Sunday, October 11, 2009

Gena Ortega Wows Them at SDGS Meeting

Gena Philibert Ortega was the program speaker at the San Diego Genealogical Society meeting on Saturday, 10 October. She spoke on "Using Google in Your Genealogy" in both halves of the program time - speaking for about 100 minutes total. The program summary and Gena's CV are here.

Gena's talk demonstrated how genealogy researchers can use many of Google's features to help them in their research quest. She described effective ways to use the Search Engine (and the Advanced Search fields) to narrow search results to desired matches using quote marks, Boolean operators, wild cards, searching in a specific website, etc.

Other topics covered included:

* Google Alerts (in Search > More > Even More > Alerts)-- receive daily emails for your desired search terms

* Google Search Options (link on Search results page) -- results in certain time periods, by categories, sorted by a timeline, etc.

* Blog Search (in Search > Blogs) -- search Blogger hosted blogs for search terms.

* Blogger (in Search > More > Even More > Blogger) -- Create blogs and write blog posts to share information

* Google Reader (in Search > More > Reader) -- subscribe to and read selected blogs

* Google Images/Video (in Search > Images or Video) -- find pictures and videos online for persons, events, locations, etc.

* Google News Archive Search (in Search > More > Even More > News > News Archive Search) -- search for historical newspaper results, some are free and some cost to view, not a thorough search, but useful.

* Google Scholar (in Search > More > Scholar) -- search scholarly books and articles. Matches show number of times cited, and sources can be reviewed for more information. Use it for historical content.

* Language Tools (link on Search page) -- translate words from one language to another; translate a web page from native language to another language.

* Patent Search (in Search > More > Even More > Patent Search) -- search by patent number, inventor or invention type.

* Google Maps (in Search > Maps) -- see localities in road map, satellite view or a hybrid view. Many cities have Street View where the user can see specific addresses. The user can create personal maps of localities to show residences, migration paths, etc.

* Panoramio ( -- uses Google Maps, and shows pictures of places or localities submitted by users.

* Google Earth (in Search > More > Even More > Google Earth - downloaded program) -- can overlay map image from your computer with Google Map.

* Google Books (in Search > More > Books) -- many older books are fully digitzed, newer books with copyright restrictions are excerpted. Many Genealogy, Local History and Surname books are available. User can use to find libraries with books for Inter-Linrary Loan.

* Google Docs (in Search > More > Documents) -- useful for online access to a word processor, spreadsheet and presentation program. User can control sharing with colleagues.

* Picasa (in Search > More > Even More > Picasa - downloaded program) -- use to organize, edit and tag photographs on your computer. Able to share with others by invitation.

* Google Sites (in Search > More > Sites) -- create your own website using online tools without knowing HTML or another language.

* Still More (in Search > More > Even More) -- Google Groups, Google Pack (of useful software), and much more.

Gena had a four page handout describing many of these features in more detail. Her website is and her blog is Gena's Genealogy. There is a post titled Additional Tips for Using Google with even more information about using Google to further your genealogy research. She encouraged the attendees to read or purchase Daniel Lynch's book Google Your Family Tree so that you have a manual to help you use Google effectively.

The two program segments went by very quickly! Gena is an excellent presenter - clear, knowledgeable, enthusiastic, funny. Her PowerPoint charts were mainly screen shots in order to demonstrate the different features of Google.

I even won one of the opportunity drawings - a large five generation family tree chart. Just what I need!

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