Tag Archives: Lisa Louise Cooke

Why Family Search ended Their Microfilm Lending Program

Vicki’s Note – More in-depth information from Lisa Louise Cooke’s “Genealogy Gems” BLOG

on why the Family Search Family Centers stopped sending rented microfilm.  August 31, 2017, this service came to an end. Find out what they have planned next.

Lisa Louise Cooke has included a recording of the interview and a transcript.

Click here to read the entire posting:

Special Episode: The End of FamilySearch Microfilm Lending Program

Change is something we can always count on, but that doesn’t make it any easier, does it? Understanding why the change is happening, how it affects you personally, and what you can do to adapt, does. So, when FamilySearch announced the end of their long-standing microfilm lending program, I immediately sought out the key expert who can answer these questions for you. 

The End of microfilm lending at FamilySearch


FamilySearch’s Goal for Microfilm and the Family History Library

It seems like only yesterday I was interviewing Don R. Anderson, Director of the Family History Library about the future of the library and FamilySearch. Back then, in 2009, he made the startling statement that their goal was to digitize all of the microfilms in FamilySearch’s granite vault. (Click here to listen to that interview in my Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcast episode 16.) Fast forward to today, and we see that in less than ten years that end goal is within sight. We are also seeing the ending of a service nearly every genealogist has tapped into at some point: the microfilm lending program. Family historians have been able to place orders for microfilm to be shipped to their local Family History Center where they could then scroll through the images in search of ancestors.

On August 31, 2017, this service comes to an end.


Organizing Family Photographs on Your Computer

Vicki’s Note – article from Family Tree Magazine.  This is how I organize my paper files, and is standard for that.  On my computer, I  organize by surname first.   Good point to  add the first name of the father, and sub-folders for each family member.:
Organizing Your Hard Drive: Photo Filing Tips
Struggling with a system to organize your digital photos? Think like a census taker and try this method of filing pictures by head of household.

How to Set Up Photo Folders on Your Hard Drive

1. Navigate to the Photo folder inside the appropriate surname folder. Click to select it.

2. Inside the Photo folder, create a subfolder for each head of household you have pictures of—for example, John Johnson Family or Samuel Johnson Family.

3. Inside each of these family folders, create a folder for each family member: John, Mary (his wife), John Jr., Susie (children) and so on.

Photo Filing Guidelines

Genealogists research our ancestors within the context of their familial relationships, so filing in this manner keeps that at the forefront of our thinking.

  • Men: File pictures under their parents prior to marriage, and under their own name after marriage. For example, John Jr.’s photos prior to his marriage will be in the John Jr. folder inside the John Johnson folder. Photos after John Jr.’s marriage are filed in a new John Johnson Jr. folder.
  • Women: Filed in the same way as records—Susie’s photos prior to her marriage go in the Susie folder inside the John Johnson folder, and you’ll place photos after her marriage in the Susie folder inside her new husband’s folder.
  • Group photos and multiple families: Photos of multiple family members go in the head of household’s folder—you have to navigate there to get to the other relatives’ folders, after all. But suppose you have a picture of both the John Johnson and Samuel Johnson families around the Christmas tree. What to do? Duplicate the photo and save a copy in each of the respective families’ head of household folder.

More help organizing your family photos and research from the experts at Family Tree Magazine:

Memorial Day Weekend Free Offers #2

Vicki’s note – freebies from Thomas MacEntee:


Free download of Google Earth Pro

Vicki’s note – April 6, 2017 article from Family Tree Legacy Genealogy insider e-newsletter, Diane Haddad:


Free download of Google Earth Pro

Download Google Earth Pro for Free

Geography and genealogy go hand in hand: researching places tells you about the ancestors who lived there. This makes Google Earth software incredible handy, and now you can download Google Earth Pro for free. Watch Google Earth guru Lisa Louise Cooke explain what’s so great about this program–and learn about our Google Earth for Genealogists online course starting April 10. Read More…

Famicity Kickstarter campaign is officially open

Vicki’s Note – Read more about this completely new way of sharing your family history with immediate family members, (and third cousins, etc, that you find with DNA testing!) More details about this private, family-oriented social media platform are in my January 17, 2017 Posting, &  this Press Release.


