Discovery Your Family History

Using Google Maps To Visualize Where Your Ancestors Lived

While doing your LDS family search, you will do whatever it takes to find newspaper articles, public records, photographs, and any other bits of information you can find to build your family tree. The family records themselves can give you interesting titbits of information to begin your family’s story. However, finding important details such as names, dates of birth, marriage, and death, places where your ancestors lived, and other such scraps of information can be tedious, and takes long hours of methodical research to piece together your family narrative. These bits and pieces of information can be considered archaeological genealogy, as you dig through this information to create your family’s history by using geographical locations. You may wonder how this can be done, and what technology you can use to help your children continue the LDS family search after you’re gone. The answer to these and other such questions is simple.

Setup A Free Google Account

You can set up a free Google account by simply creating a username and password. Once you have set up your account, visit the Google maps web site to start your genealogical research. Google maps allow you, as a researcher, to highlight areas of interest to your family history by placing pins in certain areas of interest. You can also ad notes, pictures, and other information to your strategically placed pins. This feature is especially helpful to you if you are trying to discover the timeline of an ancestor or your ancestor’s entire family. By placing pins in specific geographical points, you can follow your ancestors through their migration period, and see the neighbourhoods where they once lived. In this context, the term neighbourhood is used to mean a large area, because in the days of the early American settlers, people didn’t live in close proximity to one another; however, they lived, communicated, and worked with the people who lived within a few miles of each other. Census schedules, church membership lists, probate records, and other such documents list the names of people who were acquainted with, or who were otherwise in contact with your ancestors. By dropping pins in the neighbourhood, or as it is called geotagging the information you have about your ancestor’s and his or her neighbours’ activities, you can begin to create a timeline about your ancestor’s neighbourhood, to ad historical and geographical information about your heritage while you make other fascinating discoveries about your family’s history.

Geo Tagging With Google Maps

Geo tagging is an important tool for your LDS family search, because it allows you to use longitude and latitude coordinates to mark a specific location where your ancestors resided. You can geotag landmarks such as headstones, cemeteries, homesteads, and other places where your ancestors may have lived or were buried. Google maps are one of many web sites that will allow you to geotag landmarks of interest to your family. There is a Google maps mobile app that is available for those of you who own a smart phone or other hand held mobile device through Apple, android, Samsung, and other such companies. This app is very useful for geotagging locations while you are conducting your LDS family search on the go. While you visit a location you have geotagged for your family history research, you can drop pins with photos you have taken, transcriptions from some sites like grave markers, and your own notes and citations for review later on.

Another wonderful thing about Google maps is that it is simple to use, and you don’t have a lot of buttons to press or click, and you don’t have a lot of confusing bells and whistles to try to memorize. However there are some helpful features for genealogists to use that you may want to become familiar with before using this tool for your LDS family search. These features include the click and drag feature, which is noted by the hand icon; the pin drop feature, noted by the pin icon, and last, but certainly not least, the line feature which can be identified by a lightning strike icon. These features can be accessed when you click on edit. They are located at the top of your screen near the zoom in/zoom out feature.

To begin creating your own Google map, click on the my places feature. You can choose a title for each map you create, as well as a description to give your viewers more information about your maps. The My places feature also allows you to create more than one map, depending on your research needs. Once you have created a title and description for each of your maps, you can begin editing the maps themselves. While editing your map, you can zoom in on specific locations where your ancestors either lived or worked during a certain time period, and drop coloured pins to these locations to mark them for future use. Notes, reference citations, and photos can be attached to these pins at this point of the editing process. Each pin that you drop to mark your ancestor’s places of interest, is accompanied with a note box.

Once you drop a pin, click on the pin, to see the note box. While in the note box, you can add as much information as you need to make accurate notes about your family history, which may also include citations and pictures as well. Once you see the note box, choose the font you want, and ad links, bullets, ore pictures by clicking on rich text. Now that you have dropped pins and added notes to these pins in specific locations on your map, you can use the line feature to draw lines and/or shapes between the pins you have dropped on your map. These lines and shapes can be used to track an ancestor’s migration, show property or historical land boundary changes. The fascinating thing about this feature is that once you draw a line from pin to pin, Google maps automatically calculate the miles from point A to point B and so on. By this way, you can estimate how many miles your ancestors travelled during their migration to their new home land in the United States.

Another unique feature of Google maps is the availability to share your maps with your distant relatives via email with the collaboration function. With the collaboration feature, you can choose as many people as you wish to view and edit your maps. This can be an advantage to your distant relatives, because they can add details to help you recreate your family lineage. The map can be used as a project for the entire family, so that you can recreate your ancestors’ environment. You can also share your maps with your family members through social media outlets, such as Facebook and twitter, by adding a link to your map to your social media pages. No matter whether you are sharing the map with your children, or asking for their help in creating a map, Google maps allows younger generations an opportunity to continue learning about your family’s history, no matter how technology savvy they may be.

Researching your family history will provide interesting historical information in general that you may need to document along your genealogical journey. Not only will you be able to see your ancestors’ migration routes, but you may find a bit of oral family history along the way that you can add to your family tree. As you can see, Google maps are a useful tool for genealogists and family historians around the world.

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