Searching for surnames online

Diana
Diana Tibert
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One of the first things I did when I began using the Internet for genealogy was search for my surname on-line. For me, it was like looking in a phone book to find others living in a particular community with the same last name. However, the results were quite different because I was searching the world instead of a community.

One of the first things I did when I began using the Internet for genealogy was search for my surname on-line. For me, it was like looking in a phone book to find others living in a particular community with the same last name. However, the results were quite different because I was searching the world instead of a community.

I am always surprised when I hear others havent taken advantage of this type of search. With a few tips, searches can be productive.

For example, searching for Tibert with goolge.ca (http://www.google.ca/), generates about 170,000 results. Thats a lot of web pages and my name is uncommon. Many of these results have nothing to do with genealogy.

To reduce this number, add one of the common genealogy words in the search box: born, married or died. When searching with Tibert born, only 1,650 results are generated and practically everyone is related to genealogy. Only 943 results were found for Tibert died and Tibert married generated 753 results.

Since pages are added to the Internet everyday, it was no surprise that when I researched for this column and performed these searches again, new information was found. Usually, I set aside one night every few months to perform a surname search and I am never disappointed.

The Tibert surname is fairly easy to search. The common name, McDonald, is another story. Who wants to wade through millions of results? Key words are essential to chopping this down to a reasonable number.

For example, using McDonald born creates 1,430,000, down from the 59,000,000 found searching with McDonald alone. Narrow the search area by adding a country (Canada: 1,160,000), a province (Nova Scotia: 399,000; NS: 450,000) or a community name (Amherst: 227,000). Each time you add a key word, results decrease.

Generally, I check only the first three or four pages of results. If I dont find what I want, I add or change a key word to fine-tune my search.

Be careful when adding key words; too many might eliminate results that might be useful.

For example, you can search for Amherst, N.S., but a search should also be performed with Amherst. Some web pages may not have N.S. noted because the home page might state, McDonalds of Nova Scotia.

Keywords can also be intentionally excluded as well by using the minus sign (-). For example, McDonald born NS -Ireland creates 277,000 results. There is no space between the minus sign and the keyword that is to be ignored.

Dont ignore the Did you mean: line at the top of the search results. Surnames have been spelled many ways over the centuries and not everyone spell checks their website.

While you are searching, youll visit dozens of websites. Keep track of the useful ones either in bookmarks or in a word document.

Of course, if you are interested in just searching in phone books, you can do that, too. Although not completely up-to-date, Canada 411 (http://www.canada411.ca/) has data from all phone books in Canada.

Researchers File

Who were Anne Pineos parents? Where was she born and where was she buried? Anne was born in c.1797 probably in N.S. She married Captain William Brewster in c.1797 and lived in N.B. in 1798. Is she the Brewster widow living at Harvey Bank, NB in 1851? Contact: William J. Brewster, 459 Rt. 915, Harvey, N.B. E4H 3S5.

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Diana Lynn Tibert has been searching for her family names on the Internet since 1999. Submit queries to the Researchers File: RR#1 Milford, Hants County, NS B0N 1Y0; email: tibert@ns.sympatico.ca

Organizations: Canada 411, Harvey Bank

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Amherst, Canada Ireland Hants County

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