Using Google for genealogy searches

Searching with Google is a great way to locate information about ancestors. However, when using Google to perform genealogy lookups it is good to remember that Google can support complicated searches.

Suppose you were looking for marriage information on George Smith and Elizabeth Doe in North Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky or Tennessee; then you might use a Google Search like:

    (“george smith” OR “george * smith” OR “smith, george”) AND (“elizabeth doe” OR “elizabeth * doe” OR “doe, elizabeth”) AND (“marriage” OR “marry” OR “bond” OR “will”) AND (“virginia” OR “va.” OR “va” OR “north carolina” OR “n.c.” OR “nc” OR “kentucky” OR “ky.” OR “ky” OR “tennessee” OR “tn.” OR “tn” )

Notice the use of “*” for wild card searching in “george * smith”. This allows Google to return items like George W. Smith or George Henry Smith.

Assuming that you did not find what you were looking for, then you would probably want to search again substituting “betsy”,”liz” and “lizzie” for “elizabeth”.

However, be sure that you also search for Soundex surname equivalents. The Soundex system has been used as one of the methods to index names in the US Census. Soundex can also help you identify spelling variations for a given surname.

The Smith surname calculates to a Soundex code of S530. This is the same code as several other sunames:

    SAINT | SAND | SANDY | SANTEE | SANTI | SCHMID | SCHMIDT | SCHMIT | SCHMITT | SHAND | SHUMATE | SINNOTT | SMITH | SMITHEY | SMOOT | SMOOTHY | SMYTH | SMYTHE | SNAITH | SNEAD | SNEATH | SNEED | SNODDY | SOUNDY | SUNDAY |

It would be good to search for “george smyth” and several other variations as well as “george smith”. However, I’m not too sure I would look for “george sunday”. I would end up with a lot of information about “Thermoman”. ;-) Although, some people do tell me I’m from another planet. “Hmmm”, well on 2nd thought, maybe I should be searching the archives of Ultron. I wonder when Ancestry.com will load that database? :P

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