Shauna Hicks: Good morning everyone. I always like to start with a techno boo-boo because that way it's over with.
This talk is not really 'Google your family tree tips and tricks'. It is on the USB you got as you came in the door. I checked it endlessly before I sent it in to PROV, what I didn't check was the title – it's actually 'Google: are you making the most of Google for your genealogy?' So the title is a bit wrong, it's still tips and tricks, but it's, the question I'm asking you in this talk is 'are you making the most of Google?' Most people use it, but are you making the most of it? So when you're looking at it at home, just remember the title's not quite right. I also have my own website. There's all sorts of things on there that might be of interest to you, including other talks I've done, and I also write two blogs which, I'll also be blogging this today as well.
So, moving on. What I'm going to do in the next 45 minutes is talk about a whole range of Google tools that I use. Now I could probably spend an hour talking about all of them. I've only got 45 minutes, so it's going to be a real skate through, but you can go home and you can play and you can use your own terms. So what we're basically going to be looking at are things like alerts, blogs, books, Google+, images and videos, language tools, the library, maps and Picasa. So do most people use all of those things? Well there's not too many hands up – so maybe half? Still not many hands, so I guarantee that all of you will get at least one thing from this talk.
Now for those of you who are not too familiar with Google, this is the home screen. It changes from time to time but generally speaking you have the menu up the top. Now they're the things that people use the most, but if you click on 'More', it will bring up a whole range of other tools you can use, and if you click on 'Even more', there's even more below that, which I'm not looking at today.
So you can't break Google, you can go home and play, but you cannot break it, so experiment. So that's where you find the bits and pieces, and if you want, normally when you log on, you go to google.com.au because we're all in Australia, but if you wanted to use google.com, which is the wider whole-world type of thing, you can just go down, and one of the things we're looking at in this is that you can change the domain you're searching in. So if you wanted google.com New Zealand, instead of 'au', you put 'nz'. So that's another little thing, you can search by domain as well.
Now, if you haven't got a Google account, it is free, it's very simple to set up, and it allows you to have a Gmail account, so you've got an extra email account that you can use for things. You can see over here there's more benefits to a Google account, so have a look at that at home. I'm not going to go into it, but you do get your Gmail address, you'll have a password and you sign in, and that allows you to go into a lot of the features that I'm talking about today which will enhance your family history.
Now, just a few things on searching: when you're doing Google, you're using a lot of filtering techniques. It's like an archaeology dig – you're sifting through to find all the really good stuff that may be buried under levels of rubbish. Now the 'www' is not necessarily the World Wide Web, it's 'who', 'when' and 'where'. They're the three w's that you're trying to find when you're searching through Google.
Now keywords, they're the main ingredient. You can use single – sometimes you get too many hits – and you can use multiple. It's not case sensitive – you don't have to worry about typing capitals or lower case – it's not case sensitive, so don't worry about that.
Now, the little tilde [~] symbol over there, a lot of people aren't quite aware of that. It usually lives on the top left of your keypad, but have a look for it on your particular machine, but that tilde, it means it will search for synonyms, it gives you a wider search, so not just genealogy, but it's searching family history, even though you haven't typed 'family history'. So it broadens your search just by using '~genealogy', it will get there. So I'll show you some examples of what I'm talking about.
Now looking at keywords again, as I said single – unless you've got a really sort of unusual surname or place name, it may be too general, but you can combine them. And as I mentioned earlier, it depends on domain name too, so if you swap to just using Australia, you're only searching the Australian domain, or New Zealand, Ireland: 'ei', whatever, UK, it's worth doing the search and doing it several different ways. Multiple keywords, that will allow you to find things, and it ignores common words, so it won't find things like 'a', 'and', 'if', 'or', 'the', 'then', 'how', 'when' – so don't type them in, except for when you're doing a particular search.
