Monday, November 21, 2011 buys and

So, by now the news has probably reached everyone that has acquired and This is a major announcement from some major players in the online genealogy world.  I was first introduced to some years back when they purchased I have been using as well as for many years now and have found both to be valuable research tools. Each of these sites have their own purpose. MyHeritage is a social network with a great collaborative tree, photo recognition and smart matching capability. WorldVitalRecords has a large collection of records, including newspapers, yearbook collections, links to Google Books, FindAGrave and many others from the FamilyLink collection. Another thing that I have liked about MyHeritage is the international membership. There are over 60 million users from around the world and the site is published in 38 languages. I have been able to link up with people in Germany, England, Australia and other places through common individuals in our family trees. MyHeritage has offices in Europe, Israel, Australia, and now after this purchase, Utah in the US.

So what does this mean in the realm of online genealogy research? That is a good question. I hope this means that they will allow linking of records to their family trees, much like currently does. I also hope that this will open up the international records to many more people so we can further our research overseas. Only time will tell, but I do see great things from this merger.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Mapping Your Ancestors

I hope everyone is doing well as we get closer to the major holiday season. I have been playing with a few websites and recently discovered a few new ways to use Google Earth and Google  Maps to enhance my understanding of my ancestors. These are wonderful tools that can help you find where your ancestors lived and see what those areas look like today.

The first site is probably one that you have used before. It is the Bureau of Land Management General Land Office Records site which can be found at There are two main parts of the website which I find very useful. The first is the Land Patent search site. A search on this site might result in finding a digital copy of the original land patent your ancestor was granted. This document provides the Section, Township and Range, as well as the specific parcel of land that was purchased. The second area of the website provides the Plat Image which consists of the original survey maps for the land. These old surveys can provide you an idea of the landmarks which were present at the time the land was originally surveyed.
The combination of these two documents provides you with some pretty interesting information. However, there is another site which lets you map these old parcels on a current map in Google Earth. Google Earth is a satellite mapping program which can be downloaded at Google Earth is a wonderful tool which allows you to look at current, as well as historic, aerial imagery. So, how do you take the information from the land patent and find the location on Google Earth? Well, that takes another website called Earth Point. This site does have a subscription service, however the information I will provide allows you to map locations for free. Earth Point can be found on the web at

Once there, you can enter the data from the land patent, such as state, township, range and section in the blanks on the Earth Point website. Make sure you have Google Earth running before you click the "Fly To On Google Earth" button. When you click the button Google Earth will pop up and you will see a pink box showing the section where the parcel was located. You can then figure out what part of the section was granted to your ancestor.

Pretty cool, right? So, maybe now you want to see what that early property might have looked like. Or maybe you have old photos of the house and you would like to post those to a mapping website, like Google Maps, so others can see what the area looked like back in history. There is a fairly new website called What Was There located at This site lets you upload your old photos and incorporate them into Google Maps and the Street View. Once you upload the photo to this site you can search the Street View for the proper location and angle to superimpose your photo on the existing property. You can fade in and out to see how well the two pictures match. One thing I would like to see added to this site is the ability to warp the pictures so they fit the current scene a little better. Other than that, this site is a wonderful tool to get a glimpse into the past.

Mapping adds another dimension to your research and brings it to life. Try these new websites and let me know what you think.