02 April 2009

Ancestral Research and Nostalgia through Google Street View

Have you used Google Maps recently and clicked on a little yellow human-like figure situated just above the zoom feature?

In some ways Google Street View can be perceived as an invasion of privacy.  Anyone with access to the facility can wander virtually down your street and look at where you live.

Yet there are some great benefits for family history researchers when using Google Maps, and Google Earth. Satellite images of urban and rural landscapes where your ancestors lived can be explored in a relatively easy way.  It can seem as if you are flying over the area in a helicopter or on flying carpet or taking a journey along a road in a chauffeured limousine.


Street View can save a research trip, and hence quite a lot of money and polluting energy and inconvenience - and no helicopter noise, either.

I recently took a virtual trip on Street View to where I used to live and work in London.  I also explored where some of my ancestors lived in the city, without having to worry about getting lost or getting wet in the rain.  I also enjoyed the nostalgia of being able to wander up Regent Street from Piccadilly Circus, without the crowds, all from the comfort of my Australian home.

If you would like to know more about using Street View, here is a helpful Google link.

I often enjoy using Google Maps to see satellite images of places I have lived or visited, and places where my ancestors lived. There are also interesting websites of local areas (especially tourist websites), many with photographs. Another useful source of pictorial views is Flickr.

I find Flickr is also a good place to find better images of places I have visited than my old, out-of-focus holiday snaps!  I'll mention more about this in the coming weeks in my Continual Journeys blog.

Well, let me know what you have found out... and enjoy exploring!

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I especially appreciate historical insights.