Google knows a lot about your ancestors if you know how to search for it. These 5 tips will help you get the most out of your Google genealogy research.
A word of caution, though – take care when you find other people’s family trees. It’s best to avoid copying information from other people’s genealogy unless they cite reliable sources. Otherwise, you have no way of verifying that the information is correct.
Here are 5 ways to use Google to jumpstart your genealogy research.
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With Google Books, you can read old, out-of-print books online for free. You may find books about the history of a certain region, city or county. These books could reference your ancestors and provide more information about them.
In addition, you might find books chronicling the genealogy of some branch of your family tree. I don’t consider this information 100 percent reliable since we can’t tell where it came from. However, it offers great reference points for conducting further research.
When conducting a regular Google search, you can put a minus sign before a word to eliminate it from your search results. For example, if you’re looking for a gentleman named Robert Page, and you don’t want anyone included whose middle name is George, you can search Robert Page -George.
Placing quotes around a search term in Google creates a search for a particular phrase. For example, if you search for Robert Page, you’ll come up with lots of hits that reference both of the words Robert and Page.
However, searching for “Robert Page” (with quotes) looks for pages that have the two words “Robert Page” together.
With Google Alerts, you can receive an email anytime Google finds something new on a particular topic. I find this handy for collecting obituaries for people who might be related to me, based on their last name. Obituaries can contain names and places helpful to genealogy research.
You can create several Google Alerts, based on whatever last names you’d like to track. For example, if you have the names Lane, Brewer, and Fox in your history, you could ask for Lane Obituary, Brewer Obituary, and Fox Obituary Google Alerts.
If you want to know anytime Google finds an article about a family reunion for people with a certain last name, you can create an alert with that last name and the word “reunion” in the criteria.
Google Image Search
If you have a bunch of old photos with no labels, Google Image Search can help. You can upload a photo of some unknown person, and it’ll try to match it to other photos to determine who that person is.
This post was originally written in June 2017 and updated in April 2018.