Tips for Uncovering Your Ancestor’s Locations With Google Earth

By Vanessa Wieland

If you’re looking for a fantastic digital tool to map your family history, Google Earth Pro can’t be beaten. Here are some tips for using the software from our course, Google Earth for Genealogy, starting Monday, October 29th.

Google Earth for Genealogy online course

Understand Your Ancestor’s Geography

Want to explore your ancestor’s hometown? You don’t have to get into a car or on a plane to see it. Instead, use Google Earth to find the location. In fact, here’s an easy way to get immediate use of the software: Drag the orange pegman to take a look at your location from a street-level view.

Of course, you can do so much more with Google Earth, and this 4-week course will show you how to make use of all the bells and whistles.

Add Historical Context

On the surface, Google Earth offers a modern-day contemporary view of the world, but geographic history is an important element of the program. Here’s a fun tip: Watch for the clock icon to show up in the bottom left along with a date. That tells you that historical imagery exists as far back as that date. Just slide your mouse on the slider to see the imagery from different time frames.

Learn more about using historical images and maps in Google Earth for Genealogists, starting October 29th.

Peel Back the Layers

The Layers panel can provide you with a ton of tools to explore and record your geographical family history. For example, you can look at photos, historical map views, and even explore the history and weather of a place. Some of the layers that you can overlay: National Geographic articles and cultural relevance, David Rumsey Historical Maps, photographs, and more.

Get More Maps with Google Earth

Say there’s no overlay icon showing a David Rumsey map, but you want to see if some exist? No problem! You can download all the maps to create overlays simply by clicking on one of the historical overlay symbols (for example, hover over London on the map) and then click Download Links to all Rumsey Historical Maps.

In Lisa’s own words

“By the end of the Google Earth for Genealogy course you’ll have mastered one of the most powerful tools for uncovering and working with the locations where your ancestors lived, worked, loved, and died: Google Earth. You’ll be able to not only find locations, but work with historic maps, add multimedia content to your maps, and tell your ancestor’s story in a whole new way!” Sign up for Google Earth for Genealogists today!

About the Instructor

Lisa Louise Cooke is the owner of Genealogy Gems, a genealogy and family history multi-media company. In addition to Genealogy Gems, Lisa works closely with Family Tree Magazine as producer and host of the Family Tree Magazine Podcast, a regular article author for the magazine, and curriculum developer and instructor for Family Tree University.

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