Visualize Your Family Heritage Using RootsMapper

March 19, 2015  - by 

Would you like to provide visitors to your family history center with a fun and engaging way to discover their family heritage? Try introducing them to RootsMapper. By using this FamilySearch compatible tool, people can watch the journey of multiple generations of their ancestors plotted on an interactive map. Their hearts will turn to their ancestors as they virtually accompany them along their family’s migration path.




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Imagine watching your ancestors “cross the pond” from the countries of their birth. For example, when I tried RootsMapper, I saw my birthplace in Southern California displayed as well as the birthplaces of three generations of my ancestors who were born in the United States and their migration paths that led to me. Then, when I selected the fourth generation, I saw my ancestors’ birth locations in Europe, including England, Ireland, and Switzerland, and their migration paths across the Atlantic to the United States.

To try RootsMapper, click this link, or copy it into your browser. (Google Chrome is the recommended browser for this program.)

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Follow these steps:

  1. Click Visit RootsMapper.
  2. Click Login to begin mapping.
  3. Enter your LDS or FamilySearch account username and password.

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After logging in, you will see a basic map that displays family data already entered into Family Tree about you and your ancestors. You see the migration of paths of multiple generations of your ancestors displayed on the map. You can then explore various display options and can view Family Tree information about ancestors by clicking individual pins on the map or by clicking through a simple pedigree chart.

You can go back farther on your Family Tree in RootsMapper by changing the ID number of the person being displayed.

  1. Select an ancestor on your tree.
  2. Copy his or her ID number.
  3. Paste or type the number into the ID field in the upper left corner of RootsMapper.
  4. Click Start.
  5. Select the number of generations you want to see. Now watch as additional people and generations from your tree appear on the map.

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You could use RootsMapper in a number of ways to provide fun, engaging discovery experiences, particularly for youth. For example, you could design a scavenger hunt in which the youth answer a series questions related to information they will find in RootsMapper. Here are some ideas:

  • How many countries did your ancestors immigrate from?
  • Did any family members stay in one area for more than one generation? If so, for how many generations did they stay?
  • Of the places your ancestors migrated from, what places have you visited? Where would you like to visit?
  • Do you have any family traditions that you think came from an area where your ancestor lived?

During the discovery activity, you could use a flat map or a globe to mark all the countries that ancestors migrated from. See how many different locations are marked by the end of the experience.

There is demonstration video on YouTube on how to use RootsMapper.  Google  “Official Rootsmapper Demo” to get the link. Remember that YouTube videos are blocked on most meetinghouse Internet networks. In the demo the developer reminds us the app was developed on Google Chrome and it works most effectively on Chrome.

Try RootsMapper yourself for a personal discovery experience, and then introduce it to visitors. It can be a fun and useful tool for turning hearts and connecting visitors with their family heritage.


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  1. ROOTS MAPPER: Does NOT work! I signed in, twice (to my account and to the Roots Mapper. It does not access my FamilyTree in FamilySearch at all. It keeps coming up with error messages. You need to work in repairing the synchronization of the two programs more.

    1. Beverly, I’m sorry that you’re having complications with Roots Mapper. Try calling the family search research support center at 18664061830 to see if they can help you at all with synchronizing from other sites. Good luck!

  2. The Red color for targeted country’s distracts from the overall visual aspect. The older version with uniform color is much nicer

  3. when I choose to map 12 generations I get “Retrieving FamilySearch ancestry data…” and a spinning wheel. been over an hour waiting. using Chrome. What can I do?

    1. Hi Jonathan! Thank you for your question. 12 generations is thousands of people. It will take a long time to pull all that information from FamilySearch into RootsMapper. You can also check out the “Where Am I From?” activity that is built within FamilySearch. Perhaps you will find some similar features.

      1. Thank you fir explaining that. I’m concerned that the connection between roots mapper and family search is timing out because when I click refresh I need to login again. What do you think?

  4. Doesn’t work. I am using it the correct way and it isn’t showing me any of the new generations of my family.

    1. Hi Kelsey! Thank you for your feedback. This post is 6 years old and the RootsMapper technology hasn’t been updated by RootsMapper. Check out the FamilySearch Activity: Where Am I From? to explore similar features and utilizing the current FamilySearch Family Tree database.