“Famicity: Record,Cherish, and Safeguard Your Family History
Even with today’s digitally connected, social media-centric world,
staying in touch with your family can actually be more difficult than ever.
Famicity changes this.
Famicity is a social network platform that allows you to share
cherished family memories–from the distant past to the present
–simply and privately, with all your relatives.
It’s a living record of your family at your fingertips,
and it’s coming to Kickstarter.
Famicity is designed for the collection of family memories.
There are no feed clogging ads, political articles,
or otherwise superfluous posts like on Facebook and other networks.
Famicity is also designed to protect, manage, and continue your
family’s legacy, no matter where you are in the world.
You can share photos, videos, and precious moments
with your entire family with privacy and a peace of mind.”


Press Release: Famicity Kickstarter campaign

is officially open

Lisa Louise Cooke_s Genealogy Gems

I am happy to let you know that the social media platform company that brings family history sharing practices to life, known as Famicity, has officially launched their Kickstarter campaign at www.famicity.com/kickstarter.
As I mentioned in my previous email to you, Kickstarter is a website that allows start-up companies to gain support for their ventures. In this case, it offers genealogists a way to become early adopters of this ground-breaking new service, and secure membership at a substantial discount.
The following link is to a press release outlining the wonderful features of this private, family-oriented social media platform. I hope you will share the news with your organization, community, and most importantly, your family: Famicity Press Release
If you have any questions, I would be happy to answer them or put you in touch with the right person at Famicity who can do so.
Lisa Louise Cooke
Wishing you and your organization all the best,
Lisa Louise Cooke
Author, Lecturer, and
Producer of The Genealogy Gems Podcast

New “Famicity” – Social Network Family Center; Kickstarter campaign on January 30, 2017; AND Answers to Questions About this New Resource.

New “Famicity” – Social Network Family Center; Kickstarter campaign on January 30, 2017

Vicki’s Note – This information from Lisa Louise Cooke was shared with me by Beloit Historical Society 1-16-2017

I am familiar with Rootstech, Family Search.org, and  Lisa Louise Cooke and her Genealogy Gems.

I have shared some of her Posts on my BLOG “Statelinegenealogyclub.wordpress.com”.

If they recommend Famicity, I trust their/her recommendation.

I have not heard of Famicity before this, but I think we all will hear more about it soon.

 I watched the 2 attached videos about the new Famicity social network legacy family center created by CEO Guillaume Languereau,

“Published on Jun 6, 2016

Famicity helps you to preserve and enhance your legacy.
Do not forget the past, the people who made you who you are, the people who made your memories, the people who made your story.
Sign up for free on www.famicity.com and discover how Famicity will change your life.”

See Lisa L Cooke’s article below about Famicity.

She is right-  putting family history on Facebook, is not a private, ad-free environment where the focus is family.

Facebook, and Ancestry.com both are very proprietary and “own” any information, or family trees put onto “their” sites. 

For Ancestry, once you don’t have a paid subscription, you lose access to editing your own Family Tree,

And any documents or historical materials you added become “theirs”; i.e. you have to have to pay to get to your own contributions.

I am posting this information about Famicity to my BLOG, so that you, my genealogy friends online, can hear about this opportunity.

Famicity sounds like the perfect vehicle for my 1st, 2nd and 3rd cousins, etc. to collaborate on family history together. 

I have not been able to find a good way to do that before.

And it’s free!


How can Famicity afford to maintain this site?

Will it be long-term reliable?

What will be their policy on “inheriting” each family’s site if it is shared by any and all family members?

(Facebook, email, etc.  have restrictions on who can access a person’s site if they pass away.)


Famicity sounds good.  Let me know what you think, or if you end up using Famicity at their Kickstarter campaign on January 30, 2017:



“Famicity” – An exciting new way for families to share and connect.






