I’ve written before about some of the features and tricks with Google searches that makes Google one of my favourite websites. One such feature is Google Alerts, which incidentally like many Google features isn’t well known.
In brief, Google Alerts let’s you set-up a regular search by Google of the search terms that are most of interest to you. It appears that this feature was created to allow users to follow current affairs of interest such as news stories, people, sports, etc. One of the uses for genealogists of course is that you can have Google searching on a regular basis for your ancestors, places where your ancestors lived, or stories about living relatives. Google reports back to you by email on the search results with links that you can then scan through to determine if any are relevant for your research. Another great part of this feature is that you can set up as many Google Alerts as you want.
I set up some Google Alerts some time ago for certain family surnames and surnames plus locations. Google has been reporting results to me on a daily basis. Yesterday, my “Breithaupt” surname search alert paid off. The Google email I received provided three results with links and the third of these links took me to an Osun.org search result page containing several .pdf documents about Ellen’s Breithaupt ancestors. I’m not too certain about Osun.org other than it appears to be a search engine for .pdf, .doc and .ppt file types, with a homepage that mimics Google’s homepage. Despite my suspicions about the site, I am at the very least, pleased that the documents I found are of benefit.
If you would like to set up your own Google Alerts, go to www.google.com/alerts. There, you can enter the search terms you are interested in, the type of search you want (I recommend ‘comprehensive’), how frequently you want to receive results, how many results per email report and finally, your email address where you want to receive the Google Alert emails. Happy hunting!