Google Earth for Genealogists - February 2023

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Google Earth for Genealogists

Travel in your ancestors' footsteps with Google Earth. This great tool for genealogists will help you pinpoint the starting location of your immigrant ancestors and experience faraway locations to bring depth and a new perspective to your family history research.

DATE: February 27, 2023 - March 26, 2023

Travel in your ancestors' footsteps without leaving the comfort of your own home by learning how to use Google Earth. Google Earth, a free software program, is a great tool for genealogists who want to pinpoint the starting location of their immigrant ancestors and other family, and lets you experience faraway locations, getting in as close as street level, so you can really see what your ancestor's hometown looks like. In Google Earth for Genealogists, you’ll get five written and video lessons that tap into the program’s robust features to bring depth and a new perspective to your family history research.

In Google Earth for Genealogists with Lisa Louise Cooke, you'll learn:

  • How to save, share and organize information in Google Earth and Google Earth Pro
  • How to overlay historical maps
  • How to use Google Earth street view to see what your ancestor's hometown looks like now - and may have looked like when they lived there
  • How to plot your ancestor’s homestead
  • How to create a virtual “family history tour” to share with others
  • and more!

"This is a wonderful course! Lisa has made very clear, step-by-step video presentations that guide the user through each element of how to use Google Earth, and provides great examples of the various ways Google Earth can be used to support our family stories and research!" - Anna D.

About the Instructor

Lisa Louise Cooke

Lisa Louise Cooke is the producer and host of the Genealogy Gems Podcast and the weekly YouTube show Elevenses with Lisa (both available at her website She’s the author of five books including The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox 3rd Edition, and a podcast producer and instructor and columnist for Family Tree Magazine.


Course Outline

Lesson 1: Getting Started

  • Introduction
  • Locating Ancestral Homes and Locations
    • Exercise: Plot an Ancestor’s Home
    • Getting a Closer Look
    • Exercise: View Your Ancestor’s Home with Street View
  • Exploring Additional Locations
  • Lesson Quiz

Lesson 2: Saving, Organizing and Sharing

  • Introduction
  • Placemarks: Creating, Naming and Organizing
    • Exercise: Create and Name a Placemark
  • Folders
    • Exercise: Create Surname Folders
  • Moving Placemarks Between Folders
  • Deleting Files or Folders
  • Organizing Files
  • Saving Images
    • Exercise: Sharing Grandma’s House
  • Copying Images
  • Emailing Locations
  • Printing
  • Lesson Quiz

Lesson 3: Historic Images and Maps

  • Introduction
  • Historical Imagery
    • Exercise: Revisiting World War II
  • Rumsey Historical Maps
    • Exercise: The Streets of San Francisco
    • Exercise: Save the 1915 San Francisco Map to the Places Panel
  • Creating Your Own Custom Historic Map Overlay
    • Exercise: Create Your First Custom Historic Map Overlay
    • Tip: Find Plat Maps Online
  • Saving and Sharing Custom Historic Map Overlays
    • Exercise: Save Your First Map Overlay to Your Computer
  • Where Google Earth and the Census Intersect
  • Going Visiting
  • Lesson Quiz

Lesson 4: Plotting Your Ancestor’s Homestead

  • Introduction
  • Plotting An Ancestor’s Homestead
    • How to Search the BLM Website
    • Tip: Saving and Printing Land Patents
  • Land Patent Details
    • How to Plot an Ancestor’s Land Patent
  • Don’t Stop There
    • Exercise: Virtually Visit the Old Homestead
  • Get to Know the Community
  • Lesson Quiz

Lesson 5: Fun with Images and Videos

  • Introduction
  • Genealogical Images in Placemarks
    • How to Add an Image to a Placemark
    • How to Rename a Placemark
    • How to Revise a Placemark
  • Adding Videos to Google Earth Maps
    • How to Add a Video to a Placemark
    • Exercise: Add Existing Video to a Google Earth Map
  • Focusing on an Area
    • Exercise: Outline the Area of Focus
  • Recording a Family History Tour of Your Embellished Map
    • Exercise: Record a Family History Tour
  • Adding a Virtual Tour Guide Placemark
    • Exercise: Create a Virtual Tour Placemark
  • Saving Content Rich Family History Maps
    • Exercise: Pulling It All Together
  • Sharing Content Rich Family History Maps
  • Conclusion
  • Lesson Quiz


How do Family Tree University workshops work?

Take the course at your own pace! 

From the course start date, you’ll be able to log in to view and access your lessons and start interacting on the discussion boards. Your instructor will check in regularly to answer all of the questions and provide feedback. You will have access to your courses anytime, anywhere, with a computer, tablet or smartphone, and can study when it's most convenient for you.

After the course end date, the course will become read-only for one year. You will continue to have access through your dashboard to the materials, but the discussion boards will be closed. The materials are yours to keep. You can download them onto your desktop to access online or offline.

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