Tuesday’s Tip: Expand Your Google Search Horizons

The default number of results per page that Google returns is 10. But how often do you click through to the ensuing pages? When you’re searching for someone on the web from their Ancestry.com profile, if this setting is the default, often 10 results is all you get. You can fix this though.

You will have to make a choice. Is it more important to you that Google tries to guess what you’re typing and brings up results as you key in your search terms? This is called Google Instant and you must turn off this feature in order to return a higher number of results per page.

To do so, click on the little gear on the Google homepage (it’s next to your name, if you’re logged in to Gmail or another Google service). Select ‘Search Settings.’

Under Google Instant, select the radio button for ‘Do not use Google Instant.’

Now you should be able to select how many search results you’d like to have appear under the Number of Results section. I selected 100. Think about how many more results you may peruse and discover if they’re all on one page!

Note: I first learned about this trick from super-sleuth Cynthia Hetherington at one of her training sessions and changed my search preferences accordingly several months ago. I noticed that with the recent Google redesign, the number of search results per page defaulted back to 10 per page, so I changed it back. Now, when I search for someone on the web from their Ancestry.com profile, I get lots more results at my fingertips.

Tuesday’s Tip: Local History News Alerts

This past weekend, there was a huge celebration in the town of Easton, Md., surrounding the placement of a sculpture of Frederick Douglass in front of the Talbot County Courthouse. Douglass once gave a very famous address on the steps of that courthouse.

The events this weekend got me thinking about the likelihood of similar events taking place in towns across the country. With all of the patriotic holidays during the summer, there are many celebrations of local and national history throughout the country during this season.

Local newspapers tend to preview such events with articles about area history. What a great way to learn about the hometowns of your ancestors! Might your ancestor get a mention? Here’s one way to find out: set up a Google News Alert for your ancestors’ hometowns and add keywords like ‘history’ to the search string.

Use the AROUND operator to make results more relevant. When I did a search for “San Antonio” and “history,” the results weren’t what I’d hoped for. I changed the search string to ‘”san antonio” AROUND(5) history’ (meaning where ‘history’ appears within five words of ‘San Antonio’) and got much better results.

You can add other keywords to the search string too. Were your ancestors farmers? Miners? Play around with other keywords to narrow your results.

I had trouble getting relevant results from one of my searches. You can click on Advanced Search to narrow the results by source location OR by coverage of a certain location.

I tried out a Google News search for one of my ancestral hometowns, Elizabethton, Tenn. I typed ‘Elizabethton Tennessee history’ into the search bar. The results varied from calendar items for workshops at local history landmarks to an article on local sports history. I set up a news alert so that future articles about the area come to my attention.

When you set up the news alert, you are presented with a number of options that will affect the results you receive. You can have the alert cover everything from blogs to video. I usually select “Everything” from the Type drop-down menu. Likewise, I also select “All Results” under Volume.

I have dozens of news alerts set up for my day job, and I find it can be overwhelming to receive all of those emails. Since I already have Google Reader set up for keeping track of genealogy blogs, I elected to receive these local history updates in my feed there, rather than receiving still more email.

Don’t forget to navigate around the Google News results using the menu on the left. I hit Archives and found articles about presidential candidate Herbert Hoover visiting Elizabethton in 1928. Another article, from 1957, detailed the homecoming of conjoined twins (joined at the head, no less), who had been successfully separated just in time to return home for Christmas that year. Note that some of the archive hits may require payment to view the full article, depending on the publication.

None of these stories involve my ancestors, but what great snapshots of local happenings over the years.

It also pays to search for county names and not just town names. I found this article on a flood that swept through Elizabethton (spelled ‘Elizabethtown’ in this article, which is why it didn’t show up in my previous search) in 1901 by searching for “Carter County.” Surely my ancestors were affected by this flood.

Another interesting find was this reprint of a letter by Abraham Lincoln.

Another bonus to performing these searches is you may discover newspapers you didn’t know existed. This could lead to more fruitful searching later on.

Tuesday’s Tip: Inserting Images in GoogleDoc Spreadsheets

For the Friends Album, I created a spreadsheet to keep track of the various images and data I’ve assembled about each. One of my goals was to be able to sort the spreadsheet by location, photographer, etc. Imagine my frustration when I first sorted the spreadsheet and the photos didn’t sort with the rows.

I had initially populated the spreadsheet with images by using the menu command Insert -> Image and then resizing each image to fit the designated cell. I’m not quite sure why this command exists, because it was pointless.

After the sort didn’t work, I did some research on how images really should be included in Google spreadsheets. I found this page, which was very helpful. Instead of using the menu command, using this formula embeds the image in the selected cell:

=image(“URL”)

It was a pain to go back and repopulate the spreadsheet with images the proper way, but at least now I can sort the rows and the photos will move with them!

Sorta Wordless Wednesday: Face Time

I created this short movie using the Movie from Faces function in Picasa, which I learned how to do at RootsTech in Geoffrey Rasmussen’s session on “Digital Images for Genealogists”:

"Face" Movie created using Picasa -- links to YouTube video.

As Geoffrey pointed out in his session, the photos in the video overlap using the eyes in each photo as the focal point.

This didn’t work perfectly. I was annoyed when I loaded Picasa onto my computer and it wouldn’t let me upload photos just from one folder — I had to let it search either my entire computer or a large subset.

Also, a couple of the photos that I uploaded to Picasa weren’t recognized as faces (even after retouching to try and make them clearer) and so weren’t included in the movie. It was still fun to try out this technique though. I think it’s a neat way to show the progression of time in a person’s life. I could have added captions to the photos and recorded audio to go with the movie as well.

