Genealogy Research & Google: Top 5 Tips for Using Search Engines
You may be surprised what amazing genealogy finds you can discover using just Google alone! Thousands of photos, scanned books, and online genealogical collections are available that aren’t at the usual big websites like MyHeritage, Ancestry, or FamilySearch. A reasonably exhaustive search should include a plunge into Google.
Most people know that you search for an exact phrase by enclosing the search phrase in quotation marks (i.e. “Lafayette Johnson” if you are searching for a person by that name). But there are other search terms you can use to make your searches even more successful as you work to extend your family history. Our team of professional genealogists share their top 5 tips for using search engines for genealogy research:
1) Exclude Words
If you are searching for a man named Lafayette Johnson from Arkansas but many of your search results are for a man by that name in Surrey, England, use the negative sign (-) in front of the word (or search phrase) you wish to exclude in your search results.
Example Searches: “Lafayette Johnson” -England
“Lafayette Johnson” -“Surrey, England”
2) Similar Words and Synonyms
If you are looking for death, burial, or cemetery records for Lafayette Johnson, use a tilde (~) in front of the word or search phrase. The use of the tilde will return results with words similar to the one you used.
Example Search: “Lafayette Johnson” ~burial
3) Site-Specific Searches
If you find that a genealogical site has a dozen links to burials that are posted on that site, rather than clicking each link to search through each list, simply do a site search on Google.
Example Search: “Lafayette Johnson” site:johnsonburials.com
4) Date Ranges
If you are searching for records for Lafayette Johnson between the years 1659 and 1730, just put two (2) periods (and no spaces) in between the two years.
Example Search: “Lafayette Johnson” 1659..1730
If you come across a new vocabulary word, use the “define” command of Google.
Example Search: define:nuncupative
(This word refers to a will that is “announced” [i.e. given orally] rather than written, usually due to the extreme illness or wounding of the testator.)
Give these techniques a try and see what new things you’re able to find!
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Connell O’Donovan is a researcher for Legacy Tree Genealogists, a worldwide genealogy research firm with extensive expertise in breaking through genealogy brick walls. To learn more about Legacy Tree services and its research team, visit https://www.legacytree.com.
Legacy Tree Genealogists is the world’s highest client-rated genealogy research firm. Founded in 2004, the company provides full-service genealogical research for clients worldwide, helping them discover their roots and personal history through records, narratives, and DNA. More information is available at https://www.legacytree.com
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