You likely already know you can power up your genealogy web searches by clicking the Advanced Search or More Search Options button on sites such as Ancestry.com, MyHeritage.com and Archives.com. And by now, you also probably know to enclose phrases (such as an ancestor’s first plus last name) in quotation marks when searching Google or other search engines. Be sure to try these four strategies, too, for more productive research sessions.
1. Home in on places and dates.
2. Use wildcards creatively.
3. Leave off the name.
Of course, you also know to try nicknames and alternate spellings of names in addition to initials. But it’s easy to overlook some spellings. Check the handy FamilySearch Standard Finder for ideas. (There’s also a Standard Finder that can help with places.)
4. Search sideways.
Don’t forget, by the way, to search for women under both their maiden and married names. If I’d thought to search for Elizabeth using her married name, I could have saved myself some trouble and found her in the same database.
You can also try playing one site off against another. Stumped at FamilySearch.org? Try at findmypast.com and then use the info you gather there back at FamilySearch.org or Google to find clues that can fine-tune your search.