For this week's segment of 52 Weeks . . . Google Maps!
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.
I have used Google maps some. In fact, I am on Google Maps! Type in Calle Rodrigo de Triana 20, Seville, Spain, and pan around without moving forward or back, until you see someone wearing a striped blue-and-white shirt and brown pants with white shoes standing just outside an apartment building. My face is fuzzed out, bless Google's lawyered-up hearts, but that is me when I was in Seville to do research at the General Archive of the Indies!
I just looked up some addresses in my ancestry -- the house where my grandparents lived when my mother was born. The house is still there. I tried looking up another address, where my mother's grandparents lived in Logansport, Indiana, but apparently Google hasn't got there yet because it would not shift to a street view. Too bad.
I also saw that the house where my great-great grandparents lived in Bloomington, Illinois, is probably still standing, too! Wow. My great-great grandfather died in 1881. That's a long time, and I certainly do not expect the house I'm living in now, built in 1992, to be around for that long. They just don't build 'em like they used to!
One thing we do have to keep in mind is that house numbers may change over the course of time. The houses where my husband's parents and grandparents lived, right next door to each other, changed house numbering in the early 20th century. Apparently the house numbers on the street where my mother's family lived when she was born changed, too.
I prefer to play with Google Earth, however. There I get a real perspective of where everything is -- and where everyone was -- on the planet. I have "pins" stuck all over the planet on Google Earth, from ancestral stomping grounds in Suffolk, England, to Seville to mark my sojourn there, to places all over the U.S. where my family has lived at one time or another, from Massachusetts to California, and even up into Canada for a three-generation interval. I can draw lines on Google Earth, too. That's nice for marking migration routes. But as for migration routes, what I would really like is a huge wall map on which to plot those. What I need in our tiny house is a huge wall to display it!