- The MINUS sign helps get rid of those annoying irrelevant sources. With Sticklepath there are several other places with the same name. My searches improved dramatically when I learned to put “-Barnstaple” as part of the search. I am sure the people of Sticklepath Barnstaple are lovely but I am not looking for them! The Minus needs to be right next to the word you want to exclude. This also helps if you are looking for someone of a specific name and the wrong person keeps coming up, if they live elsewhere or have a middle name exclude that. If you were looking for a Mr Preacher for example putting -Rev might help. Looking for Mrs Middle put in -East. These tips work for non-genealogy Google searches too!
- Wildcard STAR *** Using this can help with name variations. A single star can represent none, one or more letters. So Finch is not uncommonly mistyped French. Putting F*nch will find them. This can apply to place names too With longer words the wildcard star can be used more than once.
- QUOTATION marks searching for “Jane Brown” and then for “Brown, Jane” avoids the results with a brown cow and Jane Smith. Search engines like Google try to help – if you search for an obituary they bring up death related items. Putting single words in quotation marks like “Obituary” can help limit results to ones containing the specific word.
- Dates – You can search on Google for a specific date range, ie pages that include one of the years within the range. Add DATE..DATE in the search box. For example 1600..1750
- You can do a sophisticated search on Google asking it to find one word within so many words of another word and/or within so many words of a specific year. “William Middle” AROUND(6) Kate AROUND(9) 1902. Google will look for the precise name William Middle within 6 words of Kate within 9 words of 1902.
- If one family member has an unusual name search for them first
- Search without using the surname for example look for the place and event with a year but no name (or use just the spouses name).
- Look on the site itself for search tips eg https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/content/help. Not all search engines work the same so not all ‘tricks’ work with all searches. Wildcards for example may be a different symbol.
- In Genealogy sites a general search often misses many potential sources. Look for the catalogue or list of sources. Find an individual source and search in that source.
- Before you give up (and preferably much earlier) look at the research guides at The National Archive: https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/help-with-your-research/ or your County Archive. They are usually extremely helpful in directing you to find the item you need, if it exists, and telling you if it doesn’t!
Further Search Tips From:
http://Amy Johnson Crow Search tips. “5 Online Search Strategies Every Genealogist Should Know”