How much luck do you have when you search
for your surnames of interest on-line when you do your genealogy
research? When you learn how to "translate" your problems into key words
and symbols to use in a search engine (let's say the Google search engine),
light bulbs go off--and a switch is flipped
on in your mind--then, the keys to the Internet are yours.
I've helped thousands flip their switch and develop what I call a research mindset, to have great success on the Internet and I am going to get you started...
Here is how it works: The plus (+) symbol forces a key word
to be INCLUDED. Technically, you don't have to use it, but
I want you to because it helps your mind approach and
solve research problems.
Here's an example: The staple of genealogy research is
vital records, when our ancestors were born, died,
and married--so a search with any surname and these
key words work well.
TYPE IN: +ragan +born
Here is how it would look on the Google search engine.
Note: There is no space between the + symbol and the
r in ragan or the b in born.
Also Note: You can use the key word "died" or "married"
in the spot where "born" is in the above example.
You will FINE-TUNE your surname searches: Count on doing a
search from three to five times. Each time you click
on the "Google Search" button you will examine the
results and see if there are any other key words you
can include or exclude.
Don't worry about a large amount
of results. What matters is the top ten or twenty,
ignore the rest and start fine tuning. This way you
really CAN find the needle in the haystack. You will
be able to get the good stuff to come to the top
like cream floats to the top of Grandpa's milk pail.
The students I've taught can usually find what they
want in three minute or less. If it is on the Internet,
you can find it.
Now let's expand this search method and add additional
"clues" or key words like county names, state names,
state abbreviations, etc. to your surnames.
Here's an example: I have Ragan's from this area of
Florida, which is in Duval county. So a good search
to start with could be:
+ragan +born +duval
Here's another example: Let's say that you have some
Kennedy ancestors from the Texas area. Your surname
search might be:
+kennedy +died +texas
Or it could ALSO be: +kennedy +died +tx
If you do this surname search you will run into
a problem--more on this in a minute--but you get the idea, right?.
Try it with some of the surnames you are researching.
The minus (-) symbol forces a key word to be EXCLUDED.
This is an extremely powerful research tool when you
learn how to use it properly with the plus symbol.
Here's another example: One of the variant spellings
of my surname is REAGAN. What do you think happens when
you start doing searches with this name? Many of the
results that come back when I do a search are about
president Ronald Reagan. Here is how to fix the problem:
TYPE IN: +reagan +born -president
Note: the word "president" will NOT be in any of the
results that Google shows because it was forced to be excluded.
Do you understand what just happened?
What if the surname was a common surname like "Morse" or "Cook"? Here are
example of searches that you might do using the symbols:
+morse +married -code (the word "code" is excluded
because of "morse code").
+cook +died -food -chef (the words "food" and "chef" are excluded).
In our Kennedy example we talked about earlier, there
is a problem. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated
in Texas so your results will have references to him.
To solve this problem, you might try:
+kennedy +died +texas -president -jfk -assassinated
Now do it with some of your surnames.