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Your Past Homes Can Live On

If you work at family history research long enough you soon realize that there’s a lot more to it than just recording the plain facts of names, births, marriages and deaths. At some point we need to become more informed about the times in which these people lived — what their lives were really like — and one of the biggest things influencing our ancestors’ lives were the places in which they lived. So many of life’s events took place within the walls of the family home — good and bad — and we want to know not only where they resided, but what did the place look like then? What does it look like now? Does it even still exist? Understanding and cataloging our ancestral homes is critical since every day new development destroys the old to put up the new.

Now there are a few places on the Web where you can preserve and share the memories of these homes as they were. Three I’ve become aware of recently are History of Homes, That’s My Old House and Archiplanet.

History of Homes

http://www.historyofhomes.net/
Despite a rather dry sounding name, this one is actually my favorite of the group — very slick, yet approachable and seemingly (I haven’t signed up yet) easy to use. You can catalog the details and images of the places your ancestors lived and connect to a network of others doing the same thing. It’s like social networking with drywall and doorknobs. It’s like FindaGrave.com, only for houses!

That’s My Old House

http://thatsmyoldhouse.com/
This site sports a more interesting moniker, has lots to read about, and the ability to submit stories about your own ancestral homes. However, to some extent this works against the site with the home page feeling a bit jumbled. I was overwhelmed with everything going on there.

Archiplanet

http://www.archiplanet.org/wiki/Main_Page
If you’ve ever used Wikipedia, this one will be familiar to you, in fact it runs on the same software. You can search and view thousands of buildings and architecture firms around the world, so as a resource for learning about the history of architecture this site could be a great help. Maybe not so much for the humble abode of your forebear, though.

This is far from an exhaustive list and all three sites have their merits. For my money though (actually all three are free), History of Homes edges out the others for its community building tools that don’t rely on submitting information for someone else to post on your behalf. The gratification is instant and the site’s technology fades into the background letting you easily connect and share with others. To me that’s what the social media revolution is all about.

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