Rooting and Googling

by Ruby Coleman

RootsWeb.com is a favorite genealogical area on Internet. With its many areas for searching, as well as databases, freepages and much more, it can be cumbersome to search. The RootsWeb.com home page is located at http://www.rootsweb.com/. From there you will see many places to click and explore. It's easy to get lost, so perhaps some of the following tips will be helpful to you in your ancestral quest.

First make a list of your surnames, locations and better yet, information on specific family groups that you are researching. Using that list, begin exploring the many facets of RootsWeb.com.

With your location or regions list, check out the Information by Region resources at http://www.rootsweb.com/roots-l/regional.html. Clicking on the United States, you will soon see that each state has their own resource page with many links to check.

One of the more popular web pages connected with RootsWeb.com is the WorldConnect Project located at http://worldconnect.rootsweb.com/. This contains databases of genealogical information people have submitted and shared. Keep in mind that much of this information contains no documentation. However, it is possible to either leave post-it notes on information you find or to contact the submitter.

With 1,109,481 surnames on file at RootsWeb Surname List, you most likely will find a match with some of the surnames you are researching. This popular site is located at http://rsl.rootsweb.com. A search of the RootsWeb Site, known as SearchThingy is located at http://sitesearch.rootsweb.com/cgi-bin/search.

In 1987 the mailing list ROOTS-L was started. This is the original Internet genealogical mailing list and because of its longevity it is enormous. The subject matter pertains to genealogical research anywhere in the World. For more information on subscribing or checking the archives of messages, go to http://www.rootsweb.com/roots-l/.

You will soon discover that RootsWeb.com has more than ROOTS-L in their list of mailing lists. The web page, http://lists.rootsweb.com/, will allow you to explore what is available in surnames, locations and subjects. To quickly find a specific surname, go to http://lists.rootsweb.com/cgi-bin/findlist.pl.

Once you have a mailing list in mind, you can perform an Interactive Search of archived messages, specifying the list name, year of interest and query. The query can be a surname, a location or any combination of words that you wish to search. The web page, http://searches2.rootsweb.com/cgi-bin/listsearch.pl, takes you directly to this type of search. To spend more time reading threaded messages from specific mailing lists, go to http://archiver.rootsweb.com/.

Message Boards are places where you can leave or review queries. They are located on RootsWeb.com at http://boards.ancestry.com/mbexec?htx=main&r=rw. At these you can browse by surname, location or topic. You can also search all of the message boards for a specific surname, location or topic.

If all this seems rather complicated and time consuming for you, check out the RootsWeb.com Meta Search site at http://resources.rootsweb.com/cgi-bin/metasearch. A simple form asking for surname, given name and type greets you at this site. By filling in at least a surname you are well on the way to discovering what is available for you at RootsWeb.com. Let the fun begin!

There are many search engines on Internet, some proclaiming to be the most up-to-date, some the fastest, and some that search more than one search engine at a time. One of the popular search engines, Google, was founded in 1998 by a pair of Stanford graduates. Today they claim to handle 200 million searches per day and about 75 percent of all search engine traffic on Internet.

Of course, Google doesn't just google genealogy! However, it is an effective way to search the Internet for anything pertaining to genealogy. With your list of surnames, locations and even full information on your ancestors, begin your research at http://www.google.com. Click on Advanced Search where you will see four methods for searching:

  • with all the words
  • with the exact phrase
  • with at least one of the words
  • without the words

Experiment with you ancestor's names. You can fill in your ancestor's full name in the exact phrase box and click on search. Try filling in the full name in the exact phrase book and adding a location or other identifying information or even the words “genealogy” or “family history” in the with all the words box. Type your ancestor's full name in the exact phrase box followed by the symbol + and then the full name of his or her spouse.

Google is case insensitive, so you can use lower case effectively when searching. It will automatically search on the plural form of a word. Google will return alternate spellings. If you type in geneology, it will suggest genealogy. Missing web page can also be located in a cached version at Google.

There is even more to the way Google searches. Try looking for images on Google. Maybe you will locate a photograph of an ancestor! Begin at http://images.google.com. There are over 425 million images available, returned in thumbnail version. By clicking on a thumbnail of the image, you can view a larger version, along with the web page where it is located.

Google also searches the archives of Usenet discussion groups back to 1981. From the main page of http://www.google.com, click on Groups. Try entering a search for genealogy plus a location or topic or surname.

Something new on Google is their Froogle site. This can be accessed from the main page, http://www.google.com. Type in the name of a book, author, CD or location that interests you to learn what is on the market via Internet.

While this type of searching can be time consuming, it is well worth the time to learn what is on Internet pertaining to your ancestors, the areas that you research or questions you might have regarding your research.

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