I posted a question, Using web mapping and geocoding to track genealogical data, over at Geographic Information Systems SE awhile ago, so I was quite excited when I saw the proposal for this site. I realised that my question has two components, namely the GIS side and the genealogical side, which is why I thought I would post the relevant part here.
Over the last year, I have gotten involved in researching my family tree. My paternal grandfather came from a remote island in the Atlantic, along with hundreds of others of his generation, and many of them settled within the same area. As the island is very small, they shared a small number of family names (a few dozen surnames, with multiple variations of the same name).
The recently established Society has compiled a small contacts database of known descendants living in the city (and by extension, any family members who are in other parts of the country as well). At the moment, all they have is the basic contact details of the individuals, and once every few months, a meeting is held to touch base with everyone.
Coming from a GIS background, I know the Society can benefit greatly from my mapping skills to keep track of the descendants, and eventually start tracing back the family trees spatially. What I would like to know is, from a genealogical viewpoint, is simply starting with known family surnames enough? What data should I request from the Society members? I don't want to broadly request "all the data you have", as it would add too much complexity at this stage.
To clarify, I would not be keeping track of the family relationships per se, but more a case of "out of the 20 Jones who originally arrived here, there are now 300 Jones families" etc. I would be relying on the other members of the society to provide the genealogical data, while I would build up and analyse the spatial information.