Thursday, February 18, 2010

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy: Week 7

The 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy challenge was written by a lady with too many ideas and is graciously hosted each week by You are welcome to join in the fun.

Week 7 of the 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy is as follows:

Play with Google Maps. This is a helpful tool for determining the locations of addresses in your family history.  Where your ancestral homestead once stood may now be a warehouse, parking lot or field. Perhaps the house is still there. When you input addresses into Google Maps, don't forget to use Satellite View and Street View options for perspectives that put you right where your ancestors once stood. If you've used this tool before, take some time to play with it again. Push all the buttons, click all the links, and devise new ways it can help with your personal genealogy research. If you have a genealogy blog, write about your experiences with Google Maps, or suggest similar easy (and free) tools that have helped in your own research.

The very first way I ever used Google Maps for genealogy was to mark six cemeteries for an upcoming road trip to Pope County, Arkansas. I planned on visiting these cemeteries during my visit and want to see exactly where they were in relation to each other. The map I made really helped me save time and get to each of these places, even though I was not familiar with the area.

This week, I used Google Maps as an armchair traveler. I entered in addresses of my ancestors to see what the places look like in the present day. I spent a good half hour using "Street View" and roaming the roads of Rayne, Louisiana where my great-great grandparents are buried.

I have another set of great-great grandparents who owned a waterfront tavern in mid 19th-century Milwaukee. I took a look at what the address holds today. It appears to be a warehouse district.

In the future, I plan on creating custom maps based on family history: migration patterns, locations of families living in the same neighborhood, etc. I also hope to document the events leading up to a murder, but I need a little time to learn where all the players lived.

Sometimes Google Maps will surprise you, especially when the cars responsible for the street-view images capture life along the way. Once upon a time, when I viewed my sister's house in street view, one could see my dad in the driveway. Google has since updated the image, but it was funny while it lasted.

1 comment:

  1. Two years ago this May, I was in Seville, Spain, researching at the General Archive of the Indies, in Sixteenth-Century Spanish documents, a trip sponsored by my university. I stepped out of the apartment building where three other students and I were living, and saw a car coming down the street with a weird rig on top of it. As the car passed, I saw the sign on the door: Google Maps. A few months after I got back home, I looked up the apartment building on Google Maps, looked at the street view, and there I was!

    What a hoot!