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Genealogy: Goggle Specialty Searches

The following article is a sample from Barry J. Ewell's book "Family Treasures: 15 Lessons, Tips, and Tricks for Discovering your Family History." He is the founder of, an online educational website for genealogy and family history. 

Learn to use Google to conduct special searches in Google Image, Google Book, Google Scholar and much more.

Let Google find (and translate) foreign language websites. In the Google search page, change your preferences (under the gear menu in the upper right corner) to include non-English language sites among your results and click save preferences. Then go to the Google Translation Tool web site to download a button for your browser that translates thirty-four languages to English at the touch of a button.

Search Google Books to find text from out-of-print books. Google is digitizing millions of books-many of which are no longer copyright protected and can be searched and read online for free at Use a surname and qualifier in the search box. For example, bennet "king county, Washington" or "anna larsen"

Let Google know your most important search terms. Google often produces results that match some but not all of your search terms. Using a plus sign immediately before your most crucial terms or phrase requires its inclusion in results. For example, a search for +"benjamin rosenbaum" chicago OR "cook county"Illinois makes sure Benjamin is in each search result, even if he's in Toledo rather than Chicago.

Don't let an imprecise location spoil a good search. When using a geographic search term, use all forms of the location, because the person who posted your information may have used abbrevia¬tions. Example: "mary norwood" hollywood, "los angeles co" OR "los angeles county" OR "los angeles"AND ca OR cal OR calif OR California. Remember: if you don't search them all, you don't get all the possible results.

Use Google blog search to meet other researchers. Online blogs can be viewed for free at Use a surname, location limiter, and genealogy synonyms in the search box. Example: Ewell Charlottesville ~genealogy.

Use Google Image search to find photos, postcards, and maps. A Google search of images indexed from websites can find research gold. Online images can be searched at Use a surname, location, or qualifier like postcard in the search box. Example: "albemarle county, virginia" lithograph.

Try a Google Scholar search. Search historical society papers, journal articles, and college theses for ancestors. Scholarly searches are free at Use a name and location in the search box. Example: "ann mullins"golden Colorado.

Try a Google News archives search. Search historical newspa¬pers for ancestors' announcements, ships, companies, crimes, and events. Limited searches of OCR (computer aided transcriptions) are free at Try a name, location, and date restriction in the search box. Example: larsen, atlanta, geor¬gia 1860.. 1890.

Use Google to define antiquated occupations, diseases, or terminology. Google allows Define (define:) to identify the mean¬ings of words and phrases. Example: search define: ague to discover that Uncle Cyrus died of an illness with fever and shaking chills, or define: lapidary to learn that Cyrus worked as a cutter and polisher of stones into gems.

Use Google's residential phonebook to find possible cousins. Use Google's Residential Phonebook (rphonebook) to locate phone numbers, addresses, maps, and even aerial and street-level photos of homes of the people who share your surname in a geographic area. Example: rphonebook: walter, ames, iowa, or rphonebook: morrison 89121.

Use Google's business phonebook to find non-residential contact info. Use Google's Business Phonebook (bphonebook) to locate phone numbers, addresses, maps, and even aerial and street- level photos of businesses that relate to your ancestors in a geo-graphic area. Example: bphonebook: baptist, boise, idaho.

Use Google Maps' address location and driving directions. Enter a complete address (like 3760 n central st miami fl) into www. to get a detailed map (including a high resolution satellite option). Then, in the search terms field, add the phrase "to 3413 nevada ave madison wi" to get detailed driving directions. This type of search is great for locating cemeteries.

Use Google Street View to get snapshots of ancestral homes. As you may know, Google's camera-equipped cars are circling the United States and western Europe, taking continuous 360-degree photos of neighborhoods. Use to locate an address, then click Street View to call up the photo image of the home.

Let Google Alerts search while you sleep. Alerts are a neat service. Google Alerts ( is an automated, online tool that lets you build complex Google searches and run them continuously to look for new additions to the Internet. You are periodically alerted by email of new web info about your favorite sports team or your great-aunt.

Try Google video search to find tutorials, travelogues, and family stories. Use to search for short videos of interest.

Read more great genealogy tips in Barry Ewell's book "Family Treasures: 15 Lessons, Tips, and Tricks for Discovering your Family History.

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