Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Maps of LDS Geography

A recent post on LDS Media Talk featured Maps of LDS Geography. The original article was published in the BYU Magazine by Brittany Karford Rogers. I immediately realized that this mapping technique, either done formally or informally, could be a huge asset to genealogical research. A quote from the article indicates how maps can have a dramatic impact on our perceptions of history. Here is the quote from geography professor Brandon S. Plewe of Brigham Young University:
Take just about any topic—even something you’ve heard about thousands of times. “Look at it on a map, and it makes you think about it differently,”
In examining genealogical conundrums, I have taken this position over and over again.  It is absolutely necessary in order to resolve any difficult genealogical relationship question to closely examine the geography of the events in question. If you don't take the time to look at a maps of the areas involved in your research, you may spend years searching for the wrong information. Likewise, as the maps referenced in this article show, those geographic locations must be put into the historical context.

In my experience, nearly all of the so-called "brick wall" issues claimed by researchers can be solved by referring to maps and plotting the exact locations of events. The reason for this is that I find that the researchers are looking in the wrong place. When they identify specific event locations and then search, in depth, for records in those locations, they make dramatic progress in finding their ancestors. It is not magic, it is merely acknowledging that records are most likely associated with a specific time and geographic location. The records themselves may have been dispersed to the four quarters of the world, but the association with a specific location is a basic characteristic of the records and failing to recognize this fact lies at the base of the brick wall problems.

If you ignore history, you are bound to repeat the mistakes of the past. This applies doubly to genealogical research. But I will add, if you ignore geography, you will never be sure you have properly identified your ancestors and may be doing someone else a favor by researching an unrelated family line.

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