Perusing genealogy websites? Make sure you know the best way to search

Whether you’re poking around on Google or a specific genealogy website, how you search for information can make a big difference.

One type of search does not fit all. You should try out different methods.

Start by typing in your topic. Then try putting your topic in quotes. If the site offers a key word search, go there next. Less is often more because, if you use too many words, you can overload the search.

Remember that spellings were not standard in olden times so always try different spellings of a name, especially when searching newspaper sites. Learn how to use the asterisk, as what that can offer differs per site. On, you have to use five letters then the asterisk. On FamilySearch, you can use it in various ways to clarify an unknown or vague quantity. Check on each site to learn what they allow.

Also remember that some websites are better accessed with certain web browsers or search engines. I know that FamilySearch and FamilyTreeDNA do better with Firefox, rather than Internet Explorer. So if you are having trouble with access, make a change. The goal is to get an answer with your search, so you must do whatever it takes to get for the optimal results. On FamilySearch and other sites, you can see when databases are updated or added. You might want to search again after a major additions of data, so always date your notes to know when you last searched.

AncestryDNA changes Ethnicity Estimates again’s DNA division has just recently announced that it has revised its Ethnicity Estimates or percentages. If you go to your DNA results, it will show you not only the new version, but your old one as well. In the latest update, I lost my Finnish kin, which I didn’t think I had in the first place. This revised information is due to a greater database of “reference population information” for comparison. informed me that my reference samples went from 3,000 to 16,000, hence the tweaking. See the explanations on the site and study your new results. Many people think their new profile better defines what they thought their ethnic heritage was.

What special foods do you recall from family gatherings?

The October/November issue of Family Tree Magazine poses this question: “What special foods do you recall from family gatherings of your youth?” The follow up is “How did you like them?” I recall at Thanksgiving once, my Dad and his brother discussed growing up in Charlotte and eating liver mush. Ever tried that?

Contact Kenneth H. Thomas Jr., P.O.Box 901, Decatur, GA 30031 or