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Sometimes I play around with search engines to see which might be best for genealogical purposes. This is not a scientific study, but just some observations. My usual method is to take a name and try it out in the search box, first without quotations (for example, John Smith), then with quotations (“John Smith), and then “John * Smith” to see what the variations turn up. If I get too many hits, sometimes I’ll add in a town or state name as a limiter.

The other day I was trying out some of the more unusual names in my family tree. Poor ubiquitous John Smith was not one of them. I tried out the name Romanus Emerson, which gives me about 90% useful hits in most of the time in Google. Here are some of the strange things that came up….

Bing – the first and third results were from the Hancock, New Hampshire Town Record Book (where he lived before removing to Boston), the second and sixth results were from my own blog, and the 10th was from eBay (a book of cartes de viste from the Civil War era, including a portrait of Romanus Emerson II, but for sale for $9,995- *sigh* I must buy a lottery ticket for that one). Two other results were from Blogcatalog referring me back to my own blog.

5th on the list of results is from Wikipedia “Past Members of the Boston City Council” Interestingly under the City Council of 1843 “Aldermen: Simon Wilkinson; Josiah Stedman; Jonathan Preston. Common Council: Jacob George Lewis Libbey; Daniel Bartlett, Jr; William Henry Learnard; Joshua B. Fowle; Henry Davis; James Whiting; James Harvey Dudley; George Washington Crockett; Willard Nason Fisher; James Fowle; Kimball Gibson; Peleg Whitman Chandler; John Slade, Jr; George Tyler Bigelow; Andrew Townsend Hall; Clement Willis; Isaac Cary; Greenleaf Connor Sanborn; Romanus Emerson.” Three of these men were in my family tree data base: Romanus Emerson (1782 – 1852) is my 4x great grandfather, Simons Wilkinson (abt. 1779 – 1860) is a distant Wilkinson cousin (Wilkinson is my maiden name), and Jacob George Lewis Libbey (1797 – 1846), who married a distant cousin, Elizabeth Simonds. The Fowles of Boston intermarried several times with the Simonds family, so I’m looking into the two Fowle men on this list. This was a very fun find. Thank you Bing.com!

Dogpile- What strange results! The first one was for an Emerson Appliance company, and I don’t understand where the word “Romanus” matched this one. Then three hits for my own blog and one for my FamilyTreeMaker webpage. One for that book of Hancock, NH town records, and then a hit for the pop group “Emerson, Lake and Palmer” (again, how does “Romanus” match that one?). It seems that Dogpile gives advertising products an edge over matching your search words? If anyone can explain this one, please go right ahead!

Google - Since Google gives me a general web result, as well as a book result, image results, news (including archived news) results, etc. their hits were generally more useful and relevant to genealogy. But it’s worthwhile using the other search engines, at least Bing.com, once in a while just to see what comes up. Does anyone have an extra $9,995.00 I can use for that eBay book?

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Copyright 2010 Heather Wilkinson Rojo

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Comment by Shirley J. Vreeland on October 10, 2010 at 4:05pm
Very interesting reading. I am new at this genealogy game. I've done basic searching out family names in my lineage. There's alot of verifying of facts that need to be ferreted out. Thank goodness there is no hurry. Therefore; I am doing the research online......free sites. That's why your blog was valuble to me. Just saying!
Comment by tami osmer glatz on October 1, 2010 at 9:02am
You know actually Yippy.com is even better for genealogy. It will sort your results by type, like marriage, vital records, etc, and by what kind of results so you can easily see if they are .gov, .edu, .org or .com. It used to be Clusty.com, but now is Yippy - goofy name, but great search engine. I have it set up for easy access on my free genealogy websites toolbar, under Resources - Search & Directories. (http://relativelycurious.ourtoolbar.com)
Comment by James P. LaLone on September 27, 2010 at 8:02am
Thanks for your input on this. I was using mainly google, then started to use Dogpile and would get some unusual sites that if they did appear in google it was down the road. Bing has usually produced the same as dogpile and both sites rarely ever give me as many sites as google.

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