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How to Google someone

Most people are Internet savvy these days, however for those of you still learning, there is a great little trick for finding out if a person’s name appears anywhere on the Internet. It is frightening how much information about all of us is actually out there and available to everyone on the World Wide Web.

A ‘Google’ search on your name can bring out anything from your email address to a planning application for an extension to your kitchen.

As with anything, a little knowledge can be useful or dangerous. From thwarted lovers seeking information on an ‘ex partner’ to employers looking for reasons to sack employees, ‘Googling someone’ has gained itself bad press.

In the world of genealogy of course, it is nothing but good news. Is anyone searching for the same relative as you? Does your ancestor appear in any other database open to the public domain? Has someone put an advert in the missing person’s column of a newspaper trying to trace long lost family members? In our world this is a powerful and useful tool.

So for those of you still learning how to use search engines, here is how you ‘Google’ a name.

Everything (word / statement / number / song lyric etc) that simply MUST appear on the results page in the exact order as you typed it - must fall within two inverted commas. Any extra information that would most likely appear in the results page, but not necessarily in an order you could predict - must fall outside the inverted commas.

Sometimes ‘less is more’. If you put too much information either on the outside or the inside of the inverted commas, you risk making the search too specific or you get no results back. If you put in too little information, you cast your net too wide and the search engines will bring up lots of wrong results because they happened to recognise a few words you searched on.

As an example; let us say I want to find my ancestor Ralph Mort who was born 1573 in Eccles: I could start by typing "Ralph Mort" 1573 Eccles. I keep only the name inside the inverted commas as I am not sure his date or place of birth has been recorded anywhere.

Your search - "Ralph Mort" 1573 Eccles - did not match any documents.

- Make sure all words are spelled correctly.
- Try different keywords.
- Try more general keywords.
- Try fewer keywords.

Okay, so if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. I will now omit the word ‘Eccles’ as this is probably just a bit too specific.

I type in "Ralph Mort" 1573 and here is my result:

Database Statistics
Total Headstones, 0. Total Sources, 6. Average Lifespan1, 50 years, 321 days.
Earliest Birth (Ralph MORT), 1573. Date of Last GEDCOM Import, 04 Oct 2005 ...
www.mortfamily.net/genealogy/browsetrees.php - 13k - Cached - Similar pages

Great - Ralph is on the database of our very in Mortfamily.net. The search results did not include the word ‘Eccles’ which is why I got a ‘miss’ when I added it to the search text.

So the general rule for genealogy, is name in inverted comma’s, with date of birth and maybe place of birth or additional information on the outside. Here is another search on an ancestor of mine that brought up more results by also adding the place of birth. It is a technique you do need to experiment with, but it is such a useful little trick.

Search on "Mary Battersby" 1774 Leigh

Lancashire OnLine Parish Clerk Project
18 Oct 1762, John Boothman & Mary Battersby, spinster, ... 1774. 1775. 24 Apr 1775,
James Mackmelan & Mary Hargreaves, both of this chapelry ...
www.lan-opc.org.uk/Downham/ stpeter/marriages_1606-1837.html - 258k - Cached - Similar pages

Lancashire OnLine Parish Clerk Project
Mary Battersby - Daughter of James Battersby Abode: Atherton ... Baptism: 1 Jan
1774 Atherton Chapel, Atherton Chapelry in the Parish of Leigh, Lancashire, ...
www.lan-opc.org.uk/Atherton/ stjohn/baptisms_1724-1777.html - 513k - Cached - Similar pages
[ More results from www.lan-opc.org.uk ]

1771 Oct 10 Thos: Toulmin wit.m. of William Threlfall & Mary Battersby 3 ...
1774 Feb 20 Robert Son of Simon & Elizabeth Toulmin of K.Lonsdale, 1b ...
www.toulmin.family.btinternet.co.uk/ GeorgesWebPage/AppB.htm - 540k - Cached - Similar pages

Pedigree for Mary Horridge
B:, 1774. M:, 11 Nov 1794. Leigh, Lancashire. D:. Family: [Group Sheet]. 1,
Mary Battersby. Children. , Mary Mort. , Alice Mort. , Betty Mort ...
www.watson-trant.com/genealogy/pedigree.php?personID=I286& tree=watsontrant&PHPSESSID=f7bd40c70e60... - 71k - Supplemental Result - Cached - Similar pages

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