©2018 by Donald R. Snow

This page was last updated 2018-02-05.  Return to the  Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group Home Page  or  Don Snow's Class Listings Page .
ABSTRACT: On the Internet are thousands of good maps, most of which can be found by Google searches and many are very helpful for family history.  Besides finding online maps, Google has many built in and ways to make your own.  These Google items are Google Maps and Google's My Maps. 
Google My Maps has tools for forming and editing your own maps.  Examples of maps you could make are all the places you or an ancestor ever lived, the neighborhood where you grew up, migrations of you or an ancestors, a trip you are planning to take, where an organization's members live, or where important locations are in a large city.  Making maps with Google My Maps is free and they can be made public or private.  This class will discuss these Google map features.  The notes for this class and related articles, all with active Internet links, are posted on my website .


  1. Instructor is Donald R. Snow ( ) of Provo and St. George, Utah. 
  2. These notes are posted on my website  along with other related class notes and articles, all with active Internet links.
  3. Tips:  (1)  To put an icon on your desktop for the URL for these notes, or any webpage, just drag the icon in front of the address in your browser to your desktop.  (2)  To open a link while keeping your place in the original page, hold down the Control key while clicking the link, so it opens in a new tab. 
  4. The problem for today:  What are Google Maps and Google My Maps and how do you make and edit Google maps?

  6. To find maps online that you might be interested in for family history or other uses you can do Google searches; also see my class notes about online maps on my website.
  7. Google Maps and Google My Maps are two items in Google itself; Maps is where you find maps and directions you need; My Maps is where you make and edit your own maps
  8. Ways to get to Google Maps: (1) Go to ;  (2) Go to ;  (3) Go to Google > "Tic-Tac-Toe board" (upper right corner) > More > Maps
  9. Way to get to Google My Maps:  or from Google Maps > Menu > Your Places > Create a Map
  10. To make icons for either one drag the icon in front of the address to your Bookmarks bar and/or to your desktop
  11. The Maps menus (3 bars in upper left corner) are different menus for Maps and My Maps
  12. Google Maps Menu has many items including Satellite, Traffic, Terrain, Your Places, Your Contributions, Your Timeline, Take a Tour, and Tips and Tricks
    1. Take a Tour is a tutorial about using Google Maps; there is also lots of helpful information in Tips and Tricks
    2. Satellite view shows aerial photographs of same areas you have showing; Terrain shows the main geographical features in that area
    3. Your Timeline shows maps of where you traveled every day, if you turned on the app on your smartphone so the GPS could keep track of where you were  
    4. Your Places has subheadings:  Labeled, Saved, Visited, and Maps
      1. Labeled -- shows places you have entered into the system, e.g. your home, your children's or ancestors' homes, important family history locations for you, places you plan to go, libraries, etc.
      2. Saved -- shows locations you have entered and described
      3. Visited -- show a list of places you actually visited physically day-by-day, if you had the app on your smartphone turned on
      4. Maps -- shows maps you have produced and saved, whether public or private
  13. Google My Maps has headings:  Create A New Map, All, Owned, Not Owned, Shared, Recent, and Explore
    1. All -- shows all the maps you have made, both private and public
    2. Owned -- shows only those you have made that are private and not available to anyone else
    3. Not Owned -- shows all the maps you have made and allowed to be public
    4. Shared -- shows the maps you have shared (made public) with one or more people
    5. Recent -- shows maps you have worked on or looked at recently
    6. Explore -- shows a few prominent public maps, e.g. US Civil War Map, New York City Attractions, California Wild Fires from June 2016 through Dec 2016
    7. Google My Maps menu (3 bars in upper left) has items:  Create A New Map, Download Android App, Help, Feedback, and Drive
      1. The Android app is a program for your smartphone or tablet that relates to the one on your computer and allows you to send maps to your mobile device
      2. Help here has good info on creating your own map
      3. Drive is about storing your maps and other items on Google Drive


