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How Deep Is Your Web Search?

person at bottom of a cave spotlighted in sun

Did you know there was a central source for free genealogy records links BEFORE there was a Google? Cyndi'sList was established in 1996 by Cyndi Ingle with 1,025 links to mostly maps and indexes. By 1997, she was up to 17,200 links. She is now providing hundreds of thousands of links purely related to the pursuit of genealogy.

I'll have to admit that I abandoned (or in today's parlance "ghosted") Cyndi a while ago, quite certain of my own extraordinary Google searching abilities. When she was scheduled as the featured speaker for the Dallas Genealogy Society Summer meeting last weekend, I signed up to find out what she was up to these days, and I found out I was missing out on a LOT of info now available on the internet.

Cyndi's List of Genealogy Sites on the Internet logo

Current estimates are that only 4% (FOUR) of the world's internet sites can be found on Google and similar search engines. Let's face it, anyone can put up a website, but how do people find it? Very, very basically, you have to ask Google, Bing, etc., to add you to their list of sites. Your site has to get "indexed" and "crawled" by the search "bots" to make it into their lists. The other 96% of the websites out there not listed in Google's index are on the "deep web" and the "dark web."

internet browser screen and results popping up

Back in the pioneer days of the internet, space was at a premium, so not every site could be completely indexed or crawled for every possible search term to be saved for every possible topic. Now we have giant "clouds" for storage, but some websites are still invisible because no one has requested that they be indexed.

The deep or invisible web has websites containing private information that is usually password enabled, like your emails, your Ancestry account, or your doctor's office portal. For example, if you went to Google and entered, "Facebook + YourUserName" the public profile that comes up in Google is the "surface web." When you or anyone clicks on that link and looks at your pictures and posts, that is "deep web" (unless you have made your profile private and unsearchable by Google).

a dark and spooky outside space with creepy figure opening a portal

The "dark web" is the scary area where people like drug dealers, weapons dealers, etc. hang out and conduct illegal activities or communications. You have to have special encryption tools to be able to access the dark web, so don't worry about stumbling into it by mistake.

Cyndi'sList has a categorized and cross-referenced list of more than 337,000 links in over 180 categories for genealogical researching that span the globe, some free and some subscription. Here are some of the basic category descriptions:

Localities Record type Ethnicities Religions Military

Occupations Methodology History Supplies Reference Materials

Preservation Technology Light-hearted topics

CindysList is completely free to use, so it's ad heavy, but not annoyingly so. She will accept donations and it is basically run by her and some family members. You thought YOU were genealogy crazy? I'm diving back in this week to see if there are some more unpublicized (and free) websites with info to help me with my brick walls! There are few things as exciting as new indexes and documentation sources (said the genealogy super nerd).

Dallas Genealogical Society Logo

Cyndi Ingle's presentation (and syllabus) also included how to plan your research to help reduce your rabbit hole diving, how to use archives online and in person, other finding aids, a listing of online records available such as libraries, historical societies, etc. by state. It was a great presentation, and it is available online for a short while till August 6, for a fee, through the DGS at this registration link:

Hope your July has been fruitful for you, I look forward to chatting with you in August! If you have a website not everyone knows about with genealogy info, like your own tree or research, suggest your link to Cyndi. There's a link for that on her website. Remember, always a free to ask me to check out your brick wall, just shoot me an email with the scoop.

Thank you for stopping by again,

Leslie Ryan

No compensation is received for any of these referrals or links.

No copyright infringement is intended.

Thanks to the Bee Gee's for this week's blog title inspiration (How Deep Is Your Love?)


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