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Finding Your Ancestors on the Internet
A Guide to Internet Search Techniques for the Surnames in Your Family Tree
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By Kimberly Powell

needle in a haystackSearching the Internet for specific information on your family or surname is often analogized with trying to find the proverbial needle in a haystack.  You know that the information is there, but you feel like you are having to move the entire haystack piece by piece to find it.  There are many wonderful family history Web pages on the Internet which remain undiscovered because people just don't know how to locate them.  These pages may contain just the valuable information that you are looking for - family trees, stories, photographs, cemetery transcriptions, wills, etc.  

Many of us start our search for ancestors on the Internet by going to our favorite search engine's home page and typing in our surname.  Imagine our surprise when thousands upon thousands of pages show up in the listings!  One or more of these listings may very well contain information on the ancestor we are looking for, but who has time to wade through thousands of pages?  Surfing online for surnames can be fun, but very time consuming, and often unrewarding.  Typing a surname into a search engine will bring up almost any page on the Internet that contains that name.  This can include company names, Webmaster names, names from online membership rosters, etc.  These pages are usually not the ones we are looking for.

The search doesn't get any easier when you are looking for genealogy how-to information. Spelling genealogy correctly seems to be one of the hardest things for beginners to learn. Therefore, if you are searching for pages with genealogy information, you also have to search for geneology, geniology, geneaology, geneologie, genlogy, etc. It's almost enough to make you pull your hair out!

So just how do we go about finding the pages with the information for which we are looking?  It is all in how you work with the search engines.  Different search engines require different search techniques, but there are a few tricks that you can learn which will work for the majority of them.  There are also a number of ways to restrict your search to pages which are primarily genealogically oriented, which can drastically cut down on the number of "garbage" sites in your search results.   These techniques will help you to focus your search, and spend much less time wading through non-relevant pages.

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