Lisa Louise Cooke

I’ve been producing the free Genealogy Gems Podcast for 10 years now, and covering the most important tech topics for genealogists. In my travels as an international genealogy lecturer, I’ve personally taught thousands of genealogists how to use technology in the best, and most effective way possible. But there has been something missing in the genealogy industry.
No tech company has hit the sweet spot of successfully bringing family history together with the history we are currently creating each and every day. Our descendants’ family history, if you will.
That’s why I was all ears when the CEO of a new company tracked me down at Rootstech 2016, and told about the “legacy center” he was creating for families. It’s called Famicity, and for the first time I think a company has got it right. And that’s why I’m reaching out to you today. I think this website is a game-changer for your society members.

As a society, I know you are on the look-out for exciting new opportunities for your members that will support them in their genealogical pursuits. I believe this is one of those opportunities.
Famicity is a social network designed to protect, manage, and continue your family’s legacy. While our family members might be on Facebook, it’s not a private, ad-free environment where the focus is family. Famicity is a clean, beautiful social network where you can upload and share:

  • your family tree GEDCOM
  • old family photos (free). Videos, audio and documents (subscription)
  • new photos (free) and videos, audio and documents (subscription) of the latest family events
  • messages and stories

You can even create subgroups within your family network so family members can participate as they wish, and sensitive information can be controlled. These groups are also great for sharing daily errands, commitments and goals. And yes, you can opt to share to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram if you wish.


Guillaume Languereau

CEO and Co-Founder Guillaume Languereau told me how 

Famicity started with his grandfather, Lucien, who had taken the time to painstakingly research Guillaume’s mother’s side of the family. Lucien shared the research by printing four copies of a book, one for each grandchild. Guillaume LOVED it, but he was concerned about the book getting lost or destroyed. And he wanted to be able to add to it, and share his thoughts and feelings both now, and in the future, but not necessarily on Facebook. This is how Famicity sprang to life.

I have the same concerns and desires about my own family history, as I imagine you and your society members do. Famicity is covering it all: social sharing, storytelling, multi-media, long-term storage and protection, and support for genealogy.

And speaking of protection and privacy – With Famicity, you retain copyright and exclusive use of your content, and that’s really important to all of us. From their website: “Famicity only stores your data, we do not claim them. Each published story, each shared album, every comment submitted remain your property. At any time, you can choose to edit or delete them at your convenience.”

That’s a powerful promise, and Famicity is committed to it. Here’s what Guillaume says: “Our family and our children are the most important people in the world, so it’s critical to stay connected with them. In a connected world where data can be used, analyzed, and sold, our families needed a secured place to just be all together. No more ads, analysis or public scrutiny, just freedom to share our family moments, memories, and history. Famicity is that place and will always care about privacy and family.”

And Famicity does something I think is vitally important: it resonates with all ages. Today’s younger generations are already used to social media platforms, but they aren’t typically excited about having grandmas and grandpas, and aunts and uncles all over their Facebook wall. We need a way for young people to be able to share with older relatives who are yearning for contact. Famicity offers that private space away from their social media friends, where they can freely share photos and comments. Famicity is also the perfect vehicle for sharing family history in a way that they can understand and appreciate. It’s like having pictures around the house, but digital, constantly reminding them of the care and importance that goes into preserving family history. Please take a moment to watch the short video below for a look at the beautiful and easy-to-use interface:

Click to watch this short, wonderful video (open in a new tab)

And Click here for the second video by Guillaume Languereau.

I’m doing what I can to help support this free basic service, and help it grow into the robust full service “legacy center” that we’ve all been craving. Based on the exciting response they received at the Innovator Showdown at Rootstech 2016, and their support from organizations such as FamilySearch, Famicity will be launching a Kickstarter campaign on January 30, 2017. Kickstarter.com is a website that allows start-up companies to gain support for their ventures, and in this case it offers genealogists a way to become early adopters of this exciting new service.

