Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Wisdom Wednesday: Ancestor Hunting on Gen Blogs

When Dan Lynch first released his book Google Your Family Tree, which I highly recommend, he made a presentation to my local genealogical society. The minute I got back from his talk, I turned on my computer and put a few of his ideas to work--and quickly found a blog comment written by my long-lost first cousin, who I hadn't seen in decades!

As time went on, I developed a few useful tricks to supplement Dan's suggestions, tips I've shared in my own presentations to local genealogical societies. For example:

  • Search blogs only. To search only blogs and only on genealogy, start at the Google home page. Enter your surname, add the word "AND," then enter the word "genealogy." Next, move your mouse along the menu at the top of the page until you see the drop down menu under the word "more" (as shown in this screen shot). Click on "blogs" and then click to start your search.
  •  Use quotation marks around full names. When searching for a specific ancestor, search for the full name in "First Middle Last" order (typing "Thomas Haskell Wood" in the search box, with quotation marks as shown) as well as in "Last, First Middle" order (typing "Wood, Thomas Haskell" in the search box, with quotation marks). And don't just try "First Middle Wood"--also search possible variations like "First Middle Woods" and "Woods, First Middle." 
  • Browse for surname genealogy blogs. Look at the lists of blogs on Genealogy Blog Finder and GeneaBloggers. You just might find one or more genealogy blogs devoted to the surnames you're researching.
  • Include a search box on your blog. Make it easy for people to find surnames on your blog by including a search box, as I did at top right, just below the blog name/description.
Happy ancestor hunting!


  1. Great tip. Small things like quotation marks and searching in the blog results instead of the whole web can make a big difference I gave it a try and found a new FaceBook page for my family surname I did not know existed. Thanks Marian.

  2. Mark, I really appreciate your reading and commenting. Congrats on finding the FB page for one of your surnames! That's quite a find.

  3. Wow! I never thought of doing that. I know I have alot to learn about that. I think I will order that book!

    Thanks for the tip!

  4. Michelle, Good luck with Googling your family tree. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  5. I borrowed Dan Lynch's book 'Google Your Family Tree' from my local library, and I was so impressed that I bought my own copy. I especially like the fact that you can make notes (on special pages in the book) of the search terms you have tried.

  6. Hi Judy, I agree! Dan's book has been a big help to me in my ancestor hunting. Hope you find more of your ancestors, too! Good luck.