dimension.
Here's how it works: An ancestor is born in 1625 in the village of Stoke Ash in Suffolk, England. Go to Ancestral Atlas and through a "Places" search, find other individuals whose ancestors were born, died, married, etc. in that village. This search is quite simple: Clicking on "Map Your Data," click on the "Places" tab, enter "Stoke Ash" in the Location box. This is how the descendants of the blacksmith and tavern owner found each other. Wouldn't it be wonderful, then, for those descendants to meet in England and share a pint at a local pub?
Creators of the Web site realize the value of this project will depend on lots of subscribers entering their research data, so they're offering a $24 lifetime membership to those who join now. Their hope is that the site will grow to worldwide proportions and centuries of dimension.
It's the brainchild of three Brits: Adrian Stahan, Rob Cullingford and Nick Francis. Their backgrounds primarily are in mapping and computer systems.
Francis is creating a demonstration page for subscribers, but for the time being, clicking on the "Help" button of the "Map Your Ancestors" page gives step-by-step directions for entering your ancestors.
One of the most interesting elements of this site is the historical map feature, which allows researchers to switch from a location on a modern map to the same location on a historical map where the modern-day town may not even exist. This feature is available to subscribers only and isn't yet available for all locations.
Life Maps, where subscribers can plot an ancestor's events, is coming soon, Francis says. Such events will be linked to show a journey through life.
I say "hoorah" for creative folks who can spark our imaginations and tickle the fancy of genealogists longing to connect with other research addicts. I've contributed my hard-earned cash to this project. If enough folks do, these Brits just might be able to create something really fascinating.
History center tours
On Saturday, Florida Genealogical Society members and guests will get a private tour of the Tampa History Center and hear a program focusing on its library. The tour assembly begins at 10:30 a.m. at the History Center, 801 Old Water St. (formerly St. Pete Times Forum Drive), Tampa. For information, contact George Morgan at (813) 205-3032.
Footnote price increase
Those who have been procrastinating about subscribing to the Footnote databases at www.footnote.com might want to pony up before a $10 price increase on Aug. 1. Current members can extend their memberships for 12 months at the current rate of $59.95. Subscribe at go.footnote.com/loyalty/.
The site contains searchable original documents, many digitized from National Archives files, including Civil War service files, Revolutionary War pension files, Eastern Cherokee application files of the U. S. Court of Claims, and some naturalization records.