Every genealogist and family historian eventually runs into a brick wall. We come up against an ancestor who was seemingly dropped from an alien spacecraft right into the middle of the family. One of the techniques that can be used to find out more about a mysterious ancestor is to examine his or her environment. Where did they live? Who lived nearby? Did they own land? Were there others of your ancestor's nationality living in the area? Where might they have migrated from?
Many questions concerning an ancestor with an unknown background can be helped along using information about place. Everyone lives somewhere. Your ancestor was born in a particular place because his or her parents lived there. Were they just passing through, or had they settled there for generations?
One of my objectives is to help genealogists reconstruct the places their ancestors lived. This can be done in many ways, but my focus is on the physical space. Mapping an area of historic interest can help genealogists not only to determine who lived near their ancestors, but also to understand the kind of life their ancestor lived.