Old maps give extraordinary insights into the layout of a town and what daily life may have looked like in the past. You can get a real sense of how far an ancestor had to walk to Church or to school or, as in the case of my Liverpool ancestors, to the riverside docks where many of them worked.
Layering images, videos, census records, and pages from old books on top of old maps adds context and gives a strong sense of traveling back through time (a super power every family historian wants!)
Below are a couple of videos demonstrating how I used Google Earth to visually render my Liverpool ancestors’ lives in different ways. The best part (aside from Google Earth being free to download) is sharing this with family around the world.
- Tour #1: James Edward Page’s Life in Liverpool, England (1880-1975)
Includes location markers, images, book excerpts, and videos. [edit: after creating this video, I added WWII bomb site locations to my map and can see some missed James Edward’s home by just a couple of blocks!]
- Tour #2: Ancestors in Liverpool in 1861
My husband and I both have dock labourer ancestors who lived a couple of blocks from another ancestor of mine: Thomas Delaney, a fruit hawker. Seeing them so closely together on the map lets my imagination run wild: did my or my husband’s dock labourer ancestors ever buy fruit from Thomas on their way home from work?
You can download Google Earth Pro for free to your computer and there are loads of resources to help get you started, including:
- Lisa Louise Cooke: Ways to Use Google Earth for Genealogy and Family History
- Google Earth for Genealogy from The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society
- Free Google Earth for Genealogy Video Class from Lisa Louise Cooke
If you’d like help creating your own visual tour for your ancestors, please get in touch. I’m always happy to help and love every chance to travel back through time.