Customized Google Toolbar for Genealogy - Setup
The Google toolbar allows us to add custom buttons to the toolbar so that we can search specific genealogy sites quickly without having to first visit the site. If you don't already have Google's Toolbar you'll need to install it before you try to use any of the buttons below. The toolbar only works with Internet Explorer and Firefox browsers. Firefox is the better of the two so my recommendation is to use it instead of IE.
After you install the toolbar you'll notice that you have a new "row" added to your browser bar at the top of the screen. Whether you already had the toolbar installed or you just finished installation you are probably going to have way more buttons and options on your new bar than you really need. I've taken virtually everything off of my bar with a couple of exceptions. If you want to get rid of all of the distracting features click on the button on the end of your new bar that says "Settings". When the Settings window opens you'll see that there are three tabs. Make the following changes:
Features tab: uncheck everything. Some of the buttons may sound useful, but there is really nothing on here that you "have to have".
Buttons tab: uncheck everything except for Button Gallery. If you use Gmail leave that one checked as that button gives you single click access to your Gmail account.
More tab: uncheck everything under "Even more buttons" and "Highlight" under "Find on Page". If you have a pop-up blocker you can uncheck the Pop-up Blocker also.
How a Customized Google Toolbar Will Help You
You may ask yourself why you need this Google Toolbar and how customizing it will help you in your genealogy research. Let's take a look at how you might do some initial research on a name you are looking up and compare the time and effort involved with using the Google toolbar to perform the same task.
Let's say you've come across a new name in your family tree, John Smith, and you want to find out all you can about him. If you are on the web the first thing you are probably going to do is check a few databases and then maybe move on to a generic search on Google or some other search engine. So, you might first go to Rootsweb and check their WorldConnect project, then after digging around there you might go to some site like Ancestry.com and dig around on there, then maybe after that you go to the message boards on either Ancestry or Genealogy.com.
Every time you go to a different site you have to either use a bookmark to get to the site and navigate to their search section or maybe you have a direct bookmark that speeds things up a bit. Either way you do it you still have to manually go to the site and enter your search terms each time. Then when you move on to Google you have to worry about the nightmare of maneuvering through a ton of search results that don't have anything to do with what you are looking for.
The solution that the custom buttons on the Google toolbar offers is to save you the trouble of going to all of those sites individually, finding the search page and entering your search terms each and every time. Additionally, even when you search on Google for a name or place the buttons can be created in such a way as to save you the trouble of figuring out how to search for someone without getting tons of results that have nothing to do with what you are looking for. With the custom buttons for the Google toolbar all you do is enter a name, place or subject once and start clicking your buttons to get taken to the search results immediately.
Using the Custom Buttons on this Page
In the section below you will find a collection of custom buttons for which I have written the code to place them on your Google Toolbar. To add any of these buttons to your toolbar simply click the icon for it. A confirmation box will appear when you click the links, after confirming that you want to add the button the icon for it will appear on your toolbar.
Using the buttons once they have been added is very simple. In the Google search box on the toolbar simply type in a name, subject or place, depending on which button you are using, click the button and you will be taken to the search results for the site whose button you chose. If you have buttons for several sites just click them in succession to go to each site automatically.
In order for additional buttons to work properly you must make sure that you have clicked on the name in the search box (just click your mouse anywhere in the box) each time you are ready to go to a new site. Not doing this will just take you to the page without searching. To make sure the button is ready for use you will see a small magnifying glass on the button signifying that it is ready to be used.If you know of additional genealogy sites that would be of benefit to others send me an email and I will add a button to the list for the site.
Button List for Your Custom Google Toolbar
Remember that you must have the Google Toolbar installed before trying to use any of these buttons. If you don't have the toolbar installed you will be taken to the installation page when trying to use any of the links below.
- Social Security Number Index at rootsweb.com. When you use this button ONLY enter a last name. Once you get to the database you can fine tune your search by adding more data.
- Missouri Death Certificates. Only use surnames when using this button. Once you get to the database you can fine tune your search by adding more data.
- Virginia Land Patents. Ideally use surnames when using this button, but you can search a full name ONLY if you use lastname, firstname format. For some reason if your search term is not found you are thrown to a random name within their database so try different spellings if you get weird results.
- Revolutionary War Pensions. This site focuses on Southern states Revolutionary War Pensions and contains summaries of the entire pension. You can use any search term or phrase with this button.
- Family History Library. This BYU library site has many scanned and indexed family history books. Either a surname or keyword when searching this website. You can fine tune your search when you get to the site.
- Google Blog Search. Use any term or phrase to search the tons of blogs that Google has indexed (their goal is to index every blog on the web with an rss feed). This search type is really handy as Google returns the results from newest blogs to oldest meaning that any results that are returned are typically new data.
- Google Books. Use any term or phrase to search this collection. Google has tons of books both new and old that are indexed in varying degrees. Some books are completely indexed, others only partially and some that are not indexed.
- Google Scholar. Use any term or phrase to search this collection. Your mileage may vary with this particular search. Google Scholar is a collection of web pages that Google has indexed that cover things like theses, books, abstracts and articles.
- Google all-in-title search. Use any term or phrase to search Google for web sites that have the search term in the title of the web page. This is a specialized search that does not search the contents of a website, but rather the title of the website. This can be particularly useful for looking for websites dedicated to a particular surname or locality as the site will typically have the surname or locality in it's title. In most cases this search will not work well when looking for a specific individual.
- Google all-in-url search. Use any term or phrase to search Google for web sites that have the search term in the url (address) of the web page. This search is very similar to the Google all-in-title search. Whereas the all-in-title search is not especially suited to finding individuals the all-in-url search might work for individuals. It is also good for finding localities of interest.
- Ancestry.com. Only use surnames to search this collection. Even if you don't have a subscription to Ancestry you can still search their database to see what records they have. Many libraries have subscriptions so after you find the data you need at home you can use the computers at your library to fine tune your search.
- Rootsweb FTP server. Use any term to search this site. Virtually all files for the US GenWeb project are stored on RootsWeb's FTP server. This includes all states and counties and any other specialty sites GenWeb might have. This search can be extremely powerful.
- Genealogy.com Genforums. Use any term or phrase to search this collection. Since the genforums site has no means of searching all forums at once with a single search (you have to go to individual forums to search which is a real hassle) this search button is a definite boon. Using this search you actually utilize Google to search the entire genforum forum site rather than genforum itself. Search for individual names or surnames.
- World Vital Records. Only use surnames to search this collection, you can fine tune your search once you get to the web site. This site is very similar to Ancestry.com except that the records that World Vital Records adds to their site are free to access for the first 10 days.
- Footnote.com.Use any term or phrase to search this collection. Footnote offers a fantastic collection of original records going back to the Revolutionary War. While it does cost to access most of their records they still have a fair number that are free. Although it is primarily a pay site their subscription costs are quite low considering what they have.
- Immigrant Servants Database. Only use surnames to search this collection. If you are looking for ancestors who entered the colonies in Virginia this is a database worth checking.
- World Connect. Only use surnames to search this collection. This is another Rootsweb database with tons of individuals in many donated family files. Since everything is user dontated use a grain of salt with anything you find, at the very least you can normally find a lot of good ideas on where to look next for that hard to find relative. (sorry for using the same icon as for Rootsweb FTP, they didn't have another icon for me to use).
If you know of additional genealogy sites that would be of benefit to others send me an email and I will add a button to the list for the site.