Monday, 11 June 2007

Find it again

They're always telling us to cite our sources so we can find the information again. The same applies to knowing a pinpoint location. Where exactly was that gravestone? Could someone find it easily? Where is the house the ancestors lived in ca 1945? Will people be able to find the spot after the building is demolished?

If you're a techno-genealogist you'll have your GPS at the ready when you visit any such site and record the exact latitude and longitude. That will give position within a few metres for inclusion in your write-up.

Even without a GPS, having visited a location you can likely find it again on a map. Lifehacker had a recent posting about extracting latitude and longitude using Google Maps and a bit of javascript code. It didn't work for me, but one of the comments had a technique that did.

In Google Maps, zoom in to find the location as precisely as possible. Place the cursor on it, right click and select "Center map here". Now click on "Link to this page" just above the map on the right. The address in the browser bar will change. Scroll along it and you'll see embedded something like "ll=45.447065,-75.662241". It's the latitude and longitude in degrees and decimal degrees. If you prefer to record degrees, minutes and seconds use a converter such as the one here.

Unfortunately Google maps won't always take you to the location if you enter the coordinates, let's hope that comes soon.

You can also use Google Earth, but it may be more difficult to find your location. However, you do get the exact latitude and longitude at the cursor location displayed at the bottom left of the screen.

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