For the past few weeks I’ve been using a new site called uencounter.me to help me better understand where a specific branch of my family lived. Billed as “A Virtual Pin Map℠ – that’s Social!” I’m a sucker for new websites that are able to mashup several of my passions: maps and social media.
The reason I’ve decided to use uencounter.me as a family history research tool? Finding the parents of Martin Slattery and Margaret Leehive, my 3rd great-grandparents is one of my current goals in my genealogy research. I’m not ready to declare this challenge a “brick wall” since I’ve not performed a reasonably exhaustive search. However, I’m convinced that the only way I will break through this barrier is based on negative evidence and by using the F.A.N. club concept—which stands for “Friends, Associates, and Neighbors,” a term popularized by the accomplished genealogist Elizabeth Shown Mills.
An Overview of uencounter.me
The concept is rather simple: place a pin on a virtual map indicating an “encounter” which could mean where you went to school, a place you visited on vacation, or where you used to work. In conversations with Leslyn Kantner, one of the creators of uencounter.me, I got a better understanding of how the site came about. She stated that she recently started working with someone and after several conversations they realized that many of the big events in each of their lives had taken place in practically the same geographic location.
While other products such as Google Maps allow you to create personal maps with pins, which I’ve done for various lines in my family tree, uencounter.met goes one big step further: they let you know when someone else has placed a pin in proximity to your pin. This way you can find possible connections. This then makes uencounter.me another form of “cousin bait” as long as more and more genealogists start using the site.
uencounter.me and Genealogy
One thing that attracted me to uencoutner.me right off is that there was a category for genealogy type encounters. Meaning you could pin where your ancestors lived, worked and worshipped. It seems that Leslyn and her team “got” genealogy and understood the potential of the genealogy community to use a product like uencounter.me. I wish more and more sites would understand this and anticipate the needs of and work with genealogists.
A Slattery Encounter on uencounter.me
Here is how I set up a pin about one of my Slattery ancestors, Martin F. Slattery who married Anna Leahy at St. Ann’s Church in Kingston, New York on April 7, 1912. I gathered this information from a brief newspaper article in the Kingston Daily Freeman newspaper.
- Once you’ve set up an account at uencounter.me (free), click Build Your Map and select Put a Pin on the Map. You can choose to Drop a Pin which means manually placing the pin, Start with an Address or Start with a Photo. Tip: research your historical addresses on Google Maps to make sure you have the right address. Sometimes if the Start with an Address feature on uencounter.me can’t locate the address, I’ll use the Drop a Pin feature instead.
- Next, I selected Start with an Address and entered the information.
- Once I’ve checked the address and clicked Create Pin, I described the Type of Encounter. I select Genealogy, enter the name of the location, the date of the marriage and complete the rest of the screen.
- I’m also given the option of adding additional information about the encounter or event.
- Once the pin is in place, it appears on the map. I can now click Add Photos and upload an image.
- Upload a photo and also add a caption. I chose to add my source citation as the caption on the newspaper article.
- The last step is to use the Create Message feature to add information and then socialize the content.
Why Visualizing Cluster Genealogy Research Works
While it might seem to be a very involved process creating an encounter at uencounter.me, it gets easier the more pins that you create. For me, with a variety of pins, I am able to see where my ancestors lived and develop theories as to how they interacted with each other and others in the community.
When I see a pin that is far off to the side or above or below where most of the other pins are, I am curious as to why that person was there and want to know more about that event. This is really what cluster genealogy is all about: collecting what might seem like unconnected and random data points and then placing them in context so that you can develop theories to be proven through further research.
There are many more features available at uencounter.me and I hope to cover them more in the future. Check out the site and see if it can help you in your genealogy research.
Disclosure: I was contacted by uencounter.me via email to learn more about their new site. I received a complimentary Partner level membership to explore the site and its offerings. Please see Disclosure Statements for more information on my material connection with genealogy-related vendors.
©2012, copyright Thomas MacEntee