06 September 2011

Undocumented tricks for surfacing buried ancestors using the AncestorSearch Google Custom Search tool


OK, maybe you won't surface any actual ancestors with these tricks, but you very well may surface a number of buried web pages about them!  By using these tricks, I've found many additional web pages that were buried deep in the far recesses of the internet that mentioned my ancestors.

First for some brief background.  As you can see, AncestorSearch has input boxes for First Name, Last name, as well as Alternate Last Name.  This is useful if you want to check alternate spellings for a surname, as in the example below where I'm looking for an association between two people that I believe are in some way related, but I think their surnames could be listed a couple of different ways:

This particular search doesn't find anything across all of Google (see first image below).  And if you were just typing these names into Google, you'd have to wade through about 17,100 search results to find that out.  Fun. (see second image below).

I know...you could type the following text into Google's search form including placing all the pipes (that's the "|" key) and quotes and spaces in the right places, typing both forward and reverse name order, etc., but isn't that a painful waste of time when it's something the AncestorSearch form does for you?
"william majors"|"majors, william"|"william magers"|"magers, william" "samuel samples"|"samples, samuel"|"samuel sample"|"sample, samuel" "cowley"

So, where are the undocumented tricks, you ask.  Here they are: