Many beginning researchers believe that the most important documents they can find on their family are birth certificates, marriage licenses, and burial records. While all of these are vital, don't overlook another crucial family history document—the hard-to-fold but indispensable map.
When doing family history research, it's important to put your ancestors not only in their place in time, but also in their place in geography. Our ancestors, just like us, were going actual places. If you have never been to those places yourself, looking at a map gives you a better understanding of how your ancestors lived their lives.
If family legend relates the story of Great-Grandpa going to visit Great-Grandma every Friday before they were married, one learns a lot more about their dedication to each other if the two towns are thirty miles apart.
This is the tiny island where my paternal line comes from. Can any of you aspiring cartographers identify it? I'll send a few The Generations Project Season One episodes on DVD to the first person to correctly answer.
In the meantime, start looking around and asking relatives about ancestral locations. You never know what you might learn from looking at a map. Just don't ask me how to get it folded back up correctly when you're done.