Monday, June 20, 2011

Genealogy Search- Have You Hit the Proverbial Brick Wall?

Throughout the years of searching for your genealogical roots, I'm sure many of you have come to a brick wall in your searches. I know I have a time or two! How are you conducting your searches? The obvious answer would most likely be Google. I "Google" everything from computer problems to issues I may have with my car! You name it and Google has it; or do they? In recent news articles, genealogists have depended upon Google Archives to base some of their online researches and in the process, gathering information from archived newspapers and the like. Google Archives will no longer be there for us when we need it. Another brick wall indeed!
Google Newspaper Archive Shutdown

Image Source

So you've hit a brick wall; what does that do to your research? Is there another way around this wall? Of course there is. There has to be another route to take! Which way will you go to get around this wall?
Here are a few things we can do as genealogists:

Lack Of Internet Structure- mainly people like yourself conduct online researches from the skills acquired by using their local libraries, archives, and structured websites like Ancestry. Your typical search for topics over a broad network of web sites won't get you very far. So just think about it for a second, the Internet has no basic structure in which to base a really good, thorough search on whatever topic that you may need information for. Genealogy records are historic archives, which are probably hiding among the dust particles of the Internet, waiting for you to dust them off. If no one finds them, they will be there forever collecting even more dust bunnies.
Bring your searches within reach!

Put On Your Search Engine "Thinking Cap"- A search engine doesn't have a brain like we do. It just searches for what we tell it to. You could search for <chair> or the name <Robert> for example, we know <Robert> is the name of a person but the search engine doesn't; it's just searching for that particular tag and then delivers the web pages to you based upon what you typed in the search bar. So you will need to think more on the lines like a search engine does. 

The results weren't exactly specific to what I was originally seeking. Think outside the search engine "box", if you will. Hopefully your future searches will be fruitful and give you the exact results you were looking for. Proximity searches look over the text of billions of web pages for the tags I mentioned earlier. How do you think this affects my research when I am seeking an ancestor? I'll tell you, its not very good. It would be easier to search for an ancestor with a unique name versus "Ann Jones". The results you receive will be much better. So it's much easier to start off searching for the least common names in your family tree, then work from that family of names that were included, such as siblings, or parents. 

What is the best genealogy search engine to use? Here are a few links to try just to see which one yields the best results for you.


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