Search Hack – Google Site Search

Show Notes: How to use Google site search to search a website that doesn’t have a good search engine, or doesn’t have one at all. Google’s Site Search will help you find exactly what you need! This tip comes from the hour-long Premium Membership “Elevenses with Lisa” video called 5 Genealogy Search Hacks. Premium Members can download the exclusive cheat sheet PDF on the show notes page.

Watch the Video

Show Notes

(Downloadable ad-free Show Notes handout & cheat sheet for Premium Members.)

Use Google’s Site search to dig into websites:

  • that don’t have a search feature,
  • that have a search feature that’s not great,
  • or to double-check that you found everything at that site.

Essentially, you can use Google Site search as a custom search engine for a specific website.

For example, USGenWeb is a free genealogy website that has been around for a long time and has a vast number of pages and content. There isn’t a search box on the home page, but you can click Search & Site Map in the menu. However, you’ll notice that their search engine is powered by a third party called FreeFind which has been around since 1998. Because it’s free and a third party, the search field is definitely not secure. Since that’s the case, you might as well use the largest and most powerful search engine in the world, Google,  to search to run your search instead. Google’s site search is the way to do that.

A note about websites like USGenWeb: Make sure that you are searching the correct website.
Notice the URL for the USGenWeb website: https://usgenweb.org/index.html. Click the desired state on the map on the home page. Now, look at the URL again.

Example: Indiana  http://ingenweb.org/

Notice that it’s actually a different website. Each state has the two-letter state abbreviation at the beginning of the URL. Use the state address when conducting a site search.

Example Search: If I wanted to find all mentions of a surname in the state, my site search would look like this:

Hulse site:http://ingenweb.org/

You can use the Google search operators listed in my book The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox to be even more specific about what you want to find.

The Genealogist's Google Toolbox Third edition Lisa Louise Cooke

Available in the Genealogy Gems Store

Premium Resources

Extraordinary European Records in New and Updated Genealogical Collections

An extraordinary list of European record sets is included in this week’s new and updated genealogical collections. Starting in Ireland and moving across the country, places include: United Kingdom, Belgium, France, Netherlands, and more.

dig these new record collections

Ireland – Marriage Index

Over 250,000 names have been added to an online database of Irish births, marriages, and deaths. The Irish Genealogical Research Society (IGRS) first created a marriage database in 2014 when it put 40,000 marriage certificates online, and now is adding entries for births and deaths too.

The Early Irish Marriage Index is completely free to all who wish to use it, however, those wishing to browse the Early Irish Birth and Death Indexes are required to take out membership of the IGRS.

United Kingdom – Yorkshire and Derbyshire – Baptisms

Yorkshire & Derbyshire Methodist Baptisms at Findmypast contain over 42,000 for Methodist Churches between 1795 and 1997. The collection covers the densely populated Sheffield district. Sheffield is located in South Yorkshire, traditionally part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, and many of its suburbs stretch into Derbyshire.

Each record will provide you with a transcript created from original church records. The details in each record will vary, but most will include name, birth year, baptism date, denomination, chapel, place, parent’s name, and county.

United Kingdom – Yorkshire & Derbyshire – Methodist Marriages

Also at Findmypast, the Yorkshire & Derbyshire Methodist Marriages collections contains over 22,000 records. These records also cover the Sheffield district. Within the collection, you will find records from eight branches of the Methodist Church: Free Methodist, Methodist, Methodist New Connection, Primitive Methodist, United Free Methodist, United Methodist, Wesleyan Methodist, and Wesleyan Reform Methodist.

Within the collection, you will find records from eight branches of the Methodist Church: Free Methodist, Methodist, Methodist New Connection, Primitive Methodist, United Free Methodist, United Methodist, Wesleyan Methodist, and Wesleyan Reform Methodist.

United Kingdom – Newspapers

Over 1.5 million new articles have been added to Findmypast’s collection of historic British Newspapers. Three brand new titles have also been added; the Cricket and Football Field, Lloyd’s List and the Homeward Mail from India, China and the East.

Lloyd’s List is one of the world’s oldest continuously running journals, having provided weekly shipping news in London as early as 1734. The Homeward Mail from India China and the East will be a huge help for those researching the history of empire, or for those with British or Irish ancestors who lived in India.

United Kingdom – Middlesex – Monumental Inscriptions

Findmypast offers over 12,000 records of Middlesex Monumental Inscriptions for 1485-2014. These monumental inscriptions are from St Nicholas Church, Chiswick.

The records cover the years 1485 to 2014 and include transcripts for each entry. While the amount of available information will vary from transcript to transcript, most will include a combination of name, birth year, death year, dedication, place, monument type, and inscription.

