How can you keep up with new online information on your family history that may appear at any moment? You can’t, unless you run constant searches on your web browser, and who’s got time for that? Google does! And it accomplish that incredible search feat for you through Google Alerts.
Google Alerts is like having your own virtual research assistant! When you key in your favorite searches, Google Alerts will automatically email you when there are new Google results for your search terms.
How to Create a Google Alert for Genealogy
1. Go to www.google.com/alerts.
2. Sign in to your Google account (or create one).
3. The first time you create an alert, click where it says, “You don’t have any Google Alerts. Try creating one.” Fill in the screen that pops up:
4. Type in your search query. In the example above, I’ve entered my specific search: “Larson” “Winthrop” Minnesota.
5. Make selections to further refine your search alert:
- The type of content you’re looking for: news, blogs, videos, discussions, books or everything.
- How often you want to receive the alerts by email.
- The type of results you want to get. You may want to receive all results, not just the best results which will give you an opportunity to see how your search does. You can always change settings later.
6. Enter the email address where you want the alert emails to be delivered. Google will alert you to new content when it is posted on the Web.
Resources for Getting the Most Out of Using Google Alerts
Learn more about how to conduct effective Google searches for genealogy research, Google Alerts for genealogy, and more in my book The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, Second Edition. This fully-revised 2015 edition is packed with strategies that will dramatically improve your ability to find your family history online!
Genealogy Gems Premium Members can also watch my full length Google search video classes:
- Common Surname Search Secrets
- Ultimate Google Search Strategies
- Digging Deeper into Web Sites with Google Site Search
See the complete list of Premium video classes here.
Learn more about Genealogy Gems Premium Membership here!
The popular genealogy software RootsMagic (and valued sponsor of The Genealogy Gems Podcast) already has an app for iOS (iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch) users. Now it’s got one for Android users!
A RootsMagic news release explains the app’s useful features:
- “Access your actual RootsMagic files via iTunes or Dropbox – RootsMagic for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch uses your actual RootsMagic files- no conversion needed. You can copy as many files as you want right on your device via iTunes or Dropbox. Users of other genealogy software such as PAF, Family Tree Maker, Legacy Family Tree, and others can convert their files into viewable RootsMagic files using our free desktop software.
- Easily search and explore your family tree – Familiar Pedigree, Family, Descendant, and Individual Views help you quickly explore your family tree. You can also search for specific people by name or record number.
- View pictures, notes, and sources – All of your RootsMagic data is available inside the app. Touch any name to see more information about that person as well as family members. All of a person’s information is there including notes, sources, and pictures.
- Lists – Browse lists of your information and view more information about sources, to-do items, research logs, media, addresses, repositories, correspondences, and places.
- Tools and Calculators – useful tools to assist you in your research including a perpetual calendar, date calculator, relationship calculator, and soundex calculator.”
The RootsMagic app is available on Google Play and in the Amazon appstore. Learn more at at www.rootsmagic.com/app.
Do you have old pictures but aren’t sure where they were taken? Sometimes Google Earth has the answer. Check out this question from podcast listener Dennis:
Q: “I am scanning slides from my only trip to my ancestor’s home in rural Germany and don’t recall the names or locations of a few people. The clue hear is ‘slides’. They were taken in 1986! I have a question regarding something I thought I heard on one of your podcasts regarding identifying a building via a picture that is uploaded to a web site. Can you give me some help with this?”
A: Yes! On my website, I offer a FREE video in which I demonstrate how to identify a building in an old photo using Google Earth. You can watch the free video by going to www.GenealogyGems.com, hover your mouse over VIDEO, and click on Google Earth for Genealogy in the drop down menu.
Another option is to use the free Google app on your smart phone or tablet. Open the app, tap in the search box, tap the Camera icon, and take a photo of the photo you have that contains the building you want to identify. (This works best with more well known locations.) It’s a long shot, but you never know – Google just may be able to identify it.
Good luck, Dennis–and all the rest of you out there who are puzzling over how to identify old photos’ locations.
Find more tips on using Google Earth for Genealogy in my popular Google Earth for Genealogy 2-Disk Bundle. The free video is just the beginning of what you can do with Google Earth!
Congratulations to Amanda, the winner of our Family Tree Magazine Digital Subscription Giveaway!
We did the giveaway to celebrate my article in the December 2013 issue of Family Tree Magazine, co-written with Genealogy Gems Contributing Editor Sunny Morton. The article is all about collaborating on our genealogy research.
I think it’s cool that Amanda’s big on collaboration herself. She blogs about her research at ABT-UNK. (Yes, that’s the name of her blog: it combines two common genealogy abbreviations for “about” and “unknown.”) Amanda points us to a recent post, “a really good example of collaboration via my blog. The two photos in the post http://www.honeytraveler.com/pharmacy/ were provided by two cousins of different degrees who found me via my blog, and five different people (so far) have been involved in identifying the people in the “Christmas Cousins” picture. I’ve connected with lots of other kin who found me via my blog (including a distant cousin in Lithuania, who helped me break through a brick wall there), and they have provided a wealth of information and wonderful photographs!”
Congratulations, Amanda, both on winning our giveaway and on your excellent research and blog. Keep it up! And thanks to Family Tree Magazine Editor Diane Haddad for donating the subscription.
RootsTech 2017 is already wowing us with their recent announcement of Friday’s keynote speaker, LaVar Burton. Not just known for favorites like Reading Rainbow and Star Trek: The Next Generation, LaVar has been known by millions for his role as Kunta Kinte the 1977, ABC mini series, Roots.
I can hardly wait until Friday, February 10th, 2017 when LaVar Burton is introduced on stage as a keynote speaker at RootsTech! One of my childhood favorites, I grew up listening to him share his love of reading in Reading Rainbow and teaching his best friend, Data, how to be more ‘human’ in the popular TV show, Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Mr. Burton is excited about the opportunity to speak at RootsTech where he plans to share personal stories about Roots, Star Trek, and his Reading Rainbow foundation. He also plans on sharing stories of his mom and her commanding influence on him. He says,
“The story of Roots traces a family’s journey from Africa to America and back. At RootsTech, I’ll share some of my own journey of family, storytelling and the influence of African culture on my American Experience.”
RootsTech Keynote Speakers and More
LaVar Burton is the first RootsTech Keynote Speaker to be announced for 2017. More speakers will be announced over the coming weeks.
If you haven’t heard, registration has already started for the RootsTech genealogy conference in Salt Lake City. Visit www.rootstech.org to register or learn more.
Be sure to come by and visit the entire Genealogy Gems team in the Expo Hall. We have some very special things planned for the event. Stay tuned!