Now this is a Google query – I'm looking for the surname Gunderson, so there's eight-and-a-half million of them, obviously too much. If I put the tilde sign in with 'genealogy', that's saying I want everything on Gunderson genealogy. If I use 'AND' in capitals, it will look for 'and Brisbane'. So 'and' in lower case means nothing to Google; if you put it in capitals, it will tie the two terms together. So I'm now looking for 'Gunderson ~genealogy AND Brisbane', so that's telling Google I only want Gundersons in Brisbane, by putting it in capitals. Then, I only want the Australians, because my great-great-great-grandfather went to America in 1850, so I don't want the American ones, I just want the Australian ones, so I swap to pages from Australia, drops to 6890, then I only want me, there's 268. So you can see that by filtering down, you get to a more manageable search. So when you go home, do that simple search strategy with your own names and places, and just see the difference, and the difference, it's quite staggering when you change from domains. But if you do swap to Australia, remember to swap back, because otherwise you're limiting your search for the rest of the world, so just remember to do that.
Now, there's a few other tricks with doing searches. If you've got a common name, Henry Spencer, if you put it in inverted commas, it keeps the two words together. So it's not Henry and Spencer, it's 'Henry Spencer', it will only look for that together. Now I could have put 'AND' in here, but West Bromwich is so unusual Google will find it anyway. But if it had been Brisbane, I would have put 'AND' in capitals to tie it together, but this was looking for Henry Spencer in West Bromwich. It comes up with a whole lot of information because this was one of my brick walls that I was trying to break down, so a lot of this early stuff here is me looking for Henry, but down here, Google has actually gone into RootsWeb – all of those mailing lists for the last ten, 11, 12 years that are archived in RootsWeb, Google searches those, so if you do a search you may pick up someone who's been emailing, in this case 2009, about Henry Spencer from West Bromwich. So you immediately then click on that link because it's obviously the same person that you're looking for, and it's an email from someone, and yes it is the same, and they're up on Runaway Bay. Now we couldn't find Henry because he had two other wives in Queensland; we were looking for him in South Australia and Tasmania, didn't know about the other two in Queensland. So that solved my brick wall, by doing that Google search and contacting this person.
Now if you want to, and I haven't got time today to go into RootsWeb archives, but if you go into the RootsWeb ancestry site, go down the mailing list on that front screen, and then look for the archives search, it will search all of the mailing lists. You might subscribe to one or two, you can't read them all, but the archives, you can search them all in a single search. So that again is worth doing because there's lots of people who have been putting their queries on for the last decade.
Now the six commands to master – we've looked at 'AND' – 'OR' is another one. So I can say 'Shauna Hicks AND Brisbane OR Melbourne OR Canberra' or wherever I've lived. 'OR' is another one. Or I could put 'Shauna Gunderson OR Hicks' and look at both, maiden name and married name. So think about 'OR' as another search option.
The minus symbol [-] is a take-away, so it's you don't want something, so I can have 'Shauna Hicks - Melbourne' and it means 'don't give me anything I've done in Melbourne'. The quotation marks we've covered, they keep the words together.
You can use a wild card [asterix], so if you don't know my middle name, you can put 'Shauna * Gunderson OR Hicks' and search. So again it's a matter of going home and doing these variations with a family and seeing what comes up. And of course, the tilde, so here's an example of that.
Now the other thing I've got here is, I've got surname first and then given name. We don't always know whether it's going to be given name or surname, or surname given name, so you may want to vary it that was as well. So I could have had Spencer Henry or Henry Spencer, so think about that as well.
Now the advanced search techniques, we'll have a quick look at an advanced search, and you can also search for particular file types. Now you can have a look for PDF files, or Word document kind of files, but the ones we're probably most interested in are GEDCOM type files, where people have put GEDCOM information on their families up on the web somewhere. So we'll have a look at GEDCOM files, and Google language tools are really good if you've got ancestors from a European background. Obviously with a name like Gunderson, which is Norwegian, I needed the language tools.
Now this is Helen Doxford Harris' website – a lot of you will know Helen, she has a number of indexes on her website. Now, you can search them individually, one-by-one if you want, but if you do an advanced search in Google, you can search them all at the same time, which saves an awful lot of time. You can put in your person name up there and then you just put in her website URL down here, and hit the search button and it will look at, or search for all the Booleans at that particular address. Now you can do that for PROV, the Queensland State Archives, a whole range of different websites and just see what comes up. You do need to look at the links when the search comes up, so it brought up two results in ten seconds, so instead of searching Helen's every index, I did it all in ten seconds, and then you look at those. Sometimes if it's a PDF file on a website, you do need to open up that PDF because there's more in it than what's in the link, okay. So don't just look at the link, if there's a PDF you need to open it up because there's more information inside it.