Inscriptions might include the names of others buried in that plot and more specific details regarding age, birth, and death dates. This can be helpful as it can provide you with the names and dates of your ancestor’s next of kin.

Belgium – Civil Registration

FamilySearch’s database titled, Belgium, Namur, Civil Registration, 1800-1912 is one of the extraordinary European records collections this week. This collection contains primarily civil registration records of births, marriages, and deaths. A few other records are included are marriage proclamations and marriage supplements.

Among the details found in these civil registrations, you will likely find names, dates of vital events, residences, parents’ names, and residences, occupations, and much more.

France – Parish Records

The European records for genealogy continue in this new and updated collection at FamilySearch, the France, Finistère, Quimper et Léon Diocese, Catholic Parish Records, 1772-1894. Though the record set is rather small with only a little over 11, 000 records, this collection consists of name indexes and images of Catholic parish registers recording events of baptism, marriage and burial in the Diocese of Quimper et Léon. Parishes in this diocese lie within the department of Finistère and this collection only contains parishes that start with the letter “A” or “B”.

The following parishes are included:

  • Argol
  • Arzano
  • Audierne
  • Bannalec
  • Brest-paroisse-Notre-Dame-des-Carmes
  • Brest Hospice Civile
  • Brest-paroisse-Lambézellec
  • Brest-paroisse-Saint-Louis
  • Brest-paroisse-Saint-Martin
  • Brest-paroisse-Saint-Pierre

Further revisions to the collection will follow as other parishes are published in future.

Netherlands – Misc. Records

FamilySearch has added more European records in the Netherlands, Archival Indexes and they include such records as civil registration, church records, emigration lists, military registers, land records, and tax records. These records cover events like birth, marriage, death, burial, emigration and immigration, military enrollment and more.

The collection continues to grow as records become available, but as of now, the only indexes published on FamilySearch are the Amsterdam Christening Registers from 1564 to 1811 and the burial index from the Regional Archives Rijnlands Midden. For the entire index collection, visit OpenArchives.

Russia – Church Books

Also at FamilySearch, the Russia, Tver Church Books, 1722-1918 are now available. Though only a relatively small number of these records have been indexed, there are over 3 million that have been digitally scanned and are browse-able. Records include births and baptisms, marriages, deaths, and burials performed by priests in the province of Tver (and surrounding provinces) from 1722-1918. These records were originally created at a local level, but were acquired from the state archive in Tver. An index of baptisms is also included.

United States – Maine – Brunswick

There is a unique story of a person who felt the call to serve the genealogy community. Mr. Richard Snow has collected and created an extensive index of articles, pictures, and obituaries from the Brunswick [Maine] Telegraph and the Brunswick Record — forerunners to today’s The Times Record. He then donated his work to the Curtis Memorial Library and it is accessible to you!

The Snow Index will give many a chance to delve into their family’s pasts by accessing the library’s website, a substantial shortcut over previous practices like coming into the library or browsing newspaper websites. This is an index to citations only and not index that leads to full online text. However, with this index as a help, you will likely be able to find the full content with the assistance of the Curtis Memorial Library. Isn’t it great to hear about genealogist’s doing great things? Thank you, Mr. Snow!

United States – Wisconsin – Vital Records

A recent change in state statutes will allow Wisconsin residents to more easily obtain public documents. All Wisconsin register of deeds offices can now issue birth, death, marriage, and divorce records regardless of the county in which the event occurred, as long as the event occurred in Wisconsin.

A statewide database has been created that will allow all offices to access the records. Not all records are available, but the following are:

  • Wisconsin births since 1907;
  • Deaths since Sept. 1, 2013
  • Marriages since June 21, 2015;
  • Divorces since Jan. 1, 2016

Be sure to contact the county register of deeds office you plan to visit to make sure they are offering the database at this time. It will likely take a while to get everything up and running!

Ghana – Census

FamilySearch has also added more indexed records to the Ghana Census, 1984. This population census for Ghana is a complete enumeration of the 12.3 million people residing in Ghana as of midnight March 11, 1984. The census is divided into 56,170 localities. According to the government of Ghana, a locality is defined as any “nucleated and physically distinct settlement.” Localities may include a single house, a hamlet, a village, town or city. In some areas of the Upper West and Upper East Regions, these localities are based on kinship groups. Only those individuals, including foreign visitors, who were present in Ghana on March 11, 1984, were included in this census.

There have been some records lost in Ghana and so not all localities are available. Important: Be aware that the printed date on the census enumeration form usually says 1982, but this census was formally conducted in 1984.

