2014 Becoming an Online Expert: Mastering Search Engines and Digital Archives

Becoming an Online Expert: Mastering Search Engines and Digital Archives

(offered in Pittsburgh only)

Coordinator: D. Joshua Taylor, MA, MLS
Instructors: Paula Stuart-Warren, CG, FMGS, FUGA and Debra Mieszala, CG

Course Description: Explore the online world of records and repositories by efficiently being able to search for them. Learn the methods and tools to overcome database index challenges and find information on your family that is hidden in layers of webpages. Mornings feature “Expert Insider Tricks,” featuring a professional genealogist’s personal tricks for making the most from a subscription website, while afternoons include in-depth discussions and hands-on learning.

Note: A personal laptop is required.



8:15–9:30         What CAN You Find Online? (D. Joshua Taylor)
A discussion of what can be found online – from search engines to subscription sites. An overview of resources found in digital libraries, social media, and other online repositories will also be included.

10:00–11:15     How SEO and SEM Impacts YOUR Search (D. Joshua Taylor)
Take a look at SEO (search engine optimization) and SEM (search engine marketing) from a user’s perspective to understand how both elements interact with your search.

12:45–2:00         The Rules of Search Engines: AND OR NOT (D. Joshua Taylor)
Knowing what is allowed (or not allowed) when using a search engine is key. This session will explore Boolean tools, truncation,  and advanced features of popular search engines.

2:30–3:45         Creating an Online Research Plan (D. Joshua Taylor)
Following a plan when searching online is key to becoming an online expert. Discuss the need for online planning, ideas to help prioritize tasks, and help with creating and maintaining an online research log.

3:45–4:15         Optional Course Homework A



8:15–9:30         The Online Library Catalog: An Essential Tool (D. Joshua Taylor)
Go inside the pathway to a library’s materials during this in-depth review of library catalogs. Techniques for searching and accessing materials will be covered as well as making the most out of mobile access and other features inside the pathway to a library’s materials during this in-depth review of library catalogs.

10:00–11:15     Expert Insider Tricks: Ancestry.com (Paula Stuart-Warren)
You know your ancestors are there. Was the record difficult to read,  the indexer did not read it correctly, or some other factor is hampering your search? Learn techniques for harnessing the power of this website by using many of those symbols on your keyboard, delving in to the various aids that Ancestry.com has for us, keeping up-to-date, locating records of the past and current relatives, and to impress your fellow researchers.

12:45–2:00         Keywords, Keywords, Keywords, Tips and Tricks (D. Joshua Taylor)

2:30–3:45         Keywords, Keywords, Keywords, Hands-On (D. Joshua Taylor)
This two-part interactive lab will allow time to discussion, develop, and search with keywords and other techniques in major search engines (such as Google and Clusty).

3:45–4:15         Optional Course Homework A Discussion



8:15–9:30         Expert Insider Tricks: Online Newspapers (Debra Mieszala)
Online newspaper collections and their search functions vary greatly. Learn tips to get the most out of them, even when search functionality seems limited. Formulate searches in new ways to discover items formerly hidden by the use of more obvious search terms.

10:00–11:15     Major University and Digital Library Collections (D. Joshua Taylor)
This session explores various materials found online from universities and other libraries throughout the United States. Methods to identify and search these collections will also be discussed.

12:45–2:00         Diving into Archives, Discussion (D. Joshua Taylor)

2:30–3:45         Diving into Archives, Hands-On (D. Joshua Taylor)
This two-part interactive lab includes a discussion of the process of creating digital collections, examples from major collections for historical and genealogical sources, and tips for locating materials online. Time will be spent online in ArchiveGrid and other databases.

3:45–4:15         Optional Course Homework B



8:15–9:30         Expert Insider Tricks: FamilySearch.org (D. Joshua Taylor)
This morning’s insider tricks features FamilySearch.org, home to billions of online records from across the world.

10:00–11:15     Beyond the Law: Resources for Legal Context Online (Debra Mieszala)
Locate and understand statutory and case law, and easily find definitions of legal terms and phrases. Discover resources that compliment statutory and case law and increase understanding of them and their impact on a research problem.

12:45–2:00         Specialized Digital Resources: Churches, Organizations, and More (D. Joshua Taylor)
While some records from private organizations can be easily found online, many are still housed in paper form in archives and other institutions. This session will explore a variety of online resources for churches, fraternal organizations, and other groups.

2:30–3:45         Local Public Libraries (Paula Stuart-Warren)
Public libraries across the U.S. have amazing collections that are often overlooked. Thankfully more of them are participating in online cataloguing, digitizing newspapers, adding online indexes to in-house vertical files, posting local photographs, digitizing books, responding to emailed questions, subscribing to databases we need, and linking to other helpful data.



8:15–9:30       Expert Insider Tricks: Findmypast.com (D. Joshua Taylor)
From British resources to newly added records from the United States, this series of insider tricks features findmypast.com.

10:00–11:15     Searching in Social Media (D. Joshua Taylor)
New waves of online technologies, from Facebook to Twitter provide several important resources for genealogists. This final session will explore social networking, photo sharing, and other new web technologies with an eye towards future developments.

11:15                Wrap-up and certificates before lunch