Recently, I attended WebSearch University in Washington, D.C. The conference is geared toward research professionals of all ilks. I attended pre-conference workshops on public records and finding business information in the “deep web” (those sites that aren’t indexed/searchable by services like Google). I learned about how to search without leaving a trace. There were sessions on Big Data, MOOCs, multimedia searches and other online resources. I was attending on behalf of the engineering company that I work for full-time, but a list of tools that I could put to use as a genealogist came to light as well. Here’s just some of what I learned:
Death Indexes Online — divided by state; online searchable death indexes and records. (Interesting side note: I found out about this resource in a session taught by a Department of Justice researcher who LOVES to use FindaGrave to search for next of kin in cases where there are assets to disperse.)
Western States — have an ancestor who lived in The West? This BYU-established resource may have marriage information for them.
GenWed — marriage records arranged by states
VitalRec.com — comprehensive database providing access to birth, marriage and death records.
Geonames.usgs.gov — this place name repository provided by the USGS can help you identify the county in which a place your ancestor lived in or frequented is located
NETROnline — find what public records are available online for a particular location
Public Records Search Directory — another resource divvied up by state and topic
Google tip — search for your ancestor by searching for “lastname firstname” AND “firstname lastname” to make sure you are finding all records (a good tip for other databases too)
Another Google note: I learned that Google disabled the use of the tilda (~) for searching back in June when it did away with almost 70 different services. At an earlier genealogy conference, I had learned to add ‘~genealogy’ to search terms on Google to help narrow results to only those that would be relevant to genealogy. According to Google, their built-in synonymizer should provide the same function, but you lose control over the search by turning it over to them. Just a word of caution.
Black Book Online — a site geared towards private investigators that may also prove useful to forensic genealogists and others trying to find living relatives