The 1984 Ghana census may hold the following information:

  • Detailed address of Ghana Census 1984the house
  • Name of town/village
  • Full name of members present on census night
  • Relationship to head of household
  • Gender, age, birthpla
    ce, and nationality of each individual
  • Level of education
  • Occupation
  • Employment status
  • Names of visitors on census night
  • Names of members absent on census night

More on Researching European Records for Genealogy

Chart your research course to find your European ancestors with the how-to instruction in this book. This one-of-a-kind collection provides invaluable information about more than 35 countries in a single source. Each of the 14 chapters is devoted to a specific country or region of Europe and includes all the essential records and resources for filling in your family tree.

Inside you’ll find:

  • Specific online and print resources including 700 websites
  • Contact information for more than 100 archives and libraries
  • Help finding relevant records
  • Traditions and historical events that may affect your family’s past
  • Historical time lines and maps for each region and country

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting Genealogy Gems!

How to Use Google Lens

Elevenses with Lisa Episode 27

Original air date: 10/1/20
Join me for Elevenses with Lisa, the online video series where we take a break, visit and learn about genealogy and family history.

how to use google lens

Google Lens with Lisa Louise Cooke

What is Google Lens?

Google Lens is a free technology that Google says helps you ”search what you see.” It uses the latest in Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and artificial intelligence to accomplish tasks.

In this video and article we’ll discuss where you can get Google Lens and how to use it for a wide variety of tasks.

Hang on tight to your phone and let’s jump in!

Google Lens is in Google Photos

Google Lens is doing much of the work in Google Photos. It can detect the faces in your photos, and allow you to search by face. It can also detect objects and text, making it a super fast way to search the photos and images you store in Google Photos.

If you’re not interested in storing all of your photos on Google Photos, that’s OK. As a genealogist, you could still use it for more strategic purposes. You could use it just for family history photos and related genealogical images like documents and photos of tombstones. All of the content you add can then be quickly and easily searched for and found. It can even help you identify a known ancestor in other photos where you may not have recognized it was the same person.

We will talk about specific ways to use Google Lens in Google Photos. But first, let’s talk about all of the ways you can get your hands on Google Lens.

Where can I find Google Lens on my phone or tablet?

Google Lens is available on most mobile devices but not all. Some Samsung devices don’t currently support it. Here’s where you can find Google Lens.

Google Lens is built into Google PhotosDownload the Google Photos app to your phone. Pull up one of your photos and look for the Lens icon at the bottom of the screen. If it is there, your phone supports Google Lens.

Google Lens in the Google Search app – You will see the Lens icon in the search bar if your phone supports Google Lens.

The Google Lens app – On Android devices look for the Google Lens app in the Google Play app store.

Where can I find Google Lens on my computer?

Google Lens is primarily a mobile tool although Google Lens is built into the functionality of Google Photos. (It works behind the scenes – you won’t find a Google Lens icon.)

However, you can use your phone to user Google Lens to capture text and then send it to the Chrome browser on your desktop computer.

Using Lens in the Google Photos App

To use Google Lens on your photos in the Google Photos app, you’ll first need to give the app permission to receive the photos you take with your phone. You can then open the Google Photos app and select a photo. In this episode I used the example of a potted plant (Image A below).

Google Lens in the Google Photos app

(Image A) Google Lens in the Google Photos app

Tap the Google Lens icon at the bottom of the screen and you will receive search results that include the name of the plant, photo examples of the same plant, possible shopping options, and web pages providing more information about that plant.

Here’s another way you can use the Google Lens feature in the Google Photos app:

  1. Take a photo of a business card. (I used Google’s PhotoScan app to do this. The app does a great job of removing glare and other distortions that can occur when you photograph something with your phone. You can download the free Google PhotoScan app from your device’s app store.)
  2. Access the photo in the Google Photos app.
  3. Tap the Google Lens icon.
  4. Lens turns the information on the card into actionable buttons:
  • Add to contacts
  • Call now
  • search on the web
  • go to the website

 

Google Lens is in the Google Search app

On many mobile devices such as the iPhone (but not all devices) the Google Lens icon will appear in the search bar. If you’re not sure if you already have the Google Search app on your phone, go to the app store app on your phone and search for “Google Search.” You will see the app listed with a button that either says “Open” (because it is already on your phone) or “Install” (because it is not yet on your phone.)

You can also check to see if they app is on your phone by searching for “Google Search” in the search bar of your phone.

Here’s what the Google Search app looks like on a phone (Image B below):

The Google Wearch app

(Image B) Look for the Google Search app on your phone.

 

The Google Lens App

If you have an Android phone, search the Google Play store for the Google Lens app. Here’s what the app looks like (Image C below):

google lens app

(Image C) Android users with phone’s supporting Google Lens will find the app in the Google Play app store.

