Sunday, February 22, 2009

"Using Google in Your Genealogy" with Gena Ortega at CGSSD on Saturday

Gena Philibert Ortega presented her excellent "Using Google in Your Genealogy" presentation on Saturday at the Computer Genealogy Society of San Diego (CGSSD) meeting. Gena was doing this talk before Dan Lynch published his outstanding book "Google Your Family Tree," which covers many of the same tips and techniques that Gena covered today. Her talk covered almost all of the areas on the front page and the "more" link.

Some of the tips and ideas that I came away with included:

* Search -- if you use the Cached link, instead of the web page link, then your search terms will be highlighted and easily found. Use Advanced Search to really narrow your search results.

* Images -- search for historical photos of homes or towns that may be online

* News Archive -- this doesn't have every historical newspaper, but you can choose a date range if you get too many matches

* Language Tools -- you can search for the English equivalent in another language, translate a web page or translate a portion of text to or from English. This would be helpful for our Spanish-reading library visitors!

* Patents -- all of the US patents are here. Gena showed as a 2001 patent for underwear. Funny.

* Maps -- you can create personal maps of where family lived, migration paths, etc. and save them or publish them. She mentioned as a site where users can post photos of places they've visited superimposed on a satellite map view.

* Books -- Google Books shows a link to for a source citation and book availability in libraries near you. She also mentioned for the California libraries catalog.

* Documents -- you can save your documents online, and collaborate with others on a common document. They have a Microsoft-like word processor, spreadsheet, presentation and forms.

* Photos - Picasa can be used to catalog all of the images on your computer, but it may take a long time if you have lots of genealogy record images. You can post, organize, view and share them, and can create folders to exclude from viewing.

* Blogs -- Google has a separate Blog search, although the main Search engine picks up keywords in Blogspot blogs. Creating a blog with Blogger is very easy - it takes less than five minutes.

I cannot do a 90 minute presentation justice in this summary. As you can see, I learned a few things (perhaps "again") even though I read Dan Lynch's book! Gena's presentation was well attended - there were 98 there (a record I heard for CGSSD) - and the audience loved Gena's personality, enthusiasm, knowledge and sense of humor. There was quite a bit of audience participation - many questions during the talk, and suggestions too, and Gena handled these with grace and aplomb.

As an added bonus, I went to lunch with John, Joan, Barbara and Gena and we discussed genealogy web sites, hardware and software. What else? Cemeteries too, of course! It was a really fun genealogy day, and I learned a lot too.


Gena Philibert-Ortega said...

Thanks for all of your kind words, Randy.

I wanted to let you and everyone know that I did add to my talk yesterday, by blogging about Google Scholar. Check it out at my blog at

Ben Walker said...

Randy just today I discovered (actuall found it on Robert Ragan's Genealogy Treasures site) that Google toobar includes a toggle button for highlighting the search terms in documents. Neat!