Famicity is about to make a very big splash in the genealogy world! I encourage you to sign up for a free account at www.Famicity.com and try it out with your own family. Start by adding a photo and a story. Then, please share this email, (and feel free to reprint any part of it in your newsletter) with your members so they can explore Famicity.

I will follow up with you at the start of the Kickstarter campaign with more details that you can share with your society.  And, if you have any questions, I would be happy to answer them or put you in touch with the right person at Famicity who can do so.

Wishing you and your wonderful genealogy society all the best,
Lisa Louise Cooke
Author, Lecturer, and
Producer of The Genealogy Gems Podcast



Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems




Vicki’s additional note 🙂 Below is a 1-18-2017  Email reply from Lisa L Cooke that answers some of my feedback questions mentioned in my first notes.  She talked with the CEO of Famicity to get answers for us.


Hi Vicki,

Thank you so much for providing the feedback and your support!

I talked to the CEO of Famicity today and asked your questions. He appreciated your interest and had this to share:

How can Famicity afford to maintain this site?

Guillaume: “Famicity will add paid options to the service. To have a more interactive and family friendly service, the user will be able to add videos, voice recording and more to their legacy center. This option will remain very affordable.”

Lisa: This was important to me as well. A company can only provide great service when they are in a good financial situation. I really like that the basic service will be free to all, but that you can enjoy greater features and support the venture through subscribing. And that’s what the Kickstarter campaign will be about, getting that support from the genealogy community through advance subscriptions. I’m really excited about the enhanced features!

Will it be long-term reliable?

Guillaume: “This is the goal. Famicity will take care of the updates of your digital media. It’s made for your legacy. Plus we’ll add many features to be sure that the user is free to take his/her information/documents back when he/she wants to.”

Lisa: That ability to retrieve your data and remain the owner of it was a key factor for me. Many companies have approached me in the past asking for support for services where you can upload stories, etc (although they did not have the social media ability), but I passed on them because they were not fluid in giving their users control of their own content.

What will be their policy on “inheriting” each family’s site if it is shared by any and all family members? (Facebook, email, etc.  have restrictions on who can access a person’s site if they pass away.)

Guillaume: “Famicity created specific algorithms to take care of inheritance management. The user will be able to select how he/she wants to pass on his/her information. Famicity is created to be passed on to the next generation when Facebook or emails are just instant sharing services.”

I hope you find this helpful. And please send me a link to your blog post when you publish it and I will push it out through the Genealogy Gems social media channels.












Podcast and weblinks: Cemeteries and Genealogy

Vicki’s note – podcast and web-links from Family Tree Magazine. 

October 2016 Podcast: Cemeteries and Genealogy
By Lisa Louise Cooke
Learn all about what cemetery records you can find and how they can benefit your genealogy research in this month’s podcast.

Listen to this episode

 Back to the episode list

Listen to Lisa Louise Cooke’s podcast, The Genealogy Gems Podcast in iTunes and visit her website for great research ideas, podcast episodes and videos.

Lisa’s book is available at ShopFamilyTree.com: Mobile Genealogy

News from the Blogosphere with Genealogy Insider, Diane Haddad

Diane talks about going to the cemetery and the things you can learn about your ancestors from their cemetery records. Read Diane’s blog post here: 9 Things You can Learn About Your Ancestors from the Cemetery.

Top Tips

In this segment, we talk key clues in cemetery records from the Cemetery Records Workbook in the Oct/Nov 2016 Family Tree Magazine issue by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack. Sharon talks about:

  • What we should be looking for when it comes to cemeteries and their records
  • Which sites to turn to first
  • Strategies to try if you don’t have luck finding your ancestor’s burial place.


101 Best Websites


Jennifer Davis from the Records Division at Family Search gives us the scoop on cemetery and death records at Family Search. She provides an overview of the types of death and burial records we can find in their online database and advice on how to effectively run a search to find them. Finally, she explains Family Search’s partnership with memorial websites such as Find A Grave and Billion Graves, and how to work with their content on the Family Search site.

