April 17, 2014

Search Tips for Finding Tricky Names and Spellings in Ancestry.com and Google

Even the simplest of names can be subject to creative spelling over the centuries. In this video, Ancestry’s Crista Cowan takes on the challenge saying “Misspeld knames are a commun problem for geneoleogy reeserchors.” 

If you are fairly new to researching your family history the video provides an introduction to the evolution of spelling,  names, and the soundex. More advanced genealogists may want to jump in around the 10 minute mark to quickly tap into Cowan’s tips such as:

  • Wild card search
  • Ancestry’s filters
  • surname translations in search results

She also provides a helpful tip on re-setting Ancestry’s filters to the default position (16:40 min.). When you have run a search using filters, and you want to start fresh on a new search, click the “match all terms exactly” and then uncheck it. This action will clear all the filters previously used.

Name Challenges in Google Search

Common surnames and surnames that double for as common words in the English language (i.e. Green) can also wreak havoc in Google Searches. One way to deal with the problem is to use the minus search operator. In the case of the surname Green, you might try:

GREEN FAMILY TREE -ECOLOGY 

Removing the keyword “ecology” from your search query steers Google away from that meaning of the word “green.” Genealogy Gems Premium Members can view the video and download the handout of my Common Surname Google Search Strategies class in the Premium Membership area of the Genealogy Gems website.

Become a Member today for a full year of access to Premium podcast episodes and videos here

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About Lisa

Lisa Louise Cooke is the Producer and Host of the Genealogy Gems Podcast, an online genealogy audio show at www.GenealogyGems.com. She is the author of the books Genealogy Gems: Ultimate Research Strategies and The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, and the Google Earth for Genealogy DVD series, an international conference speaker, and writer for Family Tree Magazine.