Tips on Using Google for Genealogy Research

10 Tips on using Google for Genealogy Research

So you are looking for some tips on using Google for Genealogy Research? Although not designed specifically as a Family History or Genealogy search website, family history research using Google can, if used correctly, be one of the most useful tools in a Family Historian’s arsenal.

I am sure that like myself, most family historians have used Google to look for ancestors at some point in time or another.

However, due to the vast amount of information indexed by Google, finding the relevant and valuable data you seek can be extremely frustrating and hard to find. Just typing a person’s name can results in thousands (if not millions) of results.

When undertaking your google search here are a few tips that should help you filter out some of the plethoras of results you are currently seeing.

1. Use Lower case

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With the exception of the search operators AND and OR, Google is case insensitive, which means it does not matter which case you use. I would recommend using lowercase in all your searches so the search operators AND and OR are not accidentally activated until you want them to be.

2. Use Quotation Marks

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If you wish to search for the text exactly as you have entered it into Google, place quotation marks around them.

3. Use Wildcards

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If you are not sure of a name or term you can include an *, or wildcard, in your search query to tell Google to treat the star as a placeholder for any unknown term(s) and then find the matches that best suit.

4. Use the Minus Sign

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I know when I search for an ancestor I often get results for the LinkedIn profile of people with the same name. I know these people aren’t the person who I am looking for so I can exclude them from the search results by adding -LinkedIn to the search term. This works for any term you would like to exclude.

5. Use a Date Range

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One of the most awesome things about Google is the ability to search a date range. This is hugely helpful if you are looking for birth, marriage or death records or trying to narrow down the results for a particular family member.

6. Get Site Specific Results

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If you would like to only search the information that is available on a specific site then use the site:{site URL} option before the text to be searched for.

7. Search for Terms that are associated with each other

Terms that are Assiociated with Each Other

One of the most frustrating things about searching for ancestors in Google is that, while the engine will search an entire page for your terms, your terms may not have any association with each other. To get around this add AROUND(No of words) to the search query.

8. Use OR to Combine Searches

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If, for example, you are unsure of the exact location your ancestor may have lived in  you can use OR to find results for more than one

9.  Stemming

Google Stemming Search

Returns results, not only based on your keyword, but also on the terms based on the keyword stem.

10. Use Google’s Advanced Search Form

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Google’s Advanced Search

If you feel the above techniques are a little overwhelming do not despair. Google has advanced the search feature which simplifies the majority of the search options above, such as using phrasing your search terms and date ranges.

In Conclusion

This page was created to highlight some of the tricks that can be used to hopefully help you find your ancestors on a more regular basis. If you know of any more tricks with Google please let me know so I can add it to this page.

10 Tips on using Google for Genealogy Research