(Information on Finding Your Ancestors Records with Google Earth from Family Tree University editor Tyler Moss and a Webinar)
Note from the Dean
My great grandmother grew up in the Woodlawn neighborhood of Chicago. Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to to visit her childhood home in person. But I have visited it virtually, thanks to Google Earth.
That’s the awesome and terrifying truth about technology. We can literally map our ancestor’s lives just about anywhere on the globe. With Google Earth, you can plot out the various homes of your forebears, take a look at your ancestral village, or zoom in to Street View and virtually meander down the road where your ancestors once walked (details on how to do this below).
In our upcoming course Google Earth for Genealogy, you’ll learn to do all of that and more. The course will even culminate with a project in which you’ll make a “family history tour.” Expert instructor Lisa Louise Cooke knows Google Earth like the back of her hand, so don’t miss out on this opportunity. Learn some more benefits of Google Earth below, and sign up today!.
Find Your Ancestors Records with Google Earth
Course Details: Google Earth for Genealogists
Date: 7/27 – 8/21
Length: 4 weeks
Instructor: Lisa Louise Cooke
Geography and genealogy go hand in hand. It’s impossible to locate records or follow family lines without understanding land formations, boundaries, jurisdictions and distances. In your ancestor searches, you’ll find that geography influenced key decisions, such as these:
• where records were created and stored
• migration paths
• locations selected for settlement
• division of farms and property in probate
And because land doesn’t move, it’s one of the few elements of our ancestors’ lives that we can always count on. Consider an old photograph. The depicted buildings may have changed, but the surrounding landmarks, such as hills, valleys and rock formations, should still exist today and can aid in identification.
Although there are geographically oriented computer applications geared toward genealogists, one of the most powerful tools can be found outside the genealogy community.
(Note from Vicki – you can go also use Mapquest.com to go to Street level by clicking on the “menu” bars at top left corner:
Then select the Google “Earth” option:
Then click on the little yellow guy on the lower right corner, dragging him – flying,
to drop him at the point you are searching for on the map:
You get the Street level view turning in place by clicking on the compass rotation:
Fun to see down the road to your Grandpa’s future wife’s family neighborhood farm, or how the neighbor’s house stands in relation to your ancestor’s house, etc. You can also see how the current owners keep up the old homestead now. Have fun with your new genealogical toy, …um tool.)
Google Earth is a powerful mapping and viewing program available for free download at http://earth.google.com. Here is an overview of a few of its coolest features:
Locating Ancestral Homes and Locations
For most researchers, it just isn’t financially feasible to travel to all of the locations where one’s ancestors lived. The good news is that Google Earth can provide you with a virtual experience that is as close to being there as your computer can take you.
Get a Closer Look
While it is certainly interesting to locate an ancestor’s home on the globe, you can’t see much detail from the virtual sky looking down over the area. To get an up-close-and-personal look at a location, you can employ Google Earth’s Street View function.
Street View offers you a panoramic view from various positions on the street. Launched in May 2007, Street View was available for only a few major US cities. Today, Google offers images of nearly every street in America, and its coverage is spreading quickly around the world.
Just how does Google do it? A fleet of cars equipped with nine directional cameras drive up and down each street and snap photographs from all directions every few seconds. When faced with narrow streets, such as those in Rome, similarly equipped Google Trikes (tricycles) make the journey.
Get Your Bearings
Getting your directional bearings can be difficult once you’re in Street View. To locate an address, you can hover your mouse over the camera icons that appear along the street. If unsure which particular house is your ancestor’s, look for addresses on buildings as well as on the curb. To get a closer look at a particular area, double-click on the spot on the image, and Google Earth will slowly zoom in.
Google Earth for Genealogists
WHAT YOU’LL LEARN
• How to save, share and organize information in Google Earth
• How to overlay historical maps
• How to plot your ancestor’s homestead
• How to create a virtual “family history tour” to share with others