09 November 2015

Location, Location in Family History Research

Real estate agents often say similar properties are worth more or less depending on where they are located.

Do you value the geographical origins of some of your ancestors more than others?
Do the homes of any of your ancestors still exist today?

What is the current resale value of the property they lived in?

Did they own their homes or did they rent them?

Why did your ancestors move from one place to another?

And what about workplaces?  Do any of the workplaces of your ancestors still exist?

If your ancestors had employers, did they live in accommodation provided by those employers?

Did any of your ancestors spend part of their lives in Italy, England, Australia, Belgium or Ulster, or did they live elsewhere?

Do the places where they married still exist?

Google streetview is one way to discover or rediscover a location.  Another is to search through real estate listings.  

For example, in England I know that real estate agents are still called estate agents.  But even that information is not necessary when a street name is known.  

Several property listings exist.  Typing the name of a street into Google or another search engine often reveals real estate listings first.

I have found that the house of my grandparents in England has been sold several times in recent years.  I lived there as a young child and in my late teens.  It was first sold during my lifetime soon after my grandfather died, just after I first came to Australia.  

That house had been a haven for me when I was growing up.  It always seems strange, when I go back to England, that the house of my grandparents belongs to a stranger.  It has been sold several times in recent years. 

Through real estate listings, I have been able to look again at the layout of the house.  I have been able to see how the garden looks, and even a few of the rooms.  The house has been extensively renovated.  My grandparents would not even recognise it. 

The outside is painted a different colour.  The windows have been changed.  The back garden is now only a lawn.  I remember it as being mainly of bright flowers, with a greenhouse of tomatoes.

I have looked at other family locations, too, through real estate agent listings online, including other places I lived or visited as a child.  I have even been able to look inside some of those houses on websites.

And when I look at Google streetview, I simply take a photograph of that part of screen.  It is almost the same as going there in person.

Locations are worth more to me, emotionally, when I think about them in relation to my heritage.  There is little expense involved in collecting readily available images for my own private reminiscing.  The pictures help to jog my memory.  The places I knew as a child and my recalled memories make me realise that so much has changed since then!

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I especially appreciate historical insights.