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One of my research goals is to visualize my family history on a map
showing all the places my ancestors lived and worked.
I found plenty of advice in last month’s Family Tree University One-Week Workshop,
Map Your Family History With Google Earth. Participants studied course materials and
created a family history map project with guidance from Google
Earth expert Lisa Louise Cooke.
Here are a few tips from Lisa for using Google Earth and finding old maps of places
your family lived:
A great source of old maps to use with Google Earth is the David
Rumsey Historical Map Collection. Sign up for a free account for access to the
highest resolution downloadable maps (You can still download up to about medium resolution
if you aren’t signed in).
Instead of using the “Search the Site” box, scroll down on the home page and use the
Map Rank Search tool to search by year and location.
More of Lisa’s favorite sites for maps are the Library
of Congress American Memory Map Collection, the British
Library, the University
of Georgia Hargrett Rare Book & Manuscript Library, and the University
of Texas Perry-Castaneda Library Map Collection.
Lisa recommends using Google to find online plat maps (these show property boundaries
and owners’ names), which might be anywhere from large mapping web sites to a genealogist’s
own site. Try doing a Google Image search with
keywords such as Indiana “Randolph County” “Plat map.”
Another strategy to find plat maps is to run a Google
Books search on a county, state and the term “plat map.” If the book you want
isn’t fully digitized, copy the title and search for it at WorldCat to
find libraries that have that book.
You can have Google email you when Google Maps or Google Earth map images are updated,
or Street View becomes available, for the areas where your ancestors lived. Go to Follow
Your World, log in with your Google account, and follow the prompts.
Google Earth doesn’t auto save, so if it crashes on you, you’ll lose your work. Every
so often, go up to the menu and select File>Save My Places to save everything in
Enhance your family history search with the maps
and how-to guide on Family Tree Magazine‘s new Genealogy Map Collection CD.
Check out Family Tree University’s next One-Week
Workshop, How to Research Genealogy Records, with video classes on essential family
history records and guidance from expert researcher Lisa