Search billions of records on

Searching the Internet      

                                                                                                                September 2000

Search Strategy

            Don’t wander around. 

           Organize – make a list  of Who & What you’re looking for

Target your ancestor

·        Someone who’s already researched your family line

·        Marriage record

·        GEDCOM

·        Census records

·        Land records



Do a Simple Search if you have a unique name, an Advanced search if you need to narrow down hits.  (Separate sheet for Advanced search notes.)

            Sometimes you won’t need a search engine at all, but only a website that contains local information or historical data.


Different internet sites depending on what you want to find.

·        Standard search engine— Won’t find every single web page on the Internet. They’re not genealogy specific. Each has about 20% of the web.

Each search engine is different from the others & won’t return the same results—even when same search terms are entered.













·        Genealogy related search engine— Searches specific databases or genealogy-only sites.



RootsWeb WorldConnect-- free 


                              Ancestry World Tree--   free   



                  Land Records

Can search using advanced search capabilities of standard search engines.  Best online searchable database is:


                        Bureau of Land Management –



Finding Other Genealogist’s Research

            Largest sites:

·        RootsWeb Surname List—registered surnames being researched. Results show surname, migration pattern, dates, e-mail address of submitter.



·        GENDEX WWW—Search and view hundreds of databases without visiting each site.

Genealogical Index


·        LDS Family Search


·        Family Tree Maker – commercial site



Census Project

                        USGenWeb Census Project –Can do surname search across all their transcribed records.




Locality or Historical events




The USGenWeb-  Every county has a page. Includes queries, surname lists with submitter’s e-mail addresses, obituaries, wills, pensions, cemetery, etc.








Searching the Internet


 Janelle’s Favorite Genealogy websites- September 2000:


Rootsweb –

Rootsweb Gensite --

Rootsweb Social Security Death Index Interactive Search --



Ancestry Homepage –


Ancestry Databases --


Ancestry Social Security Death Index --


Ancestors (PBS series companion)


LDS Family Search--

Family History Library Catalog--



County Finder --


BLM Land Patents--


Library of Congress--

Sutro Library Catalog (S.F.)

NGS Library--


Cyndi’s List (77,500 links)--


USGenWeb Project’s State List--


National Genealogical Society--


National Archives and Records Administration--


USIGS—(Internet Genealogy Society)








Searching the Internet


Default search parameters—Know your search engine’s defaults. Click on HELP.


            AltaVista              AND       “Andrew Johnson”   Andrew AND Johnson

            Northernlights      AND

            Google                  AND

            Infoseek                OR         “Andrew Johnson”   Andrew OR Johnson


Advanced Searches

BOOLEAN LOGIC uses “operative” words instead of characters to refine the search.


Used by some search engines to allow you to construct a more sophisticated search.

                        The Boolean terms used by search engines are:

AND                              (but not necessarily in that order)

OR                                 (at least one of the words, but not necessarily all of them.)

NEAR                            (find words within so many words of one another)

AND NOT                     (excludes documents containing specific words or phrases)

( )                       (what order you want the search performed.)  Algebra… functions within the parenthesis done before functions outside the parenthesis (2+2)x(2x5). Keywords within the parenthesis are searched prior to the application of other search terms.

Common Search Commands – not for Advanced Search

&     ( =  AND)

|       ( =  OR)

!       (=   AND NOT)

~      (=   NEAR)

*                                    (wildcard)     genealog*    (pages with the words genealogy, genealogist, genealoists, genealogical.)

+ sign in front of a search word means the Web page MUST contain the word.

- sign in front of a word means webpage must not contain the word.

“ “ To put one or more words in parenthesis tells the search engine to look for phrases.

                   “Golden Gate Bridge”

Advanced Search  --   Sort by: box

            Formulate a search, then tell what order you want the results ranked.  If box is left blank, results will be at random.

            Revolutionary War pensions from state of VA

Boolean         (revolution* NEAR war) NEAR pension*

Sort by:    “virginia”                 

If you routinely do the same search each month, AltaVista can limit the date range. Search results haven’t been seen before.  Starting date—goes to today’s date.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: notes from “Where on the Web? Internet Search Strategies by Nancy Hendrickson, Everton’s Genealogical Helper, May-June 2000. p.10.