Now, pages from Australia or whatever country domain you're interested in, usually we're in the web, that's the default position. But if you just want to be searching Australia, New Zealand, whatever, click on that and it comes up here, so that's the clue that you're in that particular domain. And as I said, when you're finished, go back and click the web, otherwise if you're looking for someone in England, and you're in pages from Australia, you may not find what you're looking for.
So that's the clue there, so you can see I'm looking for Shauna Hicks, Brisbane, genealogy, file type PDF. So I'm looking for all the PDF talks that I've got up on various websites and you can see that they all sort of come up there as well. There's about 151 PDFs of mine up on the web, various places, and it took 18 seconds to find them all, so it can be quite an effective search strategy.
Now, you do the same sort of thing if you're looking for the file type GEDCOM, so it's just file type, colon and GED. Now I put in 'Seckington', which is one of my unusual family names – I knew I wouldn't find very much at all, and there was only the one, so it comes up very quickly. If I put in 'Jeffers, genealogy, file type, GEDCOM', there's 222 results because Jeffers is an Irish name and they went to the UK, America, Australia and whatever, and there's a whole lot of information on various Jeffers families there. So again, that can be an effective way to find people, researching the same family, just using the file type GED.
Now, you can get Google to do a lot of this searching for you while you sleep. Sounds terrific. Once you've got your Google account and you sign in, you can set up Google Alerts. So you go into Google Alerts, I just put in 'Seckington' in there, because that's an unusual name. I usually leave it 'everything' because I don't want Google to pick things for me. I do it once a day, otherwise it can become too big. I only want the best results and I want it to go to my Gmail address, so when Google finds something new on Seckington, it sends me an email. So I don't have to search for it anymore, Google will tell me there's something new about Seckington on the web. So that can save you a lot of time, for some of your more unusual names. I could put 'Spencer AND West Bromwich' in there and have a Google Alert. I also have a Google Alert on my name so I know who's using my name on what websites. But you can put all sorts of things in there for an alert.
Now when you are doing this, there's a little preview box on the side and it allows you to see the types of results that you would pull up with that particular search, so use the preview button just to check that it is an effective way to find what you're looking for. Now this is my Google Alert for Seckington – you can see I've got the '~genealogy', so it's everything about the Seckingtons and it's there. Now when Google does its alerts, it does it in the various orders of the different resources on the site, so up comes web first. You need to keep scrolling down because then it will cover images, video, blogs and whatever, so it doesn't just put it all in together, it's in the different categories, so you do need to keep scrolling down to see the different categories if there's something in them. But it can be quite good, so you can see there was three new results when I got that alert.
Now we're going to have a quick look at Google Blogs. Now there's lots and lots of blogs on the web these days, now if you just put in 'genealogy Australia', because I was just looking for blogs here, it comes up with a lot of, sometimes it's just advertising up the top you may not be interested in, so don't just look at the first few because that can just be advertising. But then it will get down to more serious ones, so you'll see here's Inside history magazine and it actually brings up my name in it because it must be one of the ones I've done an article in, and it also brings up my diary, and that's just doing genealogy in Australia and it's the way Google does its searches. But if you keep scrolling down, it'll bring up a whole range of blogs that people are writing. Now, why would you blog? You can use Google's Blogger, and I'm not really using it too much today, but it's free, you can set it up in two seconds basically, and you can write your family stories, and it goes on Google Blogger. But then when other people are searching Google, they will find your families and so many people in UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, have found some of my families and I've now been in contact with them and we're sharing information, so it's almost advertising your family interests, if you like, online.
So when you keep going down, you'll see that there's, you can search the blogs, here I'm looking for genealogy in Wiltshire, so here's some information on Wiltshire that appeared in the British GENES blog. You've got Irish genealogy, homepages for it, free Irish genealogy ebooks – there's all sorts of things and resources that you might turn up by looking through blogs, as well as if you write them yourself, but looking for them can also be worthwhile.
