Saturday, January 5, 2008

Google Tips for Genealogy: Spelling

When you use Google you are searching an index of web pages found on the Internet. Keep in mind who publishes those web pages: fellow genealogists, cousins . . .human beings. Are human beings consistent with spelling? Nope. Do human beings make mistakes? You bet. Does every human being use his or her spell-checker? I wish.

Variant Spellings, Misspellings, and Typos:

When searching on names we have learned (or are learning) to look for all variant spellings of given names, surnames, and place names. For example, when looking for Anderson you should also look for Andersen, Andersson, Anderssen, and possibly just Anders, etc. The same goes for keywords or phrases that you might use in a search. So, when looking for one word/phrase also look for misspellings or typos for that word, such as:

  • genealogy --> geneology, geneaology, genology
  • ancestry --> ancestory
  • family history --> family histroy
  • cemetery --> cemetary

Other Languages:

Remember to use words and phrases from languages other than your own, particularly those from the country of origin for your ancestors. If you are looking for your Swedish ancestor use Swedish words in your searches. For example, use translation software or tools like the FamilySearch word lists to locate the Swedish words for birth (födda, födde, född, födelse), burial (begravning), wife (hustru, maka), etc.

Build Your Queries:

You need to build a series of possible search queries based on various spellings, words, and phrases. The queries can be stored in a document on your computer and used over and over again each time you sit down to Google your ancestors. Just copy and paste them when you are ready to search. So, using my previous (simple) Peter Johnson example, I would start to build a series of several queries like this:

  • genealogy peter johnson iowa sweden
  • geneology peter johnson iowa sweden
  • geneaology peter johnson iowa sweden
  • genology peter johnson iowa sweden
  • "family history" peter johnson iowa sweden
  • "family histroy" peter johnson iowa sweden
  • "family tree" peter johnson iowa sweden
  • ancestry peter johnson iowa sweden
  • ancestory peter johnson iowa sweden
  • genealogy peter johnsen iowa sweden
  • geneology peter johnsen iowa sweden
  • geneaology peter johnsen iowa sweden
  • genology peter johnsen iowa sweden
  • "family history" peter johnsen iowa sweden
  • "family histroy" peter johnsen iowa sweden
  • "family tree" peter johnsen iowa sweden
  • ancestry peter johnsen iowa sweden
  • ancestory peter johnsen iowa sweden

As you can see above it would be possible to come up with dozens of variant queries to try out based on combinations of misspellings, typos, and more.


Hugh W said...

you forgot genealogia

used in many countries

and "johnson peter" finds lists of marriages and memorial inscriptions

dates 1710..1790 is a numrange

"Just add two numbers, separated by two periods, with no spaces, into the search box along with your search terms, and specify a unit of measurement or some other indicator of what the number range represents."


Anonymous said...

Love your Blog Cindi, I've been reading it faithfully everytime it comes to me. Great advice I will use, even though I have my own successful ways to research, one can always use more. This spelling tip is great. I'm a bad speller since I got older in years, I'll keep this blog in mind whenever I go to find an ancestor. Thanks and a Happy New Year to You.

Joni Martines

Cyndi Ingle said...

Hugh -
Whoa! You're jumping ahead. I've got the date range and others planned for future posts.

Yes, you're right about foreign spellings for the words genealogy. Here are others:

familienforschung, genealogische, genealogie, généalogique, genealogia, genealogiske, släktforskning, sukututkimus, genedlaethol, hanes teulu


Canadian Lib Genie (aka Elise) said...

One way around synonyms for genealogy, ancestry, etc is to use a tilde ~ search in google. It won't usually hit upon mispellings, but it'll definitely cut down on variants!

Try it!

Canadian Lib Genie (aka Elise) said...

Tilde (~) searches cut down on variant spellings in google. ~genealogy will bring up results for family, family tree, surname, genealogical, etc. Doesn't do much for mispellings, I'm afraid, so those typos will still need to be accounted for as separate queries.

Happy New Year!

Francis Lalonde said...

This may be slightly off the message, but another resourse people may want to try (possibly using the same search terms) is Google Book search. I've found several historical references, as well as a few of Tanguay's Dictionary of Canadian marriages.