Picturing Your Ancestral Village

When I do genealogy research, I often wonder what peoples lives were like, and what the places they lived were like. I made a display for our local Family History Fair about this very subject.

What Was There
WhatWasThere is a photo/map pinning site. On this site there are basically just two tags for a photo, the location and the date taken. While the focus is historic photos, there are current photos as well (since someday even they will be historic). The goal is to "weave together a photographic history of the world" Some of the photos can be overlaid onto Google street view.

HistoryPin is a website where people can pin historic photos to a map where it was taken. They don't just have individual people posting photos, they have libraries, archives and museums posting as well.

They take a Goggle map, and pin photos to it. They even have some location photos overlaid right into a Google Street View photo. Some of the photos are historical, some are current photos of landmarks and historical plaques and monuments.

How to use HistoryPin
When you click on a photo it gives you a few options. First, is the basic information about the photo, where it is from, who posted it, and tags. You can click on the tags and find related photos.

The next tab on the photo page is 'Comments and Suggestions'. Here you can post your own comment, put additional information about the photo if you have any, ask questions, anything you want.

The App
Then comes 'repeats'. It's modern photo replicas of historic photos. These can be taken with the HistoryPin app. If you know where a photo was taken, you can go there and take a modern photo of the same place. It's kind of neat to see how things have changed over the years. And the last tab has copyright information.

Flickr is a photo sharing site that anyone can upload photos to, including libraries, museums, and archives like the Smithsonian, the Library of Congress, even Getty images.

There are lots of cool genealogy related groups. Some are families, some are places, some more general. You can join lots of groups and post to any or all of them, or just look through what others have posted. For example, there is a group for West Virginia Cemeteries. So if I have photos of my ancestors headstones buried in WV, I can post to that group. Or I can find other more artistic photos of the cemetery and monuments.

Many photos are also geotagged, so you can search a location on a map and find photos taken there.

How to Use Google Earth for Genealogy
Using geographic information found in deeds and addresses from sources such as census data, property where ancestors and neighbors once lived may be marked on historical maps, which can then be overlaid on modern Google maps. 
Geographic features mentioned in property descriptions such as rivers and creeks will appear on topographical maps and in Google’s satellite imagery. 
Using this information, it is possible to locate a family homestead on an historical map and compare the changes to those locations that have occurred over time as the area developed. In some instances, the old home may still be there or a family cemetery.

The Google Earth Library includes items from places like these:
Historic Topos
Geoname – geographical database of 8 million place names
Historic state boundaries
National register of historic places
Rumsey map collection
Us county polygons
Us statehood time animation
USGS topographic maps
World country borders

Make sharable presentations about your ancestors
Create Placemarks for each event or media item
Make folders to organize your placemarks (e.g. a folder for each surname)
Insert your own images, scans of your family photos and documents
Use online sources in the library to add historic maps and photos
Search the BLM website to find land patents and then find their location on the maps
Add personal touches like video recordings, or plotting out a family’s migration
Share your creations with your family to help bring the old homestead to life

Also check out Genealogy Through Google Earth for more information on how to use it.