Now, I want to have a little look at Google Books. Now some of you may be aware that you can Google this digitising and some of them are free, some of them you can get snapshots, and some of them you have to pay for, just depending on the situation. But if you go into Google Books, you can look for books, magazines, you can break it down by the century, so you can go and look at just 19th century if you want, so just remember to follow the filters down the left-hand side of any Google page – it's a bit like using Trove, you can really filter it down.
Now when you find your Google Books and you download them, or any other ebook for that matter, you can put them in your library, you can have a virtual online library, you can even label your shelves. So here I'm looking for Wiltshire genealogy, there's 13,000 books I can work my way through to see if they're of interest, I could narrow that down by parish. So once you've found your Google Books and you've downloaded them for free, this is my library, so I can see that I've got some Google ebooks there, I haven't purchased any, I tend to try and do it for free if I can. I can review them, I can have favourites and I can read. Now this is an early snapshot, I've expanded it since then but I decided that if I was going to talk about my library, I didn't really want to see what everyone, didn't want everyone to see what I was reading, so I've kept it private by just using this original screen.
Now this one is a history of Norwegian immigration to the United States, so that one is of interest to me because my great-great-great-grandfather went there in 1850. So I downloaded that, I can put it in my library, I can add it, I can remove it, I can do all those sorts of things. But even better, you can search inside it, so you can then put your search terms, I can put his place name, I can put their given name, surnames, all those sorts of things and it will search it for me. And, like any good librarian, it also suggests other books of the same kind to save you searching, so as well as the one I found, it also says these are all related and you might be interested in those as well. So its saving you time by suggesting things that you're obviously looking for. Then, as I said, it does search it, so it will bring it up, and then it even highlights it, they went to Minnesota. So you can see there's people's names, there's dates, place names and so you get the results, quite simple. So it's an easy way to search an online book if it's in your library, and then of course you get to save all those changes and print them out and all that sort of thing. So Google Books can be worthwhile.
Now having a look at Google language tools, Google can translate basically anything from English to whatever, and whatever to English, so it can be good for those European families. Now, it's not perfect and it is free and it's a starting point. I did it with some of my Norwegian documents and it was sufficiently good enough to tell me I should get them, pay for someone to translate them because the information was worthwhile. If you're corresponding with non-English people, English-speaking people, you can work out what the words are and incorporate those into your emails, and it's also good when you're doing your searches because if I'm looking for cemeteries in Norway, if I use the word cemetery, they have no idea what I'm talking about. So I can look up what the Norwegian word for cemetery is, or church, and then use that in my searches and it makes a big difference. And of course it will also translate the whole of the webpage, but not the records within it, so for example all the Norwegian parish registers, census and that have all been digitised and placed online for free, so all the text around that I can read in English, but the old Norwegian handwriting is still old Norwegian handwriting. Even Google hasn't worked out to translate that yet. So what you can do, you can translate text, webpages, interface with your own language. So here's the Norwegian paragraphs and that that I had in a particular book, I typed it all in there and I said 'translate to English' and here it gives me some dates, it tells me ages, tells me some values for money, it's about the farm they had in Norway, so I knew it was an important document and I got it officially translated. So it's a good starting point.
Now this is where you can find out, you translate 'church' into whatever language you want, 'cemetery', and then you put, that's the parish they came from, that's the cemetery and that's the church, so you see I'm looking for anything under parish of Seljord for the cemetery or the church and it brings up 11,300 results. Now I'm going to swap over now from documents into images because most people tend to just do documents, they don't think about looking for images. So even though I might want documents relating to this particular search, I'm going to hit 'images'. If you hit 'everything', documents and that come first, images are way down and nobody scrolls that many pages, so hit 'images', sorry I'll just, hold the thought on images – this is the Norwegian archives site and you can see that they've got the various census, church records and that, and it's all in Norwegian. I hit the 'translate' button up the top and it turns it into English, so I can see there's the census, there's the probates, the court records, the parish registers, so all the surrounding text, I now know that I'm searching in the parish registers, not the census or the probate, so it can be useful for that kind of turning the website around.
