13 May 2010

What's With All The Tools?

Hopefully, I'm not overloading my blog, but, I want you to know how to use the tools that you find here...and then use them!

So lets take a look at each one and see how they can be of benefit to you.

First of all, take a look at the "Genealogy Blogs - News Feed" to the right, in the center column. Any kind of a web feed or news feed is a data format used to to display frequently updated content. This is similar to when you "like" someone on Facebook, or you subscribe to a newsletter through email, or you have messages sent to your mobile phone. In this case, I subscribe to a variety of Genealogy/Family History related blogs and put them into this feeder. All the blog articles automatically feed at the same time that the various blogs post their articles. The newest ones always go to the top, and, only one feed is shown for each blog. So if someone posts three different articles in an hour, only the most current one will display. The blog articles listed at the bottom of the feed may be months old. So every time you access my blog you will see updated content from all the listed blogs. I try to stick to the more generic blogs, rather than those that focus on a specific location or family.

At the bottom of the Blog feed you will find several tools and another type of widget with a feed.

I recently added a feed to the Mormon Times supplement to the Deseret News. The Mormon Times frequently has genealogy/family history articles that I think many of you would like to read. With this particular widget you need to double click on the Mormon Times.com line of text. That will open the feed and then you can click on the little blue icons to go directly to the article. (I'm going to try to streamline this process in the future.)

The first tool is the Google Book search box. Google Books is a service from Google that searches the full text of books that Google has scanned, converted to text and stored in its digital database. They have thousands of books that contain either the full book, a portion of a book, or a thumbnail of the paragraph from a book that is still in copyright. All you need to do is go down to the search box and type in anything you are looking for. It might be a name, a place, a how-to, or anything else you might want to search for. You will be taken to the Google site with a list of all the books that has what you searched for. Then click on the link and view the actual text.

Once the list of search results come up, you can use the filters on the left column to narrow down your search. For example, you can narrow your search to just those books that are in limited view or full view only, or just those that are in public domain.

Another tool is the Search the Genealogy Message Boards widget. Message boards are those online discussion sites. People post a question or comment and someone else answers the question or adds comments. When you join a message board you have a choice of having each post emailed to you individually as they are posted, or once a day in a digest mode. There are thousands of message boards and you probably don't want to subscribe to everyone...that would be a ton of email! Some of the message boards are set up to discuss certain software packages, some to talk about people with a certain surname or any surname from a particular location. There are boards for just about everything. Well, this search box will let you search across ALL the genealogy message board's archives. So type in a name for example and you will get a list of results from all the boards. Just click on the links and view the messages. You just might find that lost relative!

Genealogy Sleuth Search Engine is the next tool. It is similar to the message boards widget, except that this one creates a custom search and finds that name, place, etc., from more than just message boards. It might locate posted transcripts of data, family or local histories,  blog articles, and genealogy search sites. This is a great way to have your searches customized without you having to do the customization.

The last of the tools is the Genealogy Google Newspaper Archives Search box. Google has created another custom search that looks through their historical newspapers and archives. These are not the ones from the subscription sites but may contain some of the same material. The search results can create timelines which show selected results from relevant time periods. Here is an example of a name search for "parley pratt". The search brought back over 2000 records. I can then click on any decade on the timeline and limit the results to that specific time frame.
So come often and use these tools. They can save you hours of having to create your own custom searches and looking for the material you need!