What Google Lens Can Do

Once you start using Google Lens the possibilities for its use can seem endless. Here’s a list of the kinds of things Google Lens can do:

  • Shopping
  • Identify Objects
  • Copy Text from printed materials or objects
  • Search for Text on printed material or objects
  • Solve math problems
  • Read text to you
  • Translate text

How to Use Google Lens to Read a Book

Before you buy that next history book or go through the trouble of requesting it through inter-library loan, why not let Google Lens determine if it is already available for free online? This next tip works really well for old books that are likely to be in the public domain or printed before 1924.

  1. Open the book to the title page
  2. Open the Google Search app on your phone
  3. Tap the Google Lens icon
  4. Hold your phone over the title page
  5. Tap the search button
  6. If the book is available on Google Books, the title will appear along with a blue “Read” button
  7. Tap the “Read” button to access, read and search the book on Google Books for free!
Learn more about Google with this book

(Image D) Point your phone’s camera or Google Lens at the QR code

Open the camera on your phone and point it at the QR code above (Image D)  to be taken to the book in the Genealogy Gems store.
Use coupon code LENS to get 20% off!

Resources

Premium Video & Handout: Solving Unidentified Photo Album Cases. (This video features using Google Photos.)
Book: The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox by Lisa Louise Cooke. (Includes search strategies, Google Photos, and Google Translate.)

Bonus Download exclusively for Premium Members: Download the show notes handout

Answers to Your Live Chat Questions

One of the advantages of tuning into the live broadcast of each Elevenses with Lisa show is participating in the Live Chat and asking your questions. 

From Rosalyn: Lisa are the old photos hanging on your wall the originals or copies? They are very nice.
Lisa’s Answer: I always put copies in frames when I hang them on the wall because light can fade originals. They are all my family.

From Jn Rollins: ​Does it do the same identification for birds?
Lisa’s Answer: I haven’t snapped a photo of a bird, but I’m sure it could. I used it on a photo of a bird, and it identified it perfectly.

From Susan: ​I have to download an app to get the lens icon?
Lisa’s Answer: If you have an Android phone, you may be able to download the free Google Lens app from your app store. Otherwise, you will find the icon in the Google Search app or the Google Photos app on supported devices.

From Patriva: ​Is Google Go the same as Google Search?
Lisa’s Answer: Google Go is a “lighter faster” search app. I think it may be geared more toward Samsung devices. I have a Samsung Tab and it doesn’t support Google Lens.

From Carrie: ​Does this work with the Google Chrome app?
Lisa’s Answer: The Chrome app doesn’t have the Google Lens icon.

From Jn Rollins: ​I installed Lens a while ago on my Android phone, but when I open Google search the lens icon doesn’t appear next to the microphone icon. How can I change that?
Lisa’s Answer: Some Android devices (like Samsung phones) don’t support Google Lens so you won’t see the icon. Check the app store to see if they offer the Google Lens app for your phone. However, I’m guessing it probably won’t be offered since it sounds like your phone doesn’t support Google Lens.

From Christine: ​I love this technology for speeding up research! But I have some reservations—what privacy are we giving away? How will Google use our search history?
Lisa’s Answer: I would not use Google Lens for anything I consider “sensitive.” Go to the privacy settings in your Google MyActivity to learn more.

From Lynnette: ​Can you put the text into Evernote easily?
Lisa’s Answer: Absolutely! Tap to copy the detected text, open an Evernote note, press your finger in the note and tap Paste to paste the text.

From Colleen: I see you are google searching. Does doing this with photos allow others to access my google photos when searching for an item? For example, the example you used with the purse?
Lisa’s Answer: To the best of my knowledge your photos are not searchable by others online. However, it is possible that Google uses the image internally to “train” the machine learning. Go to the privacy settings in your Google MyActivity to learn more.

From Christine: Lisa, can this be used to compare photos to determine if they are the same person? Thanks for sharing all your wisdom!
Lisa’s Answer: Yes! Watch my Premium membership video called Solving Unidentified Photo Album Cases.

From Caryl: ​Don’t know what a symbol is on a headstone? Now this would be oh so helpful!!
Lisa’s Answer: Yes, indeed!

From Susan: ​I quickly took a photo of the book cover, so now I can get your book! Is it better to buy directly from you or go to Amazon?
Lisa’s Answer: The book is available exclusively at my website: https://www.shopgenealogygems.com

From Debbie: Will FamilySearch’s app be independent, or will it work / integrate with Google?
Lisa’s Answer: FamilySearch would not be integrated. However, as handwriting technology is developed I’m sure you’ll find it in use in both places.

Please Leave a Comment or Question

I really want to hear from you. Did you enjoy this episode? Do you have a question? Please leave a comment on the video page at YouTube or call and leave a voice mail at (925) 272-4021 and I just may answer it on the show!

If you enjoyed this show and learned something new, will you please share it with your friends? Thank you for your support!

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