Genealogy Case Study: Researching Common Surnames Online
6/9/2014
Follow along as our online genealogy expert uses smart web searching strategies to research an ancestor with a common name.
Unless you’re searching for unique surnames like Axelquist or Birtwistle, you’re going to get millions of irrelevant hits in your online genealogy searches. Pity the Smith and Jones, as well as the people whose names also are colors (White), geographical formations (Hill), buildings (Church), or weather (Snow). Search for John Snow, and you’ll get every weather report on the internet.
 
Fortunately, using search operators to customize your searches can help you overcome the common surname problem. For this example, I’m trying to discover as much as possible about an ancestor named John Bishop, born about 1823 in Somerset, England. He immigrated to Australia in 1855. I particularly want to know where in Somerset he was born.