Googling Names

By Diane Haddad

You’ve probably Googled your ancestors and either found information or found out how common their names were (or wondered how the heck some page ended up in your search results).

But have you Googled yourself? According to one study, 47 percent of Americans have done what’s called an ego search.

Jim Killeen went so far as to track down and interview seven of the same-named people he found. The resulting documentary, Google Me, premieres April 25 on You Tube. One of the Jims is from the filmmaker’s ancestral home in Ireland—maybe a DNA study is in order?

Another way to find out haw many other people share your name is, which bases its findings on census records. Turns out 13 people in the United States have my name.

Now, a few tips to aid your genealogical Googling and weed out some of those same-named nonrelatives:

  • Search on spelling variations of your ancestor’s name.
  • Experiment with entering the last name first, first name last, with and without the middle name, with nickname, first initial plus last name, etc.
  • Use quotation marks around the name (as in “fred flintstone”) to eliminate pages that show the first and last names far apart.
  • Add a place your ancestor lived to narrow results.
  • Adding the unusual name of your ancestor’s spouse or child also can narrow your results.
  • Are matches on a famous figure with your ancestor’s surname clogging up your results? Use a (minus sign) to eliminate a word associated with the celebrity, for example, “fred flintstone” -bedrock.