User-suggested Enhancements to AncestorSearch: Google Custom Search

With the popularity of my AncestorSearch using Google Custom Search tool (as of July 2019, over 115,000 hits and climbing), I was overdue in making some enhancements suggested by users of the tool. If you haven’t used it lately, as a reminder, AncestorSearch “builds a better, genealogy-specific Google search using terms you fill into blanks,” to quote Family Tree Magazine.  (Thank you once again Family Tree Magazine for the great honor of listing AncestorSearch and my Historical Maps tools in your ranking of the Top 101 Best Websites for Genealogy in 2016!) The two key enhancements are highlighted in the … Read more

A couple of enhancements to the Historical U.S. County Boundary Maps tool — and a thank you!

I’ve recently made a couple of enhancements to the Historical U.S. County Boundary Maps tool that make it easier to read and see the results of the search (see screenshot below). Thank you, The Family Nexus, for your article that had very nice things to say about the tool, and also made me aware that the text was a tad small. Another enhancement is the addition of a little “maximize” button above the “Go!” button that expands the map window for much easier viewing (see the little square in the top right of the above screenshot). Finally, one last enhancement is … Read more

Take me to the tools

Looking at search statistics on my websites, it seems the vast majority of people who visit this site are looking for a few tools I’ve created.  So this post is simply to make it easy to find those tools, starting with the most popular: AncestorSearch using Google Custom Search Searches using the full power of Google, and automatically applies advanced Google search techniques so you’re much more likely to find mentions of ancestors that are otherwise buried in thousands of Google search results.  Great for genealogy and also searching for living people.  Linked to by over 100 professional and amateur genealogy sites, … Read more

AncestorSearch and the Historical Google Maps tools are back in action!

Sorry for the site outage the last 24 hours or so. A blogger.com configuration change triggered it, but all is back in working order now: AncestorSearch using Google Custom Search: searches using the full power of Google, and then filters exceptionally well so you’re more likely to find mentions of ancestors you otherwise might miss buried in thousands of Google search results.  Many people are surprised at what AncestorSearch finds, even for ancestors that they had searched for exhaustively over the years. Historical U.S. County Boundary Maps interactive tool: find the correct U.S. jurisdictions for the place and historical timeframe … Read more

Genealogy falling, Ancestry rising

About 7 months ago, genealogy blogger James Tanner wrote about Google search trends showing a possible decline in the popularity of genealogy. Viewing the comments, some people speculated that perhaps people were getting better at doing Google searches by searching directly for people and places in their family history rather than just typing the word “genealogy” into Google. I speculate that is likely true; I also suspect people are using more specialized searches on sites such as Ancestry.com rather than just using Google.* However, another idea occurred to me today, and that is that perhaps the word genealogy itself is … Read more

Undocumented tricks for surfacing buried ancestors using the AncestorSearch Google Custom Search tool

OK, maybe you won’t surface any actual ancestors with these tricks, but you very well may surface a number of buried web pages about them!  By using these tricks, I’ve found many additional web pages that were buried deep in the far recesses of the internet that mentioned my ancestors. First for some brief background.  As you can see, AncestorSearch has input boxes for First Name, Last name, as well as Alternate Last Name.  This is useful if you want to check alternate spellings for a surname, as in the example below where I’m looking for an association between two … Read more

If at first you don’t succeed… try AncestorSearch

The latest newsletter from UK webssite LostCousins.com contained the following story. It’s such a great example of a success story using my AncestorSearch tool that I just have to share it.  It’s an important reminder that exactly how you format your Google search really does make a huge difference in the results you get; AncestorSearch helps format your Google search to achieve more focused and successful genealogical search results.  See here and here for more background info, and give it a try — even for those ancestors you’ve searched for hundreds of times before to no avail. Here’s the story: … Read more

NEW AncestorSearch version 1.5: See Google Search results in real-time as you type!

This article refers to the AncestorSearch using Google Custom Search found by clicking the link at the top-right of this blog. Before I get to the exciting enhancements to the tool, I first want to say thank you to all of the people who have been using it (over 18,000 hits in the last couple of months), and the many compliments and write-ups from people who have extended their family trees as a result of the tool.  For example, Peter Calver, founder of LostCousins, stated in his 6 Jun 2011 newsletter “the first time I tried it, it led me to a new … Read more

Updated: AncestorSearch using Google Custom Search, version 1.1

This is an update to my original post, “Does this Google Custom Search help find records about your ancestors?“ You may recall that I built the AncestorSearch form as a timesaver for my own genealogical web searches, and I decided to share it on my website in case others find it useful too.  (As a reminder, the AncestorSearch form performs a Google search that is optimized for finding web pages mentioning ancestors by making use of  Google search techniques including quoted phrases, checking both firstname lastname, and lastname firstname order, placing the “OR” statements and parenthesis in the right places, and so on.)    … Read more

Does this Google Custom Search help find records about your ancestors?

[I’ve added an update to this original post here: https://www.randymajors.org/2011/06/new-ancestorsearch-version-15-see] I hesitate posting this prematurely, but I welcome some initial feedback from the genealogy community on a search form that I’ve built. I’ve built an “AncestorSearch” Google Custom Search form on my blog that I’ve been using to find records on my own ancestors, and it’s worked pretty well for me so far over the last several weeks.  I’m choosing to share it now in case others find it useful as well.  Basically, this AncestorSearch search form attempts to filter through much of the irrelevant noise on the web and return … Read more