Creating a Virtual Hometown Tour With Google My Maps

Google My Maps can help you create a virtual tour of an ancestor's home. #genealogy #resources #ancestors

Ever wished you could visit the hometown of an ancestor but you don’t know if you’ll ever make it what if I told you you could create a virtual tour of your ancestral hometown using Google My Maps.

In a previous post and video, Melissa Finley from Boundless Genealogy.com explained how to create a basic Google My Maps on your computer. Remember, you have to use your desktop or laptop computer and then you can access your Google My Maps from any device, even mobile devices.

In this video, she explains how to to create a virtual tour for your ancestors by showing case the one she created for ancestors who lived in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Be sure to watch it for all the tips and tricks.

Set Up Your Virtual Hometown Tour on Google My Maps

The first step was to create a new Google My Map and name it Oklahoma City Genealogy (yours would insert the location of your ancestors).

Next add a description about it your map, such as, “this map marks the historic living locations of the Barton, Corn, and Stevens families.” You can also add the years they lived there.

When applicable, create separate layers for each family surname. In this case, Melissa created one layer for the Barton family, another layer for the Stevens family, and a third layer for the Corn family.

A fourth can include places of interest around town that might overlap between the families involved in those locations.

By having the families on separate layers, you can toggle the family layers on and off so you can simplify your maps based on family lines.

Add pins to your virtual hometown tour.

Add Markers on Your Virtual Hometown Tour

Once your layers are in place, start adding specific pins to your Google My Map to create your virtual hometown tour.

Create pins for:

  • homes
  • cemeteries
  • family businesses
  • schools
  • family churches

When you create the marker, add details to help you know more about the locations:

  • The Corn Family lived in 1920
  • Arch Corn, Sr and Eula Corn Davis share marker in this cemetery

By adding the pins and the description, you and your family members can virtually tour Oklahoma City, and surrounding areas, learning more about the family members who have gone before.

Add images to your virtual hometown tour.

Add Images to Your Virtual Hometown Tour

In addition to adding pins and descriptions, you can add images to your virtual tour on Google My Maps. For each pin you add, you can add photos of your family at those churches, businesses, family homes, etc. You will have marked the specific spots on our map but also have added engaging visual content.

Add videos to your virtual hometown tour.

Add Videos to Your Virtual Hometown Tour

If you have video content and have uploaded those to YouTube, you can add a link to the movie clip to your markers. Whenever you click on a video-enhanced pin, you watch the video about the family living at each address,

Think of all the fun details you can add to your virtual tour using Google My Maps.

Share Your Virtual Hometown Tour on Google My Maps

Once you have created your tour, you can share your My Map with your family. Google makes it very easy to share. Simply click on the share icon. Copy the link and share it with your family. You invite them by email address or you can grab the embed code and embed the video on a family blog post.

Creating a virtual family history tour of your ancestral hometowns it’s pretty easy using Google My Maps. Melissa says they are fun to share with family members, especially for family reunions.

Give these tips a try. Then let me know what virtual family history tour you created!

Be sure to thank Melissa for these great tips by following her YouTube Channel, Boundless Genealogy where she teaches you how to squeeze more clues out of the documents you find in your family history search.

Use this free mapping resource to create full-featured experience to showcase your ancestral hometown using Google My Maps. #genealogy #virtualtour #roadtrip
Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee is passionate about capturing and preserving family stories so no one alive today has to be researched, or forgotten, tomorrow. She has authored 6 how-to books, a memoir, two published family history biographies, and over 60 family scrapbooks. She's an enthusiastic speaker who energizes, encourages, and educates at the same time.

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