"Our Loose Ends" Genealogy Column
by Lynna Kay Shuffield
Houston, Texas

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Printed in the Taylor Daily Press - 2 August 2001

“Get Ready, Start Your Engines”

One of my readers in Austin asked me to talk about how to use Internet search engines effectively. Over the last few years, they have become numerous and sophisticated.

When genealogists use Internet search engines to locate webpages of interest, they often find thousands of websites that are irrelevant. Using advance search features will help you to filter out the unwanted websites. Hopefully, these websites and techniques will help you to make your searching more efficient.

How do you search? First, you just type in a few descriptive words into the query box and hit the ENTER button on your keyboard or SEARCH button on the screen and links to relevant websites will appear.

If you are performing a specific search, you can search on an exact phrase by using quote marks at the beginning and end of the phrase. For example, if you enter “Henry W. Cave” you should only receive links to websites that have this exact phrase. However, you should also consider searching for “Henry Cave” or “H. W. Cave” because when you use quotes, search engines do not include any other selections.

For a full discussion and complete resource website for search engines techniques, visit SearchEngine.com http://www.searchengines.com/. This is a great website for beginners, a must have link for libraries and students.

Today, I will profile several search engines to help you locate information. Alltheweb http://www.alltheweb.com/ has a wonderful “Advance Search” feature that allows you to ask for exact phrases and include or exclude additional word filters to the search request. Click on the phrase “Advance Search” on the main page and experiment. For me personally, Alltheweb seems to produce some of the best results.

Altavista http://www.altavista.com/ AltaVista is quickest major search engine to get updates, with new website submissions appearing within just a few days.

Google http://www.google.com/ also has an “Advance Search” option and when you click to that page, it also has “Advance Search Tip” on how to refine your searching

Yahoo http://www.yahoo.com/ has a search engine as well as a “People Search” feature that allows you to look for telephone numbers and addresses. Also, I have found that Yahoo seems to have the lowest number of bogus and junk webpages. The reason for this is each and every website included on Yahoo has been reviewed by a human.

InfoSpace http://www.infospace.com/ not only has a powerful search engine but also has sections for genealogy & heraldry as well as public records.

PeopleSpot http://www.peoplespot.com/ is a free information resource center and it allows you to quickly and easily find address & telephone numbers; genealogy tools, including census, obituaries, cemeteries; alumni, military & family networks; and more.

There are search engines where you must pay a subscription fee to use.

Publicdata.com http://www.publicdata.com/ allows you to search the Texas Drivers’ Licenses, car license plate & VIN numbers, and Voters’ Registration Databases. Publicdata’s fees for an individual accounts range from about $9 to $20 per year depending on the type of service you select

Lastly, there are search engines you can add to your personal websites that allows visitors to search your website. I prefer FreeFind http://www.freefind.com/ for my websites. It can be added to any website in just a few minutes and most importantly, it is free!

Go, get your search engines warmed up and let me know what you find!

In this column, I will be glad to highlight and review any family history, genealogy, county history, or similar book, free of charge, if you donate a copy of the book or item. After it has been highlighted and reviewed, on a space available basis, it will be donated to the genealogy section of a library. You will receive an acknowledgment of the donation from the library. Mail item or book to me at the below address.

Lynna Kay Shuffield has written several books related to Texas genealogy and military history. She has spoken before numerous genealogy and veterans groups. Also, is a County Coordinator for the Texas GenWeb Project. Regretfully, she cannot help with individual genealogical research. Please visit the website for this column at: http://www.geocities.com/lks_friday/COLUMN-001.htm or if you have any questions, comments, suggestions for column topics, genealogy or historical society announcements, please contact her at: P. O. Box 16604, Houston, Texas 77222-6604 or e-mail: lksfriday@sbcglobal.net

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This webpage was last created on 29 Aug 2001 and was last revised on ___________ 2001

Copyright © 1999, 2001 Lynna Kay Shuffield - All rights reserved.
P. O. Box 16604
Houston, Texas 77222-6604