Every day the Internet does wonders for genealogy. The information contained therein, which includes database searches, the ability to contact other researchers, and sources of historical information, help make family history research both faster and easier to do. This article will focus on one aspect of the Internet that I find especially helpful to genealogy•search engines. Through search engines, I have found compiled genealogies extending for many generations that avid genealogists have simply posted online for anyone who is interested. If you are the one who happens to be researching that same line, it will definitely be of interest!
Here are three tips that will help you use search engines:
Tip #1) Pick a few search engines that you feel comfortable with. I generally first search using www.google.com. This site is very fast and produces results in a way that is easy to navigate and use. But, there have been times when I have not found a compiled genealogy on "google" that has been included in a different search engine, such as www.altavista.com. Other search engines are www.lycos.com, www.dogpile.com, www.metacrawler.com and more (try finding them by searching for "search engines" in a search engine you already know about!).
Tip #2) The best way to find a compiled pedigree is to enter an ancestor's name in quotation marks, such as "John Doe." The quotation marks keep the phrase together, so that your search results are more accurate. If the name is common (like John Doe), try entering a birth year or a place to narrow your search. You will need to try several different searches because they may produce different results. Take the small amount of time it takes to do this search. You will save yourself years of trouble by discovering what efforts others have already made in researching your family line. This is also a great way to get in contact with distant cousins. Remember that it is important to later document what others have done with original records.
Tip #3) Many kind people are putting free transcriptions of cemetery, census, vital records and more on the Internet. I often use search engines to find these. It is best to try several different searches and see what comes up. If you don't get many hits, try to broaden your search by using less specifics. I think the best thing is to search with a place name and the type of record you want to find. Sometimes adding "genealogy," "records," or "search" narrows the number of results so the search is more manageable. I try to avoid date ranges in this type of search. There are also many genealogy sites that try to combine available links so they are easier to find. If you would rather use these sites rather than a search engine, try www.cyndislist.com, www.rootsweb.com, or www.genuki.org.uk.
Search engines are great tools for genealogists and I urge you to take advantage of the information they can help you find. The results of this quick but important search have often been amazing and have given me important clues as I research family lines.