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A Guide to Performing Online Genealogy Searches

This brief articles covers how to perform an ancestral search using the Genealogy Search Engine. See the article Genealogy Search Engine FAQs to find what types of records are covered by the search engine.

This concise article is designed to help you get the most out of your ancestral searches using the free Genealogy Search Engine and Family Tree Search Engine. Our two dedicated genealogy search engines are the most powerful free ones available on the internet. Combined, they search billions of free online genealogy records from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. There are also records from the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, Middle East and Latin America.

All the search terms mentioned in this article also apply to Google. The Genealogy Search Engine and the Family Tree Search Engine are just like Google, but work specifically for genealogy. They concentrate on 1,000+ websites known to contain genealogy records.

Use the Genealogy Search Engine to find ancestral records and use the Family Tree Search Engine to see if anyone else is talking about your ancestors through online genealogy forums and family trees.

Most people tend to focus their initial effort on the Genealogy Search Engine and then consult the Family Tree Search Engine when they are looking for fresh leads.

For genealogists, the most common search elements are names, places and dates. We will go through each of these search elements to show you how you can build progressively more complex genealogy searches.

Name Search

Start by entering the name of your ancestor. If you get too many search results, try putting double quotes around the name. This tells the search engine to look for the exact name in the exact order that you specify.

For example, if you were looking for John Smith then you would type:

Many genealogy records are listed in the order of <last name, first name>. Therefore, when looking for John Smith you should also look for:

Fill in the Blanks (*)

The (*) or wildcard is used when you are uncertain about the spelling of a name or place. For example, the last name Smith can have many different spelling variations (Smith, Smyth, Smythe, etc.). You use the asterisk as a placeholder for these unknown spellings, as shown below:

One thing to note about using (*) is that it can be used as a placeholder for several letters at once. Therefore, a search for

would produce results for names like John Smithwright, etc.

The (*) can also be used to substitute for entire words, such as a middle name. Looking for

would produce John Smith records where a middle name or a middle initial is present.

At GenealogyInTime Magazine, we are big believers in continuous improvement. We constantly strive to improve our search engines to make them more powerful and easier to use.

Since we first introduced them at the beginning of 2011, our two search engines have gone through several major upgrades. They have now become the most powerful free genealogy search engines on the internet. For example, the Genealogy Search Engine is the only search engine in the genealogy world that is capable of searching Google's massive historic newspaper archive.

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