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* how to use google maps to make a custom genealogy map

10 Steps to create a FREE Custom Google Map

It's so easy, all you need to save to "My Maps" is a free Google account. If you don’t have one, you can sign up for one here.  I use this tool for mapping out the different addresses I find from my ancestors census records, military records, letters, jobs, etc... Addresses can be found in so many places! I love visualizing where they lived and playing with the data. You can then print these maps or invite other people to view your map.

Example: A custom map I made of my Grandfather's WW2 Route

Once you are signed into your Google account follow these 10 steps to create your custom maps!

  1. Click on the MAPS link in the upper left hand corner
  2. Search for a town, place, address in the search bar
  3. Click the marker on the map for the location you were searching for. A bubble window will pop up
  4. On the bottom the bubble you will see a link SAVE TO MAP 
  5. Click this link and a drop down will appear for you to choose which map you would like to save this location to
  6. If this is your first map you will select CREATE A NEW MAP, if not you can choose your map from the drop down menu.
  7. By default a new map will always be named by the first location you add to the map. Whenever you add a new location to a map, a link will appear at the top of the window confirming the addition with a link to VIEW MAP. Click here to view your map.
  8. To edit the name of your map, add a description, add details to your locations, change privacy settings (Your map can be Public or Unlisted, I have my maps unlisted) - click EDIT next to the name of the map.                                                                                                                                      
  9. Want to share your map with a family member or friend? You can! Click on COLLABORATE in the upper left hand corner. Add the email addresses and it will send an emailed link to your map. In this window you can control 2 advanced levels of collaboration, only you the owner of the map can set these permissions.                                                                                                                         1. Do you want to give this specific collaborator the ability to invite other people to view your map?                                                                                                                             2. Do you want to give ALL collaborators the ability to edit this map?
  10. If you want to get a little more advanced with your map, you can customize the shape and color of the place marker for each location your map. This can REALLY enhance your map! I like to play around with the colors.  For a map with 2 or more different families living within a similar area I’ll plot one family with blue markers and another family with red markers. If you want a map to show where families lived over their lifetime, use decade as the variable.  

Example: This is a map I made to track my Wright branches in Philadelphia and Camden. I used different color markers to group addresses by decade.


 To do this, view your map, EDIT your map (step 8), and click on each location to make a change.

You will see this! Click on the icon.                  











Viola! Not too bad, right? If you have any questions, find something confusing, or have anything to add please share in the comments!

Happy Mapping!


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Reader Comments (2)

Cool post about using google maps. Thanks for sharing!

Jun 14, 2011 at 5:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterGinger Smith

Thanks for reading and the positive feedback Ginger!

Jun 14, 2011 at 7:14 PM | Registered Commenterabbyb

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