Genealogy/Google Maps

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Pedigree charts, Descendant charts, Register reports, Ahnentafel reports, Timeline reports – they all look at the same data from different view points. Often the very act of looking at the same data that has been worked on for years from a different angle will highlight a link or a correlation that hasn't been noticed before. This in turn may prompt the instigation of new lines of research, extending Family Trees into new directions.

Until recently, geographical mapping of Family Trees was the domain of a handful of enthusiastic Genealogists who had a great deal of time on their hands or who had access to expensive GIS systems to produce maps for web pages. However since the introduction of a number of free mapping sites from Google, Microsoft and Yahoo this technology has now been made accessible to anyone with an Internet connection.

These new technologies provide the researcher with the opportunity to do more than just share static charts or maps with relations or fellow researchers. Now genealogists can share clickable, zoomable maps showing locations of people and events from their family’s history. It is possible to overlay data with another researcher’s data to look for possible correlations. It is even possible overlay digitised copies of old maps and see how the landscape has changed over the years.

The emerging standard way of storing this kind of data is to use KML files which are readily viewed by tools such as Google Maps or Google Earth. These require no special Genealogy software to view and so offer an alternative method of sharing a family tree with friends or relations.

Tools such as Map My Ancestors or Map My Family Tree offer the ability to take existing Family Tree files and geocode the places for viewing in Google Earth.