Genealogy Wise

The Genealogy & Family History Social Network

Is Google the best option for genealogists and family historians?

On this page, as I write, there is an advertisement for the book, 'Google your family tree'. (Actually the link does not work...)  

"Google is the most powerful tool available worldwide for online research!" says the blurb. It continues, "With over 20 billion pages in Google's index of the Web, it's likely that some of them contain clues about your ancestors. Finding these pages, however, requires an understanding of filtering and other techniques that have never been explained to many computer users — until now! This book shows you how to tap the full potential of the Internet's most powerful free online service!"

Many of us do use Google as our first port of call, but is it the best option for us? And what are the alternatives?

It depends, I think, on what we are looking for.  For genealogists, people, places, dates, events, and data types will be among the most useful elements when structuring a query.  One would have thought that the Google directory would be a useful place to look, but is sadly disappointing. Places such as Cyndi's List are far superior.

Without a doubt, Google Books provides an invaluable tool which I have not seen replicated elsewhere.  Google Maps is not so great for finding small locations, and Google images is certainly matched by other search engines.  But that is my opinion!

Does anyone have other preferred options?  My vote goes to for people searches.

William Douglas

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After 5 decades of research and the publication of six volumes and articles relating to research, I feel qualified to suggest that genealogy, like politics, is about "WHERE":. With very few exceptions, thoughout all the history of man, whatever records have been left are by far the very most are now to be found in the county, city, or other political subdivisions where we have lived. To a much lesser degree we have left behind us records at the State level and within the Federal/National systems.

So it is that, very likely, our first efforts to research any of our newly discovered persons or families is with a name and a "where" that person or family resided. Following close on the heels of that suggestion, will be the vast sources to be found at the local level, next, in the censuses - State and County - followed by LDS, then applicable archives. .

Good and helpful as those may be, it is fair to say that not more than 4 or 5% of the total records left by the Romance languages-speaking people now appear on the websites - free or "pay for". If you have the luxury of subscribing to many pay-for sites, by all means do so; most folks do not have such resources.

It is my feeling that by using the vast resources of Google, we can more quickly learn WHAT resources have been published/written having to do with "local records", Genealogy is about "WHERE" first.
Well I love Google for Genealogy. I use Google Books, Google News Archive and Google Scholar regularly. Google Maps is great, especially for making your own maps that can show everything from migration trails to where you find family documents. I also use Google's Language Tools to translate websites and correspondence.

Google Docs is a great free resource for collaborating with other researchers or family on a genealogy project. The best part is that it's saved on the internet so if your computer crashes, you don't lose your documents.

I also use Blogger, a service of Google's, to blog. Google offers so much to the genealogist. Way more than just the search engine. But when you use the search engine it's important to use tools like quotes around a phrase for an exact phrase search or even using the Advanced Search option.

Thanks for pointing out that the Google Your Family Tree ad is broken. I am working on getting that fixed now. The ad should take you to .

Gena Philibert Ortega, Community Manager
Google is really powerful tool to study genealogy and family history. Really it is useful to make family tree by genealogy family tree template which is a valuble heritage of family to present it as a gift at birthdays, marriages and anniversaries of many siblings. It provides too much information and sites to collect info.



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