19 February 2011

Does this Google Custom Search help find records about your ancestors?

[I've added an update to this original post here: http://randymajors.com/2011/06/new-ancestorsearch-version-15-see.html]

I hesitate posting this prematurely, but I welcome some initial feedback from the genealogy community on a search form that I've built.

I've built an "AncestorSearch" Google Custom Search form on my blog that I've been using to find records on my own ancestors, and it's worked pretty well for me so far over the last several weeks.  I'm choosing to share it now in case others find it useful as well.  Basically, this AncestorSearch search form attempts to filter through much of the irrelevant noise on the web and return a much more focused set of results which are more likely to be about the ancestors you are looking for.


For example, I was searching for my 3rd great grandparents’ marriage using Google, and entered the search term as follows:
Mary Diamond OR Dimond Peter Connor OR Conner New Orleans 1850 marriage
The search returned 21,300 results, none of which were relevant to my ancestors in page after page of search results.

I then entered the same search terms into the boxes in my AncestorSearch search form, and the search returned 4 results, with the 1st result being the marriage record I was looking for!  (Now it returns 5 results, as the AncestorSearch page itself has been indexed by Google)


Now, to be clear, there's no magic here.  All I've done with the search form is use some Google operators and search techniques such as "OR"/"|", quoted phrases, checking both orders of first name and last name, etc.  You can do the same thing yourself by entering the following into the standard Google search box, but it's a bit more cumbersome:
(("Mary Diamond"|"Diamond, Mary")|("Mary Dimond"|"Dimond, Mary")) (("Peter Connor"|"Connor, Peter")|("Peter Conner"|"Conner, Peter")) "New Orleans" (marriage|married|marriages) (1849|1850|1851)

If you're interested, give it a shot and see if this AncestorSearch Google Custom Search form is useful for you for finding a more focused set of results for some of your ancestors:

http://randymajors.com/p/ancestorsearch.html

I welcome any feedback.


[I've added an update to this original post here: http://randymajors.com/2011/03/updated-ancestorsearch-using-google.html]