Sunday, February 22, 2015

Why just Google Earth when you can go PRO

Now is the time to act. Google Earth just recently announced that their $400 a year upgrade to Google Earth "Google Earth Pro" is available now for free. For genealogy there really was not a reason to go Pro especially at that price tag but when you say free I say why not. You can get started by going here . What I did was fill out the form and get a Key. The site now says you can just download GE Pro and type in GEPFREE in to the License Key and away you go.

From what I have seen so far the rest is seamless. Its mapping your MyPlaces from the same place as your standard GE so you don't have to go hunt that down.  It even appears to talk to both versions so if you accidental start making placemarkers in one program and then decide you want to print out a map at a higher resolution you can open up GE Pro and do so.

Few things that are new with the Pro version. High-resolution printing capability which is a huge thumbs up from me. You can now print some big maps and they have all sorts of other features like being able to add a title, compass, and more all from the save image feature. There is a Movie Maker, I haven't tried this one yet. Another thumbs up goes to Area Measurement, before you can only measure lines and paths, but now you can do polygons, like the family land. The last is Superoverlays, haven't played with this one either but hope it's not much more then overlays for larger files. I know I have some maps that I would like higher resolution imports vs having to dial it down to smooth out the process.

I will try to get my head around these new features and get some instruction posted soon. If you see something you want me to hit on first let me know.

Thanks for checking this post out, now don't wait and go download your Google Earth Pro now while you still can.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Saving and Printing with Google Earth

It's one thing to document your families tells in Google Earth, but you need to be able to share it with others, and let that story be told. One way to do this without your family having to download their own Google Earth is to save and/or print images from your globe. This can all be done really easy and takes no time at all.

First zoom, rotate, tilt your globe to wherever, whatever your are wanting to share with your family. Then make sure you have what ever item you are wanting to share click ON in your MY PLACES folder or any other layers you want to share. Then all you have to do is go to File > Save > Save as Image. Then a pop up window will show up to select and name your image location and title. Then hit Save. You're done. You now can go to your file location and email to your friends and family like any other file.

More tips and things to know about printing Google Earth Images.
One thing you need to know is Google Earth only save at 72dpi. That is fixed, not much you can do about that. However your pixels is some what in your your control. Understand this first, with Google Earth Pro you get a lot more features. What I am talking about here is just the free version of Google Earth. The pixels you save your image at is somewhat in your control based on what the resolution of your screen is. I'm talking about going outside your Google Earth and looking at the resolution on your computer screen. If your computer screen is at 800x600 then you will have a lower resolution image than if you had your screen at 1024x768 or if you have a 4K screen you could have resolution about 3840 x 2160.
Another thing about Google Earth that isn't the best because you lose information is, you can only have one balloon open at a time. So if you wanted to share info about multiple placemarkers you would only be able to display the info from the placemarkers balloon one at a time. There really isn't a work around for this but to add the missing info to the email, powerpoint, or printing in on the back of the image. ie. When I print a cemetery map, I will save the image and then print an info sheet on the back of the image that explains who, what, and when the placemarker is talking about.

Monday, June 9, 2014


Sorry I haven't posted in a while. Life just got really busy and I hadn't made time to write a post. Plus I am working towards tutorial videos not just screen shots of how I do stuff in Google Earth.

Well this blog just went over 10,000 views. I'm so excited, I didn't really comprehend how much other people would be interested in using Google Earth for their family research and storytelling. I promise I will have you a new post and video's soon with great tips to bringing your families story to life.

Thanks for your patience and understanding and will talk to you again soon.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Follow Your Family's Trail with Google Earth

I wanted to take a moment and thank GenealogyKC for allowing me to present at their conference this year. THANK YOU!!! I had a blast.

I ended up presenting 4 times, "Follow Your Family's Trail with Google Earth" the same material each time. Both Friday and Saturday I was in the small rooms just after lunch and then the large corner rooms for the last presentation of each day. I think it worked out great, my small class rooms didn't even have standing room avalible and the large rooms had every seat filled. I did not get a good head count but based on how many handouts I had left over I had ~183 people come watch the presentation. I really enjoyed myself presenting to this crowd. They were all very interactive, a few oohed and aahed, and some very good questions. I already have been asked to speak at another event this fall.

