Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Online Hint : Mocavo Genealogy Search Engine

Reading the November 2011 of Family Tree Magazine (yes, it really is a November issue already), reminded me of a relatively new internet search engine designed for genealogists, Mocavo.  I had heard of it before, but had not taken any serious time to check it out. 


When you first visit the Mocavo home page, you are greeted with a portal which says "Research (# here) Ancestors For Free."  At the time of this writing that number was just shy of 5 billion and you can watch the number increase in real time. 

As with most sites that allow us to plug in names, options include a simple search and an Advanced Search.  The Advanced Search is your best bet if you have a more common name, giving options for last name, first name, year born, year deceased, and a keyword entry.  Don't automatically go to the Advanced Search page for most of your names.  Take the simple search out for a spin first to make sure you don't unintentionally weed out useful search results by using too many search terms.  Always start with less and add more a little at a time.  Searching with quotations is useful, such as "John Robinson" insuring that your search names will appear together on the page, and it will locate hits with middle names or initials even if you don't use them in your search.

When you review your hit list you are also given search tips in the column to the left.  You will want to take the time to read and become familiar with these to assist in narrowing your search parameters.  The article in the magazine made mention of a tip - if you wish to search only one website, enter that address along with the name in the simple search or in the keyword portion of the Advanced Search.

Search results are arranged list style, 10 per page, similar to Google and other search engines and includes hits from some of the major family history sites such as:

You are likely to get many hits listed separately from the same site, however clicking on any link in the hit list will take you directly to the location of the information entered into the search box.  This is unlike Google, which sometimes gives you a result in your hit list that you are unable to get to at all or that you must perform new searches once you get to the webpage in order to find what you were seeking.

The down side?  You will encounter broken links as with any search engine.  With Archives.org, apparently some of the content had been removed from the website.  My hit list led to items that were indexed from the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, but they were no longer there.  Obviously absent from the hits was Google Books and Family Search, but did include many personal & obscure websites.

So, if you are a regular visitor to the above websites and are looking for a quicker way to search many at once, Mocavo will be a useful tool to add to your genealogy checklist.  If you would like to read the article, this and other issues of Family Tree Magazine are available to check out from the Local History Department.

Nameless Picture of the Day
Mystery Solved!
In our August 26 posting, we had a photograph of a home in Breedsville with an unidentified couple standing in the yard (catalog #M1786).  Van Buren County GenWeb master, Joan Jaco, has identified the couple as Edwin Ruthvan Ferguson and his wife Helen Cramer Ferguson.  The house was located on North Pine Street (CR 215), a block north of the main intersection of town.  Joan is a distant relative of the couple and has more information for those who are interested.  Thank you, Joan, for clearing up this mystery.

Nameless Picture of the Day

 unknown boy & girl in buggy
Photographer - Northrup, Bangor; cabinet card
M1787

Can you identify the children in this photo?  Do you recognize the buildings or know their location?  Please contact us if you have any information and we will publish it in a future blog.  Please include the five character catalog number with your e-mail.