What I Have Learned About Google for Genealogists, Part 2

google-translate-exampleGoogle Translate (http://translate.google.com) has helped me many times. I do a lot of research in Sweden and do not speak Swedish, so I have learned to translate information I do not understand. Several years ago, I found a death record of a sibling to one of my husband’s ancestors. The young man was only 18 years old, so I wondered what had happened. The Swedish words are “konstruktion olycka.” It means that he died in a construction accident. He worked in construction and died on the job. What a revelation. This Google feature has speeded up my research.

Have you used Google Maps (https://maps.google.com)? Who knew all the detail found in areas I had only seen on flat maps. You will find as much detail as you need to find specific locations. If you are looking for a city address, you might find that the house you expected to see has been torn down to add a freeway. You’ll discover that when you combine Google Maps with Google Earth (http://earth.google.com). Lisa Louise Cooke has created several YouTube’s to show how to combine them and see what the area looks like now. You can also add old maps such as those found at David Ramsey’s site and overlay what the area looked like when your family lived there and what it looks like today. Be careful. You might get so excited using these features that you don’t get any research done!

Google Drive (https://drive.google.com) allows users 5GB of free document storage and use of Google Docs, which includes word processing and spreadsheets. These are shareable, easy to publish on your blog or website and you can invite others to edit or collaborate the documents. This collaboration allows you and your cousins to share family information and research findings. Have you used these features?

Several years ago I created a book for my mother-in-law’s 90th birthday to show a brief corn-sheller-patent-information-examplehistory of her family since they arrived in America. A friend joined me to help put it in order and fill in some missing details. We discovered that one of her grandfathers, Joseph Duhachek (1849-1906), had a patent in his name. We found it at https://www/google.com/?tbm=pts. Since he had died before she was born, the family didn’t talk about him and never shared his patent information. This brought her such joy.  (If you want to read the whole story, it’s on my blog at http://familyscribe.us/wordpress/joseph-duhachek-patent-for-a-corn-sheller/.

Another feature of Google that offers help for genealogists is Google Alerts (http://www.google.com/alerts). You can sign up to receive daily or weekly email updates for specific searches. Be careful not to request too many or you may become overwhelmed. I don’t use it for common surnames, but I have used it for less common ones. I have also placed delimiters such as dates and/or location to cut down on suggested finds.

You can use Google+ (https://plus.google.com) for its social networking platform, including joining groups or creating “hangouts” with a limited number of participants at one time.

Other features you might check out include Google Calendar (https://www.google.com/calendar) for keeping your calendar entries in one place; Google Play (https://play.google.com) for music, movies, books and apps; and, Google Shopping (http://ww.google.com/shopping) to shop for genealogy products, supplies, software, and other items.

I may have missed some features, but these are the ones I know and use. I hope you find this useful.

Images taken from Google as examples of what I share here.

What I Have Learned About Google for Genealogists

Several of my friends have shared their insights using Google and have agreed that I can use their discoveries to share with you.

Doing a basic web search using Google, can leave potential new information about our Robert Mills search via Google Aug 2016families hidden. Start by entering a search term, a person’s name, or a URL. Some names are so common that you should add other terms to narrow the search. For example, when I put in the name “Robert Mills” (in quotes) I got about 395,000 hits, including the top listing for the man who designed the Washington Monument. However, that’s not who I want to search for. I added an additional term “1867..1932” (year range of his life) and lowered the options to about 59,000 results. Still too many. Next, I added location: Kentucky and the count went up to about 70,000 results. The difference is that the first few entries were a perfect match. I found that Ancestry.com and FindAGrave each had correct information about Robert Mills.

Let’s look at Images, the next most popular method of looking for information  (images.Google, com). When the page appeared, I clicked on “Search Tools” that shows up below the search box. I selected “Black and White” because those are the only photos Robert Mills family photo found via Google Images 21 Aug 2016available for this time period. I used the same terms used above and received the following message: “1867..1932 was dropped from your search because it is not supported for this type of search.”  Because I had a photo in my possession, seeing it in Images was not a surprise. But there were many images that didn’t match and offered confusion rather than a new discovery. I need to better understand how to search images to gain access to what I want.

Google Books (books.Google.com) is an often overlooked resource because they stopped adding books, but they have already added many books that are copyright free. book cover Russell County KY History & FamiliesTo continue using Robert Mills as an example, I need to explain that he was a farmer who lived in Pulaski or Russell Counties in Kentucky. Those delimiters should help narrow the field of appropriate books. I found nothing appropriate using Robert Mills’ name, adding “farmer” and “Russell County Kentucky.” That should not come as a surprise since he had a small farm and did not make a name for himself. To find something useful, I took off his name and found, “Russell County, Kentucky: history & families” that wasn’t a complete search, so I couldn’t look in the index to see if he or his family received any mention. Because there are other possible locations to find the book, I looked at WorldCat and found the book on FamilySearch.org. It has not been digitized, so it looks like a library lend is in my future.

Next week we’ll look at other features available in Google that include: Translate; Maps; Earth; Scholar; Docs; Drive; Blogger; and YouTube.

Try these Google tools and improve your searches.

___ All images taken from Google: I snipped the first one from a basic search; the second image is one I posted and I have a copy of the original; the third is an image from Google Books.