Family Tree University Crash Course

Vanessa Wieland shares tips from Family Tree University’s 2-week self-paced course called Doing Cemetery Research. Register today!
101 Best Websites
Jennifer Davis from the Records Division at Family Search gives us the scoop on cemetery and death records at Family Search. She provides an overview of the types of death and burial records we can find in their online database and advice on how to effectively run a search to find them. Finally, she explains Family Search’s partnership with memorial websites such as Find A Grave and Billion Graves, and how to work with their content on the Family Search site.
Family Tree University Crash Course
Vanessa Wieland shares tips from Family Tree University’s 2-week self-paced course called Doing Cemetery Research. Register today!

From the Publisher’s Desk with Allison Dolan

Allison’s Cemetery Research Dos and Don’ts:

  • Do check for online databases of cemetery records. See if the cemetery has posted burial records online.
  • Don’t assume that the tombstone is all there is. The cemetery might have additional burial records it will allow you to access, and those records could contain information and clues that complement the tombstones.
  • Do find out the cemetery’s hours, rules, etc. before visiting in person. It would be a shame to show up and not be able to do what you came for.
  • Don’t apply any substances other than water to a tombstone to make it more readable. When I got started, I heard a lot people recommend using shaving cream to bring out the words, but preservationists do not recommend this. Instead take a digital photo and then use the photo editing software to adjust the contrast so you can make out the transcription. If the lighting isn’t good for the photograph, try using a mirror to reflect sunlight onto the stone.
  • Do take photos of the entire plot and any surrounding stones you think could have a connection to your family, to create a permanent record.

McHenry County IL Genealogical Society Monthly Programs


(MCIGS) McHenry County Illinois Genealogical Society monthly meetings are held at

The Pointe, 5650 Northwest Highway, Crystal Lake, IL 60014 (next to Target) at

7:00 pm on the 2nd Thursday each month.

They are free and open to the public.

NOTE: The bus trip to the Black Pointe Estate is for MCIGS members only.

McHenry County Illinois Genealogical Society
P.O. Box 184, Crystal Lake, Illinois 60039-0184
McHenry County IL Genealogical Society
Monthly Programs
A 60-Minute Crash Course: Beginning Genealogy Using Accredited Methods
Marsha Peterson-Maass                                                                                                                   August 11, 2016

This is a fun look at accredited basics and research methodology suitable for everyone. If you’re a beginner you’ll take away a sense of what you need to be doing in your research. If you’re an experienced genealogist you might be surprised to discover how much of the accredited methodology you only “sort of knew” and that knowing the accredited research precepts can actually help revitalize your current search.

Time Travel with Google Earth – This will be a “live” Webinar presentation
Lisa Louise Cooke                                                                                                                     September 8, 2016

Get ready to experience old historic maps, genealogical records, images, and videos coming together to create stunning time travel experiences in the free Google Earth program. We’ll incorporate automated changing boundaries, and uncover historic maps that are built right into Google Earth. Tell time travel stories that will truly excite your non-genealogist relatives! You’ve never seen anything like this class!                                                                  Lisa Louise Cooke is the Producer and Host of the Genealogy Gems Podcast, an online genealogy audio show at www.GenealogyGems.com.
Resurrecting a Cemetery                                                                                                               Paula Pickrel and Glenda Ziegler                                                                                            October 13, 2016

Using genealogical research methods, dowsing rods and spades, professional cemetery conservators, Paula Pickrel and Glenda Ziegler, have literally unearthed the stories and the graves of several Illinois pioneers. Join the sisters as they share their cemetery experiences and provide tips for digging up your ancestors’ graves. In the past five years, the sisters have completed the restoration and documentation of three abandoned cemeteries, repaired hundreds of headstones and co-authored a gravestone repair manual.

