Internet Investigation

Internet Investigation

Genealogy Detective helps direct your online genealogy research but sometimes points in the wrong direction.

Genealogy Detective software was created to help you solve family history mysteries online. It’s an innovative companion to your Web browser that gives you quick and easy access to many of the Internet’s most useful sites for genealogy. The program stays open in one-window while you click on links or perform searches with your Web browser in another window. Tabs take you to links and search forms in the following areas:

• The Genealogy Guide gives general advice for beginning genealogists.

• The Link Database provides hundreds of links in seven broad categories. Topics include how-to guides, maps, libraries, surname guides and genealogy software. Some of these links send you to long-outdated Web sites, though, and other sites don’t live up to Genealogy Detective’s descriptions. If you click on the link to “Minnesota State Library/Archive,” for example, you end up on a page that generally describes Minnesota libraries and has nothing to do with the Minnesota Historical Society.

Many links take you to Genealogy Gateway <www.gengateway.com>, a Web site produced by the same company as Genealogy Detective.

• The Surname Database links you to surname home pages and forums. For example, a search for the name Pennington takes you to the site of the Pennington Research Association. Links often lead to the surname search page of Genealogy Gateway, where you have to do a search from scratch.

• Surname Searches finds matches in either Genealogy Gateway, its Family Query Forum or Family Tree Maker’s Internet Family Finder <www.familytreemaker.com>. As with the Surname Database, selecting the Genealogy Gateway option merely directs you to that site to do a new search.

• Search Tools is probably the most useful part of Genealogy Detective. You fill in a blank to search various databases in these categories: Dictionary, Language, History, Geography, Culture, Biographical, Death Index, Address and World Wide Web. For example, you can search three online dictionaries or translate a word or phrase. You can also search for events that occurred on a specific date. Or just fill in a blank to search an almanac, an atlas, three biographical databases, a telephone directory, the Social Security Death Index or one of six Internet search engines.

At first glance, Genealogy Detective seems like a handy program to guide you to useful Web sites, including some that you might never have thought to visit. Too many outdated links seriously diminish the program’s value, however. Genealogy Detective comes with two years of free updates, including new and repaired links, as well as upgraded search codes. But even the latest version at this writing, 1.02, includes lots of obsolete sites — more than a third of the links I followed were bad. If you’re just looking for links, a site such as Cyndi’s List <www.cyndislist.com> may be a better (and cheaper) bet.

Genealogy Detective requires Windows 95 or higher, a Web browser and Internet access. The program is compatible with AOL and CompuServe, and carries a $24.97 price tag with a money-back guarantee. The package includes a copy of the company’s Gen-Pro family tree software and “Ten Important Facts You Absolutely Must Know When Researching Your Family Tree.” For more information, contact Harris Digital Publishing Group, 1392 S. Woodland Blvd., Del and, FL 32724 or visit <www.genealogydetective.com>.

From the October 2000 issue of Family Tree Magazine

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