I hope you are all able find this site ok. Please feel free to drop me a line letting me know you came from Genenalogy KC. The blog is still young but if there is something you are needing help on let me know. My plan is to start adding video to this blog by the end of next month, so stay tuned.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Overlay... Window to the Past

The next feature in the Google Earth toolbox is the Overlay. This is by far my favorite component to use for my family history, but it can also be the hardest to get correct. When I say overlay I am talking about taking an image and stretching it out over the globe like a magic blanket. I say magic because not only can you lay it out over an area, but you can turn on the terrain and make a three dimensional overlay, so if you are in a mountain range then you can still see those features instead of just a two dimensional picture. But wait there is more, just like Polygons you can adjust the transparency of the overlay to see what is underneath it too.
Stargard, Germany abt Oct 1944
Like I said earlier this is my most used tools, I have used overlay for flying routes, shipping lanes, and mostly used for plat maps. I love plat maps, it's like my little window to the past. You can take a plat map, stretch it over the township your ancestors lived in and then use that to figure out where things from the past laid in today's land. For instance, how many times have you see a old farm field turn into a subdivision. What I have done is place that plat map over the township and then used placemarkers to mark the Church, School, and Cemetery and then my polygons to mark the farm.
New York Township, Caldwell Co, MO 1930
You can find historic plat maps in a county atlas, or even googling for plot maps will lead you to all sorts of digital images of different counties and townships. Just make sure you watch your copyright laws. Just like all the other tools in google earth overlays too have a description box. This is a perfect place to put your source citation. Any notes you have on that particular overlay, even just jot something down about how you feel about that family discovery. Overlays I think are a key piece when sharing with family too. You all have heard the phrase “You can't be a prophet in your own land” (Luke 4:24), sometimes your family might find it hard to believe that your placemarker marks the location of Great Great Grandpa's farm house. That's where the overlay is nice because it is someone elses drawling of the land, who was alive at the time that your ancestor lived there, all you did was overlay it onto a modern map. The last thing I usually do with my plat map overlays and I have started adding to all my google earth tools, is adding a time stamp. Its by no means required it just adds another layer of realism to the story you are telling. The time stamp also allows you to have multiple files clicked ON while not having them became a huge pile of mess. The time stamps can be set to only show then activated by the time slider.

I hope you all will find a piece of your families history to overlay and create your own window to the past.  

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Paths... Migration Up Hill Both Ways

Paths I will have to admit is one of the least used features of my google earth.  That being said its not without its uses, I just haven't ever made time to build a story out of it, but here is what I have used it for.

Paths are just lines, connecting point A to point B.  When I say lines, I don't mean just strait lines, you can drag, point, or click anywhere on your map to create your story.   Paths don't have to be tied to the ground either, you can have them float above the ground and/or even have it's lines extend to the ground.

So what stories can you tell with Paths?  I have seen and used them for many different things, from Civil War Marching routes, Grandpa's walk to school: you know... "up hill both ways" maybe you have a story of taking the wagon train west.  How about a old hunting trail, I have even used it to map a bombing mission route from England to Germany.

So here is what I have to show you today.  This is a path I have created showing the migration path of the family line of the Sutlief from my 11th Great grandfather Abraham Sutlief to my last move to Kansas City Missouri.  I am not going to go through the whole story with you but my family arrived in the Americas about 1623 and stayed in the Northeast until after the War of 1812.  Then after the early death of John Sutlief in 1835 one George Washington Sutlief decided to head to the Wild West of the Territory Kansas.  The Sutlief's stay in the Atchison, Kansas area for a few generations with a small stint in Ft Carson CO during Vietnam.  Then back to Atchison before moving to what I now call home Kansas City MO.

So what trail will you draw to document your family.  Will it be the summer vacation to grandma's house, or who your family crosses the Atlantic Ocean from Denmark to the great Mississippi River before taking the wagon train to Salt Lake City.  Leave a Comment and Share how you might create a Path in your own globe of Google Earth.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Polygon... Family Land

The Polygon feature of Google Earth is what I like to use when I find family land. Its a great feature where no matter what the shape of the land, you can outline the property with Polygon. It's a great way to highlight an area.

Just like placemarkers they have a Name and a Description, however their name field doesn't show text next to the Polygon like placemarkers do. Back to descriptions, you can use this to add pictures, maybe you have a picture of the old homestead or the original deed. I am usually using the Bureau of Land Management to find old land grants and I use the land description in the description box of the Polygon. Then when you create the Polygon you have the visual and when you click on it the balloon pops up with the raw description of the land. Color coding your family land can be very helpful as you are plotting family land. If your family is anything like mine, families that stayed in one place for very long, eventually end up marring the farmers daughter next door, and color coding will help you identify the different family groups. You may also be able to identify other locations to research, if a family owns all the land around but not a certain parcel of land, maybe you need to look into why they didn't purchase it or maybe you haven't discovered ownership yet.

The visualization benefit to using Google Earth and the Polygon feature is amazing. Helping identify migration patterns, the community church they worshiped at, or even the local burial ground. I have even had to do research into a old coal mine that was on the property, but wouldn't have known if I never took the land description and actually plotted the land out.

Family Land isn't the only thing I use Polygons for in Google Earth. I use them in cemeteries and military projects I have created too, really anything where I am trying to highlight an area of interest. The cool thing google has done is you aren't restricted to a two dimensional outline you can make it three dimensional also and either have it follow the shape of the terrain or even float above the area you are focused on.  Be on the look out for upcoming posts on how to make three dimensional Polygons.