Black Point Estate Tour & Victorian Death and Mourning Program
Bus Trip – Sunday, October 16, 2016, Lake Geneva,WI

A unique private house & garden tour/program at Black Point Estate, Lake Geneva, WI. The house, built on Geneva Lake in 1888 for the Chicago beer Baron, Conrad Seipp, is a Queen Anne Victorian summer cottage that was enjoyed by four generations of his family. The program, “Angels Carried Them Away: Death and Mourning in the Victorian Era, (1876-1912)” will be presented by Steven Person, a local Walworth Township funeral director.

Liven Your Family History With Images
Mike Karsen                                                                                                                                   November 10, 2016

Family histories can contain phenomenal research with every event documented and sourced with precision but yet no one is interested in reading it. This is because they need to be more than just names and dates, they need to be vehicles for “Time Travel” taking us back to the days when our grandparents and great-grandparents lived and raised their families. These images to bring them to life and make the story real. This presentation illustrates how to “liven up” your family history with images of people, places, and events that will make the reader keep flipping the pages to be drawn back in time.


4 Ways to Search Your Family Tree on Google

(Note from Vicki – The Stateline Genealogy Club @ Beloit Public Library had a fun and informative webinar 1-8-16 on “Using Google Earth for Genealogists, Tracking Your Ancestor’s Paths”, by Lisa Louise Cooke.  We were inspired to download it on our own computers, and exploring using it for our own families lives.  A Handout is available next time you come to the Club.  Here is a chance for you to explore further Google options for genealogy, or to take a class online.)

1-11-2016 Article from Family Tree University

Vanessa Wieland,  Online Editor
Note from the Dean:
When I was a kid, my mother’s favorite reply to our questions was, “Look it up!” She had a set of encyclopedias she received as a wedding gift, and those were the items we used whenever we had to do history and social studies reports. By the time I hit high school, those encyclopedias were incredibly outdated (they predated the moon landing!) and falling apart but my mom refused to part with her favorite sources. It wasn’t until she moved that, with great reluctance, she finally let them go.
Then, she discovered the internet.

Google is such a popular search engine that the name has become a verb in common vernacular, another way of saying my mom’s favorite words, “Look it up!” But there’s a lot more to using Google than just typing in a search query; for genealogists, There are all kinds of handy tools for finding relatives, (living and dead) online, as well as organizing your research, verifying sources, connecting with people, and sharing your information. In fact, there’s so much information, it’s hard to know where to begin and how to make the most of it!

That’s where our 4-week online course, Google for Genealogy, comes in. With lessons on basic and advanced search tools, using Google Drive docs and spreadsheets, Google Translate, and more, you can use the tools at your fingertips to improve your genealogy and locate your ancestors. Read more below and sign up for the course today!

4 Google Genealogy Searches to Try

Course Details: Google for Genealogy
Date: 01/18 – 02/12
Length: 4 weeks
Price: $99.99
Instructor: Lisa A. Alzo


Google Tools

There are so many ways that using Google can help you find great information, from nearby restaurants, celebrity gossip and international news, even the latest developments in science! But do you know how to use Google to find your ancestry and develop your family tree? Check out these 4 ways of searching Google to aid in your genealogy research:
• Books
Google Books contains the largest online book collection and allows you to search them (yes, even inside the books themselves!) for information regarding your family history. You can start with an advanced book search on a person’s first and last name plus a phrase like “genealogy” or “family” in the Subject box.
• Newspapers
The Google News Archive Search covers newspapers back to 1738! Search by name to find obituaries or browse a paper by date to get historical context and find out what was going on in your ancestor’s life.
• Images
Want to see if you can find digital images related to your ancestors or where they lived? Why not search Google Images? You might be surprised at what you find! Bonus tip: You don’t have to restrict yourself to searching images; you can also search by image to find source information.
• Maps
This is one of the most commonly used Google tools, but Google Maps and Google Earth can show you more than driving directions. Get an up close and personal look at the street your great-grandma grew up on, even if you can’t make it there yourself with street view, and explore the historical maps and photographs on offer.
Search results can vary and only a small percentage of the internet is indexed, but more is getting added all the time! With a few techniques and tools at your fingertips, you can cut hours off your research time and save yourself quite a bit of frustration, as well as verify the accuracy of sources and other work done.

