Monday, April 4, 2016

A Trick to Find Obituaries and Newspaper Articles

I thought of a simple trick to tweak a Google search in order to help you find newspaper articles and obituaries for people of relatively uncommon surnames and especially for those with surnames that are also common words.

The trick is to search for "Mr. Surname" or "Mrs. Surname", including the quotes. Let's say you're searching for someone with the last name of Swords. Doing a Google search for just the word Swords is going to find many pages regarding the bladed weapon.
Doing a search for "Mr. Swords", on the other hand, will find any page that uses those exact words in that exact order. What sort of page would include something like "Mr. Swords"? An article talking about a man whose last name is Swords. Many obituaries also use this term after giving someone's full name earlier in the article.

I did a search for "Mr. Panther" and "Mrs. Panther". While I did find a few pages about men and women with that surname, I also found a few pages about contests at schools whose mascots were Panthers. So, this tweak isn't perfect. However, I believe you will find a number of additional articles that would have eluded your search before.

In addition, this can help you find more distant relations you didn't know about. If you didn't know the first name of someone who was related to you, you'd have no way of knowing what name to search for and doing the common word search would overwhelm your results. On the other hand, using this tip, you may come across an obituary for someone with that surname whose first name you didn't know. You can then use the information included in the obituary to hopefully figure out where they fit into your tree.


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