Now we're back to images. So there's my search that I'm looking for the cemetery or the church, that's the church, they're buried there and they have a headstone there, and they've been there since 1690. You can see the cemetery in snow or in summer when there's no snow and you get all sorts of different images and there's actually 3660 results there, so if you've never looked for images of your particular parish, church, cemetery or whatever, overseas, do that search tonight. You'll be surprised at what might come up. What was I going to add? Oh, just like any Google page, you can look for black and white, you can look for colour, you can look for small or whatever, so have a look and vary your searches, particularly if you get too many hits.
Now Google Images and Video – just about everyone these days has a digital camera, some have personal scanners. The search specifics still apply, whether you're searching for a document or an image. If you use your keywords and add your filters you'll get quite good results. I use them particularly for finding videos or podcasts and that sort of thing, for places that my people came from so I can see what they looked like. We'll have a look at some examples – so again, I've just put in 'Maldon Victoria' and I've clicked on 'images', which is why images come up first, because it's a specific image. Now the point that I want to make with this slide is not everything is in Picture Australia or on Trove. A lot of people, when they're looking for images these days, they go straight to Picture Australia which is now in Trove, they don't think about Google Images, so a lot of this in not in Trove, so remember not to be too narrow when you're searching.
Now, if I just look for me in Google I will find me, but there are also other people who aren't me, so you'll obviously get that with everything. Now this one is me, that's my great-great-grandmother Mariah Jeffers and her boyfriend Abraham who was about 30 years younger than her. She is there because I blogged about her and it was read by the family back in Ireland, over in Massachusetts in the US and in Sydney and it reunited the siblings from her generation and they picked it up because I had put in the metadata my own name. So if you are placing photos up on the web, have it so that there's a link back to you and people can come back to you. This one, Family tree magazine, I was writing articles for it and so she had my name on her image and that's why it comes up there. So play with your images because it may be that someone's put your great-great-grandmother up on a log somewhere and you can see an image.
Now placing your content online – as I said you really need to have a precise trail of breadcrumbs. You want them to find you and they want to find you so you need to have that contact. Your file names and your descriptions matter, you can't just have image numbers. You need to call your files or photos a particular name that will be found, so I've got 'Jeffers Mariah' and it comes up in a search. So think about how you're naming your files and particularly if you're putting them up online. So when I have a search for 'Mariah Jeffers' up she comes, again just in images and a whole range of other things that probably have no relationship to it, but what also comes up further down as you scroll through, there's my great-grandparents Thomas and Elizabeth Price. Now the reason they come up in Mariah's search is because I put the same metadata with my name on it, so all my photos have got 'Shauna Hicks' on them, they all come back and they link together. That's the cover of one of my books, that's my mother just before her father died in 1938. That's my father and grandparents. All of those photos have appeared in blogs and they come up because they're all linked to my name and it doesn't matter which people do searches they will all come back to me, so it can be quite a powerful tool to combine putting images and blogs and family stories online.
Now Google Video – a lot of people just use YouTube because it's the one that everybody uses, but Google Video has a range of videos that are not on YouTube. YouTube only has YouTube videos, Google Video has YouTube and all other videos. So you can see, here I've said if you're looking for the podcast, State Library Victoria will come up under Google Video but if they haven't put them up under YouTube they won't go, they won't come back in that particular search. So be aware that you should search broadly and then more narrowly.
Now type of content, well I like the personal vacation ones, the one I found was someone had gone to Portadown where Mariah Jeffers had come from and they went around all the streets of Portadown taking photos and blogged about it, so it was like me going to Portadown through someone else's eyes. There might be town or village tours, civic events, parades, festivals, sometimes they may be in a native language and there's a lot of genealogy how-to videos, you can actually sort of learn as you go with some of these things.
