28 November 2010

Genealogy Name Search Challenge

I recently had an email from a genealogist in the USA who is investigating an alleged association between a SHREWSBURY and her FRISTROM ancestor during his brief visit to Australia. She was stunned when a rather optimistic Google search for 'FRISTROM +SHREWSBURY' (together on the same page) led her to a 'name + alias' entry on my Web site.

This started me thinking about uncommon surnames. Just for fun, using Twitter, I offered a prize to the first genealogist to search my Web site and find an unusual name from their family tree. Within minutes, Kerry Farmer (a researcher, instructor and blogger who makes a huge contribution to family history in Australia) announced that she had found entries for her FAZACKERLEY and ETHERINGTON.

The Twitter experiment was so much fun that I decided to take it one step further. To set the scene, I should explain that my Web site lists over fifty thousand names from my indexes to archival records (and a few certificates, photographs and headstones). Although most of the sources are in Australia, many of those 50,000 people were born and/or lived in other countries. I am therefore issuing this challenge to genealogists worldwide:
  1. Think of an unusual name (surname or given name) in your family tree. If none of your names are unusual, choose someone who is a 'brick wall' in your research.
  2. Search for the name using the Google box (top right corner) on my Web site.
  3. If you find the name on my Web site, write a comment on this blog, mentioning the name that you found and the index in which it appears.
  4. You also have the option of ordering (via me) a copy of the original source. Just follow the instructions on the Web page where you find the name.
At the end of each month, in a random draw, I will select one person who has left a comment here and placed an order with me. That person will receive $10 credit towards the cost of any photocopy, book or genealogical research that he/she orders from me.

This offer will remain open until further notice, and you can participate every month if you wish. Happy searching!