Search Tips: There Are Several Ways to Find Your Ancestors

GenealogyBank offers a huge archive of newspapers, historical books and documents, and government records—793 million articles and records to help with your family research! With this much material, it can be a little overwhelming figuring out how to get started. This article explains some effective search tips to make your family history research faster and more enjoyable.

Let's say, for example, you are searching for your Junot ancestors in Louisiana.

First of all, it is helpful to understand that GenealogyBank's archive contains five different collections of material for your family history research: Historical Newspapers, Historical Books, Historical Documents, Recent Newspaper Obituaries, and the Social Security Death Index. These five collections are displayed on the bottom half of GenealogyBank's home page:

The top half of GenealogyBank's home page features a search form for the entire site. To do the broadest search possible, simply enter the name you are researching into the search form on the home page, and GenealogyBank's search engine will speedily examine all five collections and give you the complete results.

For example, enter "Junot" in the "Last Name" box and hit the "Begin Search" button:

You get this search results page, showing that GenealogyBank has 9,507 search results for "Junot" in its archive:

You could go ahead and look at all 9,507 results, but it would take you a very long time—and many would not be the Junot family in Louisiana that you're researching. You may want to begin with a more refined search for the specific individual(s) or family you want. The three examples below are good ways to narrow your search to get better results.

Example 1

One approach is to refine your search by using the advanced search form, so that you can search for the surname you want narrowed by the state where the family is from. Notice that on the home page's search form there is a link to call up the advanced search form:

The advanced search form gives you the ability to narrow your search. Enter "Junot" in the "Last Name" box, add "Louisiana" in the "Include keywords with search" box, and hit the "Begin Search" button:

You get this search results page, showing that GenealogyBank has 545 articles or records in which the name "Junot" has been indexed and the word "Louisiana" appears in the text:

This approach has narrowed 9,507 search results down to 545. By clicking on the individual links on the Search Results Page, you can examine all 545 Junot/Louisiana items in GenealogyBank's archive: 451 items from Historical Newspapers (which include historical obituaries); 5 items from Recent Newspaper Obituaries; 55 items from the Social Security Death Index; 1 item from Historical Books; and 33 items from Historical Documents. (Note that in this search, both the terms "Junot" and "Louisiana" must be present in the article or record in order to show up as a search result.)

Example 2

Some genealogists begin their family research by first using obituaries only, to fill in the dates and build the framework of their family tree. GenealogyBank has over 160 million obituaries and death records covering 300 years that you can search, contained in four different collections:
  1. Newspaper Obituaries (1977-Current)
  2. Historical Newspapers (1690-2007)
  3. Historical Documents (1789-1984)
  4. Social Security Death Index (1937-Current)
For an illustrated, step-by-step explanation how to do this, read the article Search Tips: Finding All the Obituaries and Death Records in GenealogyBank from the January 2011 issue of GenealogyBank News.

Beginning your research with obituaries often uncovers a treasure trove of family history. For example, consider this Louisiana Junot obituary:

The obituary for Carrie Roussel Junot published by the Advocate newspaper (Baton Rouge, Louisiana) on Oct. 25, 1993, provides much useful and interesting information about this woman's life during her 97 years—and its many references to other family members show how obituaries can lead your family research into new, and sometimes unexpected, directions.

Example 3

Obituaries provide the dates and some of the details of your ancestors' lives. But to get to know them as people you need to know their stories. For that kind of information, nothing beats an archive of historical newspapers—and that's the next GenealogyBank collection to examine in your family research. (For a poignant example of this, read the article A Family's Sorrow Revealed in 1848 Newspaper from the January 2011 issue of GenealogyBank News.)

GenealogyBank features over 4,500 newspapers from all 50 states, with a quick, easy-to-use search form and a handy map feature. For an illustrated, step-by-step explanation how to explore these newspapers, read the article Search Tips: Using GenealogyBank's Search Engine to Research One State, City or Newspaper from the December 2010 issue of GenealogyBank News.

Using the map feature on the historical newspapers search form, click on the "Louisiana" box to limit your search to only newspapers in that state:

Next, enter "Junot" in the "Last Name" box and hit the "Begin Search" button:

You get this search results page, showing that GenealogyBank has 1,141 historical articles from Louisiana newspapers that contain the name "Junot," with five results per screen. The "Sort by" option lets you arrange the obituaries by "Newest items" or "Oldest items." You can examine each article one-by-one; alternatively, the left-hand side of the Search Results Page shows these newspaper articles sorted by categories—in case you want to examine them this way. Clicking on either the article snippet or link calls up the entire article, with a convenient Viewer feature that lets you magnify the image, save it as a .pdf file, or print it:

As you can see, there are multiple ways to find your ancestors. GenealogyBank has a lot of material: you can search all of it at once, or individually search each of its five collections. Take some time and play around with these different approaches, and see what works best for you. Have fun searching—and good luck with your family history research!

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