To learn more about these types of searches, plus more of what Google can offer, sign up for Google for Genealogy today!

Sign Up Now for Google for Genealogy online course

Google for Genealogy

• Google search essentials
• Advanced searching strategies
• Navigating Gmail and Google+
• How to use Google Books and the Google News Archive
• How to translate websites, documents and plain text with Google Translate
• Creating and managing Google Alerts
• Sharing documents with Google Drive



Map Your Family History with Google Earth

Family Tree University
Map Your Family History with Google Earth
Want to explore the streets that your ancestors walked to get a better sense of where they came from? Even if it isn’t possible to travel there in the near future, you can still explore the places your family members came from, without leaving the comfort of your own chair! Instead, try your hand at telling your family’s story in this 1-week workshop, Map Your Family History with Google Earth.
Google Earth is a pretty incredible tool for the pure effect it can have on your genealogy research (read more about that below), but it can also be a fantastic tool to help you paint a portrait of your ancestor’s life. Using the free online program, you’ll learn about a creative, multimedia way to tell your forebear’s story, as instructor Lisa Louise Cooke does in this example video.
It’s an impressive program, and with years of experience teaching courses and giving presentations about Google Earth, we’ve asked Lisa Louise Cooke (host of the Genealogy Gems podcast, Family Tree Magazine podcast and a author of numerous books) to help you get acquainted. Learn more below, and sign up today!
3 Ways Google Earth Helps You Map Your Ancestors’ Homes
Course Details: Map Your Family History with Google Earth Workshop
Date: 11/16 – 11/22
Length: 1 week
Price: $129.99
Instructor: Lisa Louise Cooke
Register Now
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:

  • where records were created and stored
  • migration paths
  • locations selected for settlement
  • division of farms and property in probate

And because land doesn’t usually move (barring some kind of disaster or other force), it’s one of the few elements of our ancestors’ lives that we can count on. Consider an old photograph: the depicted buildings may have changed, but many of the surrounding landmarks such as hills, valleys and rock formations, probably still exist today and can aid in identification. And if they did move? That might be part of your ancestor’s story! 

Although there are geographically-oriented computer applications geared toward genealogists, there’s no need to get fancy before you’ve learned one of the most powerful tools is right at your fingertips. Google Earth is a powerful mapping and viewing program available at http://earth.google.com. Here are a few of its cool features to whet your appetite:

1. Locate Ancestral Homes and Locations: For most researchers, it just isn’t feasible to travel to all of the locations where one’s ancestors lived, but Google Earth means you can experience those locations from the comfort of your own home. Learn how the streets are laid out, what the buildings look like and more, for a great cultural snapshot. 

2. Get a Closer Look: While it’s interesting to locate an ancestor’s home on a globe, you can’t see much detail of the streets and buildings. But Google Earth’s Street View function allows you to get an up-close-and-personal look at a location. The beauty of street view is that it offers you a panoramic view from various positions on the street. 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.


3. Historical Imagery: Google Earth doesn’t just visit modern-day locations; it also has plenty of historical maps. If you want to see the effect that wartime bombing had on Stuttgart, Germany, in World War II. Then, compare it to maps from other time periods to get a sense of how the lay of the land has changed over time.  
Register for Map Your Family History with Google Earth today!


Features & Benefits:

  • Two video classes: Four Genealogy Projects With Google Earth and Best Websites for Finding Historical Maps
  • Five step-by-step lessons from the course Google Earth for Genealogists
  • Lesson on Locating Your Ancestral Town, highlighting numerous geography tools and websites, from the Finding Your Ancestral Village course
  • Consultations with Google Earth guru Lisa Louise Cooke-ask questions and get personalized feedback on your Google Earth projects
  • And much more!