As mentioned above, Google has become a vital resource for genealogical research. Last week saw the launch of a new website designed to take the best features of Google and make them easier to use for genealogical research. Cliff Shaw, CEO and founder of Mocavo, has a long track record of creating valuable products for genealogists. The GenForum message boards (now available on Genealogy.com), GenCircles.com, and Family Tree Legends software are just some of his significant contributions to the field.
Mocavo.com is the world’s largest free genealogy search engine. It provides access to free genealogy content on the web. Mocavo indexes publicly accessible websites and sends searchers directly to the sites. It is a great way to do one-stop searching of websites like the Internet Archives, Find a Grave, state archives and historical societies, Ellis Island, and more.
The best thing about Mocavo is that it specifically targets genealogical websites, automatically removing extraneous results (like Facebook pages, etc.) that appear in Google searches. This function is extremely helpful, especially when researching a very common name. While there are times I wish to cast a wide net with a Google search, it is very nice to have a search engine that filters out all of that noise for me.
For the best results, put names in quotes. Mocavo will automatically search for instances of “firstname lastname,” “lastname, firstname,” and even “firstname middlename lastname.” You can do “or” searches (looking for this “or” that) by utilizing the pipe symbol |. The | is usually above the Enter key on an American computer keyboard. Similarly, you can omit certain words by using the minus sign (or dash).
While I found many results I have already seen on Google, I have been overjoyed to see the results limited to genealogy results only. In researching my book on the descendants of Josiah Franklin, I’m sure you can imagine how many non-genealogical sites make mention of Benjamin Franklin!
The site is currently very centered on North American materials, but this is starting to change. Materials from GenUKI are available, and the Ireland Genealogy Project just announced that their materials will soon be indexed and available through Mocavo.
Mocavo is always looking for new information to index, and users can suggest websites for the site to index. Everything from large archives and websites to individual family blogs have been indexed, bringing additional traffic to many sites. Unfortunately, a few groups, such as USGenWeb, have restricted access to Mocavo’s indexing, and these materials are unavailable. While it is understandable why groups with gated access (such as Ancestry.com, AmericanAncestors.org, and FamilySearch.org) have not been indexed, it is difficult to understand that those with free and open accessibility would not want to provide greater access to their materials. Mocavo is totally free for users, and does not pretend to own any of the content; it only makes it easier for users to find information. Even more perplexing is that USGenWeb, for example, while precluding access from Mocavo, freely allows Google’s indexer to crawl the site and bring users in. One would think that they would want more genealogy-specific users to find them.
Mocavo.com is an excellent addition to the genealogical researcher’s toolkit. I’m certain it will only become increasingly valuable (and popular) as more sites are indexed and users discover how tremendously useful this resource is.