It’s likely that we’ve all turned to Google at some point in our genealogical research. After all, simply typing in our search topic, hitting “Enter,” and hoping for the best is one of easiest ways to be led to heaps of helpful (and sometimes not-so-helpful) sources. But there’s a better way to use Google for family history research says Lisa Louise Cooke, host of The Genealogy Gems Podcast.
“I’ve discovered that there actually is a methodology to using Google for genealogy,” said Cooke in her presentation at RootsTech 2016. “There really is a science to it.”
While there are many ways you can use Google to aid your research, here are three of the most beneficial:
1. Formulate Specific Queries
The first and most important step to using Google successfully is identifying what you want to find. That may sound simple, says Cooke, but many people will simply pull up Google and search “Johnson.” Instantly, the searcher will be overwhelmed with results that likely aren’t relevant due to the commonality of the name “Johnson.”
“We’ve been a little too global in what we’re requesting,” says Cooke. “So don’t throw your genealogy brain out the window just because it’s going to Google.com. Structure a question about what you want in really specific terms. Are you looking for a particular record collection? Are you looking for a particular ancestor in a family? Are you just trying to figure out how to upload your family tree?”
Cooke says it’s a good idea to formulate your question to Google just as you would to a reference librarian.
“How would I describe it to a reference librarian? Ask yourself that. That will help you in doing this.”
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