Using Google Earth Pro to Enhance and Share Your Research

Instructor: Marie Palmer
Dates offered: Tuesdays, April 9th, 16th, 23rd, and 30th
Time: 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm PT, 4:00 to 7:00 pm ET
Cost: $300
Registration: 19 January – 25 January 2024

This course is designed for genealogists looking to share their hard-won research through an interactive and feature-rich platform. Google Earth Pro goes beyond Google Earth with advanced features that complement and enhance genealogy in three ways: 

  • Organizing research within Google Earth Pro allows us to view findings through a unique lens, prompting new research questions and further avenues for research
  • It offers a fresh new way to share research and its interactive nature appeals to many, particularly the younger generation. Users can take control of how they experience and absorb our research, ultimately gaining a similar sense of discovery that we experience when uncovering new information.
  • It’s fun!

Students will learn a variety of techniques, including but not limited to: 

  • Adding photographs, records, location markers, book excerpts, videos, historical maps, migration paths.
  • Adding time-coded maps to see how county lines shifted through time. 
  • Plotting and outlining ancestors’ land using data from sources such as the General Land Office or Griffith’s Valuation
  • Marking WWII bomb locations relative to ancestors’ homes
  • Layering old maps on top of modern-day imagery (georeferencing) and using Street View to view modern settings. 

Google Earth Pro is not available on smart phones or tablets and must be downloaded to Windows,  Macs, or Linux computers. To maximize the experience, it’s helpful to know some basic HTML, which will be covered in this course. 

Skill-based Prerequisites for Attendees:

  • Students should be comfortable using a desktop computer (Windows, Mac, or Linux) and downloading programs to it.
  • Students should be comfortable using FamilySearch and other genealogy websites to locate records.

Pre-class Assignment:

  • Download the latest version of Google Earth Pro to your desktop (see For system requirements, please see  
  • If you already have Google Earth Pro installed on your computer, ensure it is the latest version (7.3 as of October 2023). Please update your copy if you don’t have the latest version.
  • Email me to let me know of any questions you may have about installing Google Earth Pro. Please also give me an idea of your experience with Google Earth Pro (if any), geographic areas and time periods of interest, and what you hope to achieve through this course.

Course Outline
(subject to change)

Session 1:

• Introductions 
• Overview of Google Earth Pro 
• Case Study: The Page family in Liverpool over 100 years 
• Demonstration: How to use basic features of Google Earth Pro 
• Q&A and in-class exercise 
• Demonstration: David Rumsey Historical Map Collection 
• Introduction to homework

Session 2:

• Homework review 
• Presentation: Finding maps and other types of information useful for a Google Earth Pro project 
• Presentation: KML and KMZ files: what they are and how to import them
• Q&A and in-class exercise 
• Presentation: Georeferenced historical maps – what they are and how to georeference any map 
• Q&A and in-class exercise 
• Introduction to homework

Session 3:

• Homework review 
• Case study: Maggie’s Famine Walk (plotting paths, marking distances, viewing elevation gain)
• Q&A and in-class exercise 
• Demonstration: Plotting properties from GLO land patents with in-class exercise
• Q&A and in-class exercise 
• Presentation: Newberry’s time-coded county line maps 
• Introduction to homework

Session 4:

• Homework review 
• Case study: Griffith’s Valuation maps  
• Presentation: Improving the appearance and accessibility of your project
• Q&A and in-class exercise 
• Case study: Digital Harrisburg Interactive Map 
• Presentation: Packaging and sharing your work and more advanced topics
• Discussion on further resources and support

Session 5: Optional

  • An opportunity for students to present their work and gain feedback from instructor and  classmates.