Now this is YouTube. Montrose, the High Street of Scotland, this is another family that came from the High Street in Montrose, so I can watch that video and see what the street looks like today. I could also get on a plane and go over there, but that's a little bit more expensive, this is a quick and cheaper option. So think about looking for a video of a place that your people came from. If you go into YouTube and you look for the genealogy channels, these are, there's lots of them, absolutely lots of them and you can listen in to webinars, you can look, read all sorts of blogs through the genealogy channels. If there's a conference in America you want to go to but you can't get there for whatever reason or you can't afford it, a lot of times they put the sessions online through YouTube and you can sit at home as if you were at the conference. So there's a lot of information in that particular area. If I'm looking for family history education in Australia and I'm looking for videos, pages from Australia, here you'll pick up the State Library of Victoria podcasts and this today is also being recorded, so you can listen to it as well as look at the slides on the USB. So there's a lot there, and not everything is on YouTube, here's Andrew Lemon last year and Patricia Grimshaw the year before, so you can find these things.
Now just very quickly, Picasa. I could spend probably hours talking about Picasa, it's free, it's a Google tool that interacts with everything. You can download it and the one thing that I want to talk about is facial recognition. I found it amazing that I could put all my photos through Picasa and it would identify them for me and all I had to do was confirm. So this is my darling son in his various transformations over the years, and even if it's really dark and horrible photo, it can still pick him and puts his name on it. So I did a whole lot of my photos within minutes just with the facial recognition. This is my partner, so here's three, they weren't sure it was him because of the sunglasses. So it's got three suggestions and if I confirm all it just puts his name against it. So don't confirm all unless you've had a look because sometimes you do, it does make mistakes, but you can do it. There's lots of things you can do in Picasa, but the facial recognition really, it amazes me.
Flickr, you can put your own photos up online through Flickr, that's older photos not just modern photos if you don't want to do blogs and again, I've just used the example 'Victorian goldfields' and you can see some people have been putting up older photos and then of course, if you find the same person, you can contact them via Flickr. And Flickr is also searchable through Trove, so a lot of these things are now being collaboratively searched and you can find a lot of information very quickly. Here, when I go into that particular photo, tells you it's circa 1880 and it belongs to his particular photostream and he's put it in these various albums, so have a look.
Google Maps and Earth, again a huge area, it allows you to search maps and explore. So the one I'm doing is a search near a location: Farley in Wiltshire. Sorry, I'll just show you Seljord first, this is in Norway, you can see it's up in the mountains, there's photos over there and I can go from the satellite to a map, so I can see the road in and the roads out. It allows you to get that dimensional geographic look as well as the photos. That's Google Street View – any address you get in a census, you can put that in and see if the house or whatever is still there. This is just where I currently live for another month and you can see the house. So do a search on your own street just to get a feel for it. This is the High Street in Angus, 24 High Street is where they were in the census and so I put it in and could be the same townhouse they were living in, you'd have to see if that was built around the 1880s to 1890s. But you can do that kind of thing. And this is just searching for the cemetery at Farley, it brings up the cemetery first, you've got real-time view, you can move the mouse and drive in and around and you can go along Church Road, it's amazing. But Google Earth, it's one of those things you really need about an hour if you haven't used it before, but well worthwhile.
Google+ is like Facebook, you can sign up, you can have all your friends, genealogy friends is the ones I mainly talk to, so I might say I'm going to Family History Feast today, put it up there, people might have a discussion. As I said, it's like Facebook, but sometimes you can also get some real information from it. So by scrolling through some of what people are writing, here's some webinars, Dick Eastman's newsletter, has lots of updates. It's a way of sharing information that is just genealogy-related if you have a Google+ genealogy circle, so Google is expanding all the time, it's a very brief overview of some of those things which I just want to plant the seed in your minds and you can go away and ask your local society to run a course on Google Earth or on Picasa or whatever because they're well worth knowing more about the ins and outs. You can experiment, you can't break it, there are a whole lot of features I didn't even mention today and you could spend the rest of your life on the computer, but we won't because I know Anne wants to move on to the next speaker. But remember, have fun and thank you.
'The "www" is not necessarily the World Wide Web – it's "who", "when" and "where". They're the three w's that you're trying to find when you're searching through Google.'
– Shauna Hicks
About this recording
Pick up tips and tricks from family historian Shauna Hicks as she discusses how to make the most of Google's free tools to research your family's history.
This talk was presented as part of Family History Feast 2012.
Shauna Hicks is an expert family history research specialist, with a special interest in Australian and New Zealand genealogy.