Here’s how to create your own version:

  1. Install Picasa on your computer.
  2. Upload the photos you want included in the movie.
  3. Select the photos and then select Create–>Movie–>Movie from Faces in Selection
  4. You can preview the movie, edit the photos and reorder them. Once you have it to your liking, click Finish Movie and then you can export it or upload it to YouTube.

SNGF: Better Google Search

Dear Reader: Do you think you are related to the individuals listed in this post? Please drop me a note! I love hearing from cousins and others researching my family!

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to play along with Saturday Night Genealogy Fun. Here’s this week’s task:

“1)  Go to genea-blogger Ramdy Majors website (http://www.randymajors.com/).

2)  Add his blog to your RSS reader, if you don’t have it already.

3) Read his blog post AncestorSearch using Google Custom Search – BETA.  See the link at the top of the page that says “AncestorSearch using Google Custom Search – BETA?”  Click on it.

4)  Test out his Custom Google Search form to help you find online information about your ancestors, especially for their marriages.

5)  Tell us about your results – was this useful? Did you find something new?  How can Randy improve it?

6)  If you like Randy’s Custom Search, add it to your Bookmarks or Favorites.”

Searching the first few generations back (on my mom’s side at least) didn’t net much, but that’s to be expected because not a lot of recent records are online. I did find someone else’s Family Tree Maker site, mentioning my paternal grandparents and their marriage. Otherwise, I was finding my own blog posts mentioning my ancestors’ names.

I came across an Ancestry.com message board about my Corley line, but it’s one I’ve seen and commented on before.

What’s this? I entered in my great-great-grandparents, Benjamin William Franklin Corley and Lois Wakefield, and one of the results was for a domain called “sortedbyname.com.” This site listed marriage records and pointed to original source records. For this particular couple, I was sent to the Illinois Statewide Marriage Index. However, when I searched the index for both of their names, nothing came up. When I searched just for his name, I came up with a marriage record, but with a different woman! Hmmmm… and it’s before Lois died… More work is needed here.

Incidentally, when I type in just Lois’ name, I do find the record for her and Benjamin. The reason why it didn’t show up under his name is because he was only listed by his first initials.

Returning to my mother’s line, my great-grandfather Herman Wild (Sr.)’s FindaGrave memorial came up. While it doesn’t contain a photo of his gravestone, it does include a transcript of his obituary. This includes a wealth of information including his cause of death, employment info, street address and the names of several relatives.

Surname Saturday: CORLEY (Virginia, Illinois and Iowa)

I have posted the various surnames I am investigating on Twitter on a few different Surname Saturdays. Today, I decided to be a bit more proactive and seek out others investigating the same lines. Today’s post will be about what I discovered about the CORLEY line in Virginia, where we can be traced back to the 1600s, Illinois and Iowa.

I tried some searches on Twitter specifically and didn’t find anyone else looking for Corley line information, but there sure are a ton of other Corleys of various ilks on Twitter!

I’ve been avoiding searches on Google lately now that I’m subscribing to several genealogy databases/services and because Google can often send you on a wild goose chase. Still, there are juicy tidbits to be found if you’re patient and know what to look for. The following are what I found via basic Google searches combining the family name, place names and sometimes the word ‘genealogy’ to help narrow results.

CORLEY (Virginia)
I rediscovered the Corley winery, to which I am assured I am related by other Corleys. Their site even refers to my immigrant ancestor, Richard Corley the Immigrant. I haven’t been to California to try the wine and have never seen it in stores out this way. There’s another Corley vineyard in Colorado, but I’ve never heard that we’re related to that one…

I found this link for queries about the Corley clan: http://www.cousinconnect.com/p/a/0/s/CORLEY

Learned of a new possible variation: CORLIES

I found new (to me) web sites about Richard the Immigrant: http://home.windstream.net/jimcorley/descend.htm and http://www.deboriah.com/wordofgrace/genealogy/corley/Ancestors%20of%20Oscar%20Thomas%20Corleyby%20RevCrowe.doc

Found partial text of a book mentioning one of my ancestors — Valentine — parish records from Cumberland Co., Va. The full text is available at the Library of Congress.

CORLEY (Illinois)

Found the following compendia of links, which may warrant further investigation later:
http://www.linkpendium.com/genealogy/USA/sur/surc-C/surc-Cor/sur-Corley/

http://distantcousin.com/SurnameResources/Surname.asp?Surname=CORLEY

This site mentions Corley’s Ridge (would like to learn more about this) and Corley Cemetery (which I’ve investigated in the past): http://genealogytrails.com/ill/shelby/placenames.html

Here is another site about Shelby County, Ill., where the Corley’s resided for quite some time and where an annual reunion is still held ever year (I haven’t made it to one yet). http://www.histopolis.com/Place/US/IL/Shelby_County/

CORLEY (Iowa)

The Iowa Genealogical Society: http://www.iowagenealogy.org/index.htm

These results reminded me that there is a Corley, Iowa (Shelby Co. there as well). I haven’t established a firm connection between my Corley clan and this locale.

———————-
Additionally, I searched “richard corley ‘the immigrant'”

Yay for sources! http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~mysouthernfamily/myff/d0059/g0000053.html#I3137

Found full text of a book mentioning Richard Corley Jr. in St. Paul’s Parish (Va.).

Another site listing Corley descendants (but its source is no longer online) — http://mattocks2.wordpress.com/category/generation-12/003072-richard-corley/