  14. To find maps online that you are interested in do Google searches, e.g. "England map" (without the quotes " ") -- there are hundreds of these all over the Internet 
  15. To find Google maps do searches for things like "mormon migration 'google my maps'" or "voyage of the titanic 'google my maps'" (include the quotes around "google my maps")
  16. Also, as mentioned above, the Explore option in Google My Maps has several prominent maps that were created and made public

  18. Go to Google My Maps > Create A Map or to Google Maps > Main Menu > Your Places > Maps > Create Map (bottom of menu)
  19. Map menu > Help > All Articles -- has several good tutorial articles about making Google maps
  20. You must be in My Maps to create or edit a map; if you started in Google Maps, go to Your Places and click on the option to open it in My Maps
  21. While making a map, to avoid losing everything by inadvertently doing something wrong, copy it periodically by clicking on the vertical dots (upper right in menu panel) and make copies; I usually put the date and/or time in front of the title of the copy so I know which version the copy is; for some deleted maps you can find them in , but not always
  22. Layers -- maps you make can have different layers for different kinds of items, but you can also just put everything in one layer; layers can be turned on or off together so everything in that layer shows or doesn't show; may be easiest to start with everything in one layer and later form other layers to move items to by drag-and-drop; examples of layers could be all locations where you lived, locations of schools you attended, locations of where you worked, locations of things important in your life such as churches, parks, playgrounds, etc.
  23. Several ways to add locations:  (1) by just clicking on the "tear drop" in the editing panel at top of the pop-up panel and moving it to where you want it;  (2) by doing a search for the name or address of the place; (3) by uploading a file such as a spreadsheet with the data
  24. Click Add To Map to save the point -- can edit name and description later and also move the point, if needed
  25. To edit a location point click the Edit (pencil) in the pop-up window; when done editing click Save to save it with the changes
  26. Data for every point in a layer is saved in a Data Table for that layer; to get to a layer's Data Table click on the 3 dots by the layer title, then Data Table; can edit data for any point in that layer right there; easy to make them more uniform there where you see the titles and descriptions together 
  27. Can add lines joining locations to indicate travel -- click on the little "Y" lines icon on the pop-up window; can click anywhere on the line and move that part of it to follow streets, etc.; and can check distances along these lines; can also find the area enclosed by a closed line
  28. Can add pictures or videos to any location point by clicking on the camera icon on the pop-up window for the point
  29. To rearrange the order of locations in a layer just drag-and-drop them in the order you want
  30. If desired, add new layers and drag points from old layers to the new ones
  31. Click Preview (at top) to see how the finished map will look; on both editing and on preview you can turn on or off the various layers by checking or unchecking that layer 
  32. The default is private for Google My Maps; to make it public click Share and follow the directions

  34. Many helpful YouTube videos -- Search YouTube for "using google maps" (no quotes)
  35. 8-minute video on Google Maps --
  36. 9-minutes video on Google Maps --
  37. 15-minute video on Google My Maps --
  38. UGA Virtual Chapter meeting, Oct 2017 by Francie Kennedy -- good discussion of how to make a Google map - posted on the Utah Genealogical Association website, but must be UGA member to view it
  39. Helpful article in Internet Genealogy magazine, Feb-Mar 2017 by Lis Alzo

  41. Maps about yourself or an ancestor -- where lived, worked, traveled, mission
  42. Migration map of your ancestors of where they were born, traveled, moved, and died
  43. Planning a family history research or any other trip -- include all the places you plan to go, addresses and information about the archives and libraries, phone numbers, costs; plane or bus stations, etc. -- can find photos online and/or add you own as you travel; can record what you found there and details and share the trip, so relatives or friends can experience your trip virtually
  44. Can make a map of where all members of an organization live; easy to upload the data from a spreadsheet and let Google place the icons and write the pop-ups

  46. To start a Google map just use one layer and experiment with the tools and adding points and add other layers and move poitts to them later.
  47. There are lots of good Google maps already made and posted and making one for yourself is not hard and has lots of uses.