Monday, October 26

On the Qui Vive for Family History

I'm surprised at how many people still don't know how easy it is to set up internet alerts.

An alert scans through new content on the web, looking for keywords that you specify.  For instance, if you set an alert for the name of your great-grandfather, Shmoyim Strudlepfieffer, then any time Shmoyim's name is added to new content on the internet, you'll get an email alerting you to the link.  An alert can be designed to search web pages, news stories, blog content, forums, or all of the above.

One of them might be great-granddaddy Strudlepfieffer

If your family name is an unusual one (like, for instance, Strudlepfieffer), then an alert simply on your family name might be enough to provide valuable genelogical information.

On the other hand, if grandpappy's name is John Smith, then your email inbox will wind up swamped with alerts about the thousands of people with that name that show up every day in new web postings.  If that's the case, then include some keywords in your alert to help narrow things down -- an unusual middle name, perhaps, or the name of the small town that John Smith called home.

I like using Google Alerts myself.  They are easy to set up and easy to modify if you end up with too many or too few results.

So keep on the alert, or on the qui vive, as they say, for any new family history information.

Visit the main page of Free Genealogy Tools for more, umm, free genealogical tools.

And don't forget to also check for your family history at and These are subscription databases, but they are among the most powerful research tools available for looking into family roots.

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