Dan Lynch has written an excellent new book called, "Google Your Family Tree." I have now had a chance to read it twice and must say that I am even more impressed with the second reading than I was with the first. The reason is that Dan has added even more material.
Dan wrote the first draft of this book a few months ago and sent manuscript copies of it to a number of people for their input. The manuscript copies were sent before he submitted it to a publisher. I was fortunate enough to be one of those reviewers and I read the version that Dan had printed on his own computer. I offered a few suggestions and apparently his other reviewers offered many more. The final book that I read this week is much larger and contains even more material than the manuscript I read earlier this year. I was enthused with the original manuscript but must say that the final version improves the book still further.
Writing a complete reference for the use of Google would probably fill a thousand pages or more. Instead, Dan provides a good overview of Google's operation that will benefit any Internet user, then "dives deep" into those features of interest to genealogists. The resulting 340-pages of this book are crammed with useful hints that online genealogists should know.
The following is from the Table of Contents:
- Chapter 1 — Search Engine Basics
- Chapter 2 — Interpreting Web Search Results
- Chapter 3 — Advanced Search Techniques
- Chapter 4 — Language Tools
- Chapter 5 — Google Books
- Chapter 6 — Google News Archive
- Chapter 7 — Blog Search
- Chapter 8 — Images & Video
- Chapter 9 — Google Alerts
- Chapter 10 — Google Maps
- Chapter 11 — Google Earth
- Chapter 12 — Google Notebook
- Chapter 13 — The Google Toolbar & Google Chrome
- Chapter 14 — Other Tips & Tricks
- Appendix A — Getting Started in Genealogy
- Appendix B — Top Sites for Genealogists
- Appendix C — Other Internet Search Engines
- Appendix D — Web Search Engine Defined
- Appendix E — Syntax Summary & Quick Reference
The book also includes two "Quick Reference Cards." One lists the more common search terms and commands for Google while the second lists advanced terms that are especially useful for genealogy searches.
The book does omit any discussion of the Google tools that have no special use for genealogy, such as Google Documents.
Some of the topics that are described in detail include using Google's 160 international sites and also in using the capability to search web pages in languages other than English in order to find information in your ancestors' native tongues. I was especially pleased to see a detailed description of Google Books, one of the best-kept "secrets" of genealogy searches. The book also describes searching Google to find online videos, such as modern travelogues and videos of towns and villages back in "the old country."
Have you ever used Google Notebook? I bet most people have not and yet that is a great service for genealogists. This book describes the use of Google Notebook in detail.
Finally, Chapter 9 describes another great Google resource that is not well known: "Google Alerts: Search While You Sleep." While most Internet-savvy genealogists know how to conduct searches on Google, many are not familiar with the search engine's capabilities to periodically search for specific terms in an automated fashion and then send any new results to your e-mail address. Did a distant cousin recently post family information that you seek? The chapter on "Google Alerts: Search While You Sleep" will teach you how to put Google to work for you every day finding new material, even if you are not near a computer.
One criticism I have of other books is that they are frequently written from a Microsoft Windows viewpoint. Dan Lynch avoided that trap; "Google Your Family Tree" is equally useful for Windows, Macintosh and Linux users.
All in all, I was delighted with this book. I thought I was a Google expert, fully familiar with the search engine's operation. However, I learned a number of new tricks by reading Dan Lynch's book. I bet you will also. If you want to conduct more effective searches on Google, be it about genealogy or nearly any other topic, reading "Google Your Family Tree" will increase your expertise.
You can learn more about "Google Your Family Tree" at the book's web site at: http://www.googleyourfamilytree.com/contents.php. You also might enjoy Mary Slawson's interview of Dan Lynch on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ot9T0dehGc as well as a FaceBook page devoted to the book at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Google-Your-Family-Tree/103259055513.
"Google Your Family Tree" is published by FamilyLink.com and sells for a retail price of $34.95. You can order it online from the book's home page which then points to WorldVitalRecords.com at http://www.worldvitalrecords.com/google_your_family_tree/?cpn=gyftwebsite.
Dan Lynch went the 'extra mile' to create a valuable book for online genealogists. I hope he sells a million of these books; it's that good.