Google is a wonderful tool to use when you are doing your LDS family search; however, there are some filters you can set that will make your research experience much easier. As a genealogist, you will be happy to find results easier and quicker with this technology. Although there are several Internet search engines out there, Google offers more services to genealogists than another search engine on the web today. Yes Google is free, but it’s the quick and easy access to information that will help us unravel our family histories that keep us coming back for more.
The Three W’s
You may be surprised to discover that www doesn’t only stand for world wide web, but it also stands for the three basic genealogy questions, who, where, and when. Each time you type www before you visit your favourite web site, such as Google, archives, or ancestry that you remember the reasons that you are going to these web sites. First you want to find information about a particular person by name this is “the who” element. Then the place of birth, the places your ancestor lived, and the place that he or she was buried, thus the answers to the where. The final pieces of information you are looking for are the dates of birth, marriage, death, and any other events to answer the question when. When you use Google to search for information about your ancestors, the keywords you use are often the answers to the question, who, where, and wen. Many times these questions are answered in that particular order.
Although you may not be aware of it, you may already have the most important components of your LDS family search at your fingertips. It is important to note that some keywords may come up with results in the millions, while a search term that is too narrow may give you no results at all. The more common the surname, the more likely you are to add some keywords in context with the name, such as a specific location, or dates of birth and death to narrow down your search. There are other ways you can filter out results or ad some results into your research. For example, put the first and last name of your ancestor in quotations, to perform an exact phrase match, then you can add the keyword genealogy with the ~ symbol in front of it so that Google also finds sites with the word genealogy and other such keywords in them. You can also place a minus sign before the state or location you wish to exclude from your search to further narrow down your search.
Now that you have some ideas for your search terms that you will be using on Google to help you with your LDS family search, we will discuss another challenge that people often face while doing genealogical research. This challenge is spelling variations of a person’s name. Although your family’s surname may have been spelled in several ways, the name could have been changed altogether for a variety of reasons. In the case of different spelling variations, use the word OR in capital letters between one or more keywords so that Google will search for either one or the other of your search terms. You can use this operator for locations where your ancestors may have lived, but you must put the word OR in caps or Google will think it’s an ordinary word and ignore this filter.
Google also has over 25 billion pages of indexed treasures hidden among its search results pages. Many of these pages may have been indexed online, and the documents transcribed by mistake, but as a family historian, these finds can give you a world of information for your LDS family search. By using your keywords, putting certain keywords in quotations, using the OR operator, your ~ and minus signs in the order I suggested above, you will be able to narrow your results down to a list that is not only manageable, but ones from which you can find the most relevant information for your LDS family search. While viewing your results, you can get more details about the results by clicking the result details button, or pressing enter on it to find out if the result is worth further inspection.