Use Google to Find Your Ancestors
Chances are, you’re already familiar with Google’s search engine for your everyday needs. But if you’re not using Google to find your ancestors, you’re missing out on a powerful tool for finding your family history. In our online course, Google for Genealogy, we share five lessons on using Google’s tools to not only gather data but organizing, preserving, and even sharing it. Take a look at these tips below and register for the 4-week course to learn even more.
Simple Search Tools
Using search operators, you can narrow down or broaden your search parameters to target your results. After all, searching for a last name might not turn up much, but using a surname in conjunction with Boolean operators such as AND, OR, and NOT, with a date and a place, you can pinpoint a specific location and time frame to find your ancestors.
For example, I searched for my grandfather’s favorite uncle, a well-known Kentucky lawyer with this search: Daniel Davies AND Lawyer AND Newport Or Cincinnati NOT Davis. The first six results all pertain to my great-granduncle Dan, the man I’m searching for, and his career as an attorney — much better results than if I simply search for his name.
Old News is Good News
Newspapers are one of the top resources for genealogists, and the Google News Archive tops the list of free sources. It’s a great place to begin before you whip out your credit card for one of the subscription sites. You can search the archive using a specific query or explore by publication. Each has the dates of available newspapers beneath it. Once you choose a publication, you can sort by a variety of date ranges.
Be On the Alert to Find Your Ancestors
Once you’ve done a focused search on a topic you can set up an alert for it. Google Alerts are emails that are automatically sent to you when there are new results for your search terms. You can set up as many alerts as you like, so it makes sense to set up an alert for each name you’re researching in a specific area.
Drive Your Success
You can create documents, spreadsheets, presentations, forms, drawings, maps and even websites using Google Drive, as well as upload just about any kind of file, including photos and videos. With 15GB of free storage, it’s a great option for preserving and organizing your research. Upload your folders and files by dragging them from your desktop and set up research logs that you can access anywhere you can log into your account.
When you create a new document or spreadsheet you have the option of selecting from templates that you can adapt to your needs. While there are no family history templates that are standard, searching online will turn up some options for creating templates such as pedigree charts and timelines. You can also purchase our templates package.