Did your ancestors come from Europe, Asia, or Africa? Have they always lived in New Zealand, the United States, or South America? Many families have roots that span various different countries. Wouldn’t it be neat to have a map that showed where your different family lines came from and how they converge to be where you are today?
One tool in particular that can do this for free is Google Maps. You can add information and pictures about each location, add a description about the family line, and share the information with your family members.
Below is a simple example of what you can create. It’s easy to do and can really help the younger family members visualize where the family came from. On Google Maps, you can “zoom” in or out of the map you’re looking at to get different views. Converge lines where marriages occurred.
Family Location Map Setup
- You’ll need a free Google Account. If you don’t have one, click the “Sign In” link at the top of the Google Maps page to create a free account (this way, you’ll be able to save your maps).
- Once you have an account, click on the “My Maps” tab on Google Maps.
- Select “Create New Map” and name your map.
- You’ll now be able to add place markers and lines to your map by clicking the icons in the top left of your map.
- When you set a marker, you can give it a name (the family name) and even add pictures to the description. Paste in a short history about the person or family line to really take advantage of what the maps provide.
- Add lines to connect your markers to designate emigration paths.
Add as many markers and lines that you need to map your family’s movements throughout the ages. Use different colors of markers and lines (click to edit the line or marker to change the color) for different families. You can also zoom in to the street level and set markers there if you like.
This exercise is very helpful for young family members who are wondering where your ancestors came from and where your countries of origin are located.
Sharing Your Ancestry Location Map
You can share you map in a number of ways:
- Use the Google Maps print option (zoom out to the desired level you want to see).
- Save it in a personal history. Use the print screen function on your keyboard to copy the map and then paste it into a word processing document.
- Use the email link in Google Maps to email a link of the map.
Mapping your Genealogy by geography can be very helpful to family members who like to “see” how things come together. Get started, and have fun!