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Just Google It!

Google screenshot Google is a great tool for genealogists to use. Not everyone realizes this because Google isn’t specifically a genealogy website. Even so, giving Google a try could lead to interesting and useful results. Here are just a few of the ways that using Google can help with your genealogy research.

Google News Archive Search

Looking for an obituary of an ancestor? Try the Google News Archive Search. Use the search engine on that page and type in a keyword, surname, location, or date. For more specific results, put quotation marks around the location you are searching for. (Example: “Chicago”). Don’t forget to try the newspapers from the surrounding area that your ancestor lived in. There is potential the bigger newspapers may have more for you!

Tips for using the Google Search Engine

Did you know that there are special techniques that you can use to get a more relevant result from a Google search? Try a few of these tips:

* Instead of typing the world Chicago, try Chicago genealogy instead.

* Use a plus sign [+] before words that you want to appear in your search results exactly

* Does your ancestor have a surname that is also a common noun? Try adding the word surname after his or her last name. Instead of Stone, try Stone surname.

* Try more than one spelling for a surname and put the word “or” in between. Example: Smith or Smithe or Smythe.

* Spell out the full name of a state and also include its abbreviation. Add older abbreviations if you know them. Example: FL Fla. Florida

* Add the word genealogy to your search.

Use Google Earth

Google Earth is a tool that genealogists can use to look at places where their ancestors once lived. There is a tutorial that shows you how to travel back in the time line of a location with Historical Imagery in Google Earth.

* Start by clicking View > Historical Imagery

* Use the clock icon in the toolbar above the 3D viewer

* Click on the year that appears in the bottom left of the Status bar.

* Use the slider in the timeline feature to view images of a particular location and to see how it looked in the past.

Google Books

You can use Google Books to locate and read local history books from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The books are now in the public domain and you can view them for free. Use that search engine and type in the name of your ancestor, or the town she lived in. See what it finds for you!

Do a Google Advanced Search

It is not easy to locate the Google Advanced Search because it is no longer posted on the search engine page. The Google Advanced search is a more extensive form of their regular search engine. Fill in the blanks and you can do some very specific searching.

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