Using My Maps at Google Maps I began a new map titled Exploring My Eastern N.C. Roots and have added a few points of interest to show how this tool can be useful for planning a genealogy vacation. To create your own map, youíll need an Google account. If you have one go to maps.google.com. If you donít have a Google account you can learn about creating one on the same page.
Once on the homepage of Google Maps, click on the 'My Maps' tab next to the 'Search Results' tab. Here you can create a new map and give it a title and description. You can also make it public or unlisted. Public maps will be included in the search results on Google Maps (and Google Earth). You can still share links to private maps with family and friends - they just won't appear in search results.
You're now ready to add placemarkers, lines and shapes to your newly created map and give each of these a title and description. The basic description is in normal text, but you can also use the rich text feature to add images and to add bold, italics, and colors to your text. If you're familiar with HTML, you can get even fancier!
To include locations to places you might expect to find in the phone book, such as the Edgecombe County Memorial Library, just search for it. Click on the appropriate link in the search results and a little box and placemarker will appear on the map. Then choose "Save to My Maps" in the box to have the information automatically added to your own Google map. Once it's been added, you can edit it just as with any place marker.
You can, of course, add place markers manually. Just drag it around the map until you have it where you want it. You can also add geographic coordinates for places you're not likely to find through search, such as unmarked family cemeteries. Just do a search for the coordinates such as "35.6718256 -77.6524745" and the marker will appear in the correct location on your map. Then just use "Save to My Maps" and edit the title to reflect what the coordinates mark. I used this option to include the Queen Anne Memorial Cemetery in Fountain, for example.
Online maps can also be used to share your genealogy journeys and finds during and/or after your trip. It's not a genealogy implementation, but you can get some good ideas from this Frugal Traveler: American Road Trip travelogue from The New York Times.