How can I improve the randymajors.org mapping and search tools for you?

With many tools getting quite a lot of usage on the randymajors.org website, it’s a good time for me to ask users what I can do to improve the tools. I’d be grateful if you would take a few minutes to provide feedback on the tools you use by following the links below.  Your feedback will help ensure I focus on the things that are most important (including new tools you wish existed!). Please click links or images below to be taken to the survey for that tool.  Your responses will remain anonymous.  (Visit the tools using the links on … Read more

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

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

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

Find people on Google+ that share your interests

Google+ has really created quite a buzz!  It’s estimated to have over 10 million users already (see here), and readers of this blog will be interested to know that Google+ already has a large and active genealogy community. So, if you haven’t signed up for Google+ yet, and want to find people on Google+ that share your interests, I’ve built an easy search tool that may help you:  GplusSearch Also, if you’re a subscriber to this blog and haven’t been able to sign on to Google+ while its in “limited field trial“, send an e-mail to me at randymajors at … 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