Sunday, 17 August 2008

Google Earth: An Excellent Tool in Genealogy Research

Google Earth can be an amazing online tool to assist in our genealogy research.

Today, with high gas prices and rising air fares, it is difficult for many genealogy enthusiasts to make trips to the homes of their ancestors.

But now, we can take a virtual trip, and gain a new perspective into the location and landscape of far away places, which may hold keys to our history.

My first experience using Google Earth to assist in family history research involved searching for my grandfather's farm in Michigan. I live in Arizona, and have never been to Michigan. But, I did have an aerial photo of the farm, along with an address. My paternal grandfather had passed away some forty years ago, and I had never met the man or had the opportunity to visit his farm.

After downloading the free version of Google Earth on my computer, I typed in the address to the farm in the upper left hand corner search box. Suddenly the earth pictured on the site began to whirl, and I found myself being whisked to Michigan. It didn't take long to identify the farm, even though it had been over four decades since the picture was taken. Many of the buildings remained, and matched the photo I had of the farm. Amazingly, the online image was very clear.

It was pretty fascinating, and soon I began zooming to Norway, Sweden, and even my old neighborhood in Covina California. I noticed some images were remarkably clear, showing cars and in some instances, people. Some searches did not bring terrific visual results, and were only clear from a distance.

Using Google Earth brings into perspective the geography of our family history. Even though the satellite images are fairly recent, they allow us to get the general lay of the land, along with giving us a better idea where the area is located. Some searches even provide snapshots of the area, so we can see more elevation visuals, rather than just the roof tops. -- Bobby Holmes, Associated Content.
  • The picture on top shows the Krugersdorp-Roodepoort area. The next picture is a zoom into supposedly a smallholding in the same area.

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