Monday, 31 July 2006

Update your searches

Has someone got the key to your genealogical puzzle? Every day people post new results of their research on the internet for you to find. Some of the postings will be on web pages and blogs accessible to a search engine like Google. Do you search for problem ancestors every so often? Perhaps you've tried and got a lot of hits irrelevant to your interest. I just did a search of the name Northwood, and as usual had to battle pages referring to a London suburb, town in New Hampshire and US university amongst many others. You need to be creative with the search terms to reduce unwanted hits. 7,300,000 for a Google search on "Northwood", shrank to 15,000 for " northwood family birmingham -university -street -wight -glass -alamaba -auctions ". One of them was this image of a Northwood family tomb at Wordsley in the Black Country around Wolverhampton. I know the inscriptions from previous searching, but its neat to see the tomb.

A lot of genealogical data is in databases not accessible by search engines like Google. You usually have to go to each database site and search it individually. One of the biggest sites is Rootsweb's Worldconnect which claims 459,857,161 names, 4,372,310 surnames and 400,262 contributed databases. It's a good idea to search it for those elusive ancestors, but set aside some time. When I search for Northwood I have to wade through multiple entries for 14th century family members. Some people seem to make it their hobby to resubmit the same thing. Although you can limit the search in several ways it would be good to also have a way to specify you want no hits earlier than a certain date.

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