4 Easy Ways to Improve Your Genealogy Google Searches

By Family Tree Editors

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Many new genealogists begin their research by doing a Google search for their ancestors. After that, they turn to subscription sites like Ancestry and don’t look back. However, there is so much more to Google than a basic search!

No need to click through your software menus—you can perform many common computer functions with a few simple keystrokes, saving time and energy. Refer to our handy list to learn keyboard shortcuts (on Windows and Mac) for everything from searching to saving.

Armed with a few tips and tricks, you can discover more using Google. Improve your Google searches with these pointers, and don’t miss out on all the information this search giant has to offer!

1. Save time with synonym searches.

Save time with synonym searches. Rather than run separate searches on similar keywords, include a tilde (~) before the term you want to find variations of. For example, ~train history also finds pages referencing railroad history and locomotive history.

2. Set a date range.

Want to eliminate matches on modern people with your ancestor’s name? Use a “numrange” to narrow your search to a particular time period: Type Jehu Burkhart 1790…1830 to nab results that include that ancestor’s name plus any year between 1790 and 1830.

3. Fill in the blanks.

Don’t want to remember these special search operators? Try the Advanced Search form for a guided approach to setting your search parameters.

4. Hunt for histories.

Google is busily digitizing and cataloging books with expired copyrights—including county histories. Look for them using the Google Books search.

A version of this article appeared in the September 2010 issue of Family Tree Magazine.

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