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Why did we create Ancestral Atlas?

Part of our company group deals with historical maps of Ireland. At various conferences we had been asked by different customers for historical maps of the same location in Ireland. Upon informing them that another customer had asked for a map of the exact same location they became very animated, asking who the person was, when they had bought the map, what they looked like and could we point them out. It was clear that the idea of meeting with another family historian who was looking at the same location was very important.

This led us to thinking, what if we could help link up all family historians looking for ancestors in a particular location? Not only would we help the research process but as mapping specialists we understood how, by using maps as an integral part of the research process, we could help build an understanding of the environment within which peoples' ancestors had lived. We had already noticed the increased use of "static" mapping to illustrate the locations of individual family ancestors within certain websites and in cetain software packages. What if we could create a "dynamic" map so that this information could be shared globally in real time amongst family historians? What if we could get people collaborating through a secure messaging system? What if people could add not only family history data but also contextual data like maps of battle grounds, the history of a particular wool mill, a coal mine or a pottery factory? This would add a "wiki" element to a map based social network specifically designed for family historians. Ancestral Atlas was born.

An added benefit of using location is that it dramatically refines the search. Imagine searching for Smiths born between 1890 and 1900 in England. Then imagine searching for Smiths born between 1890 and 1900 in the small village of Chalfont St Peter in England. Even though boundaries may be altered and place names changed, the actual location of where something happened doesn't change. So over time, as family historians add their data to the map, the search benefits of Ancestral Atlas will grow.

We want our customers to feel part of a worldwide group collaborating in the successful research of their ancestors. So please join us on our journey of discovery and become part of Ancestral Atlas, the social networking site for dead people!

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