Saturday, July 25, 2009

Using GenealogyBank - Post 5: Using Keyword Searches

In Using GenealogyBank - Post 1: Getting Started, I described the GenealogyBank subscription site and started a search. Using GenealogyBank - Post 2: Seeing Search Results, described and demonstrated how the results look and how to save them and print them. Post 3:More Navigation Options showed easy ways to navigate within the Historical Newspapers collection. In Post 4: More Databases, I demonstrated navigating to the other collections from the Search results page and we looked at the SSDI result.

In this post, I'm going to use the Keyword search fields to demonstrate using quotes around names, and excluding certain keywords.

On the opening Search screen, the user can input keywords into the Search field labelled "Include keywords to search." I input the name "Thomas Seaver" in quotes in the "Include keywords" field, as shown below:

There were 273 matches in all of the GenealogyBank databases:

I clicked on the "Historical Newspapers" collection and saw the first five matches. I decided to rank them by "Oldest items" so I chose that in the "Sort by" field and saw:

267 matches is a lot to go through. I was mainly interested in Thomas Seaver persons that did not reside in Boston or New Hampshire, so I went back to the Search box and added the terms [boston hampshire] in the "Exclude keywords from search" field, as shown below:

There were 132 matches in the Historical Newspaper collection, as shown below:

I clicked on the "Historical Newspaper" collection and saw the first five matches:

I noted that the fourth one on this list was a New Hampshire newspaper. Obviously, the term "Hampshire" did not appear on the page with the note about Thomas Seaver.

The user needs to be careful excluding certain words. For instance, since I excluded both Boston and Hampshire, I will not see matches that include counties named Hampshire, or persons named Boston.

The best use of the "Exclude keywords" feature is when the person is associated with a certain activity. If I had searched for "Tom Seaver" in the example above, I should have added "baseball" and "pitcher" to the Exclude Keyword field just to eliminate those matches, assuming I wasn't after my cousin, the Baseball Hall-of-Fame pitcher.

Sorting by "Oldest items" is very helpful to order things rather than reading every match presented in some haphazard order. The Search fields permit a year range for the matches to help narrow the search.

The best use of the "Include keywords" feature is to narrow the search to a specific name using the quote marks, and to add a place name to the search for persons with common surnames.

This completes my brief survey of the GenealogyBank commercial website. It has very useful resources in the Historical Newspapers, America's Obituaries, and Historical Papers collections. Many of these resources are unique to GenealogyBank - they are available in no other place on the Internet.

No comments: