Find the Dead

Years ago a gentleman moved to Centerville and was later called as the Bishop of the Centerville 1st Ward. Mom and Dad were visiting with him one evening, and Mom advised him that he should never say anything negative about anyone from Centerville to anyone else from Centerville because they were probably related. She was only half joking.

When Mom told me about that, I suggested that we start an AQ file of the people we know in Centerville, then trace their ancestry to see if we find any surprises. This was the origin of my Centerville.aq file. The resualt is that I have a file with very many people who all lived at one time in one general locality.

The file grew as I added the entire 1964 graduating class of my high school, and again as I added the names of all of the students in Centerville Elementary School class photos for myself and my siblings.

I have also found elementary school class photos for three of my uncles, my father and my mother, and I am adding the names of the students whom I recognize from those photos.

Eventually I will add those photos to the Memories section in FamilySearch.org for ONE identified deceased individual in each photo, and tag the other known deceased individuals as I find them. Suddenly families will discover school class photos of a recently deceased family member showing up in Memories. This may inspire them to tag other deceased class members whom they recognize. This could create the genealogical equivelant of “going viral.”

One problem with this scenario is finding which students are deceased. The first obvious answer is obituaries, but I want a quick and easy way to find those obituaries.

Back in 2013 I posted an article on AQWillDo about how to get to AQWillDo from inside AQ. The title is AQWillDo in AQ. It shows how you can use the Internet tab at the top of your AQ screen to access the AQWillDo blog. Here is the pull down menu I see when I click on Internet->Favorite Sites, and scroll down to the bottom of the menu:

If I highlight the AQ Will Do item in the menu then click the Connect button, AQ will instruct my browser to open the AQ Will Do blog. The next two items on the menu will search FindAGrave for the currently highlighted individual. It is the bottom two menu items I want to discuss here.

One of the quickest ways to find an obituary if you don’t know where it is located is to search for it with Google. For example, if I wanted to find the obituary for my father I would go to Google.com in my browser and enter: obituary Clyde McIntyre Utah. In this case I add Utah to the end of the search because my father died here in Utah. If I am unsure of the place of death, I enter: obituary Clyde McIntyre.

When I enter a search in Google, it converts that request to a search string. Here is the string which is produced when I search: obituary Clyde McIntyre.

When I search for: obituary Clyde McIntyre Utah, the search string produced is:

The first search is looking for three terms: obituary, Clyde and McIntyre. The rest of the search was created by Google, and I don’t know what all of it does, so I will not change it. The second search adds the term Utah to the search. If there is a high probibility that the death was in Utah, I would use the second search. If that fails or if I had no reason to suppose the death was in Utah, I would use the first search.

To tell AQ how to do a Google search I would start by copying that search string from the URL box in my browser. Then I would go to AQ and click the Internet tab and select the Favorite Sites menu item. This screen appears:

I am going to add an item to the My Favorite Web Sites menu, so I click on the Add button. This screen appears:

It looks like there is plenty of space to enter a Title, but look at the My Favorite Web Sites screen above and see the result of long names on the menu, and plan accordingly.

The URL box will contain the information AQ will pass to your browser. This information falls into two categories. The first is a Page URL. AQ will pass it directly to your browser. The second is a Search URL. AQ will attempt to place information from your currently selected AQ record into the URL before passing it on to the browser. To do this, AQ will scan the URL looking for codes preceded by %% and followed by %%. When AQ finds one of these codes, it will replace the code and the surrounding %%s with the requested information from your record. While it is possible to place a Death (Burial) Place into the URL, there is no way to use only the State name, so the name of the state, if used, must be hard coded into the URL. The same is true of the word obituary. It must be hard coded because it is not a part of your AQ file. These values are placed into the search string when you first go to your browser and perform a search so that Google will provide you with the correct search string.

In the example above where I searched Google for: obituary Clyde McIntyre, I copied the URL (search string) from that Google search and pasted it into the URL field on the Add/Edit Favorite Site screen. I clicked once on the URL and used the right arrow key to move to the location of the two values which could be found in my record in the AQ file. I replaced the word Clyde with the code %%FN%% (meaning First Name) and I replaced the word McIntyre with the code %%LN%% (meaning Last Name). I clicked the Search this site** box so that AQ would know that it needed to replace these codes with the first name and the Last name, respectively, from the currently selected record in my .aq file.

Note that in some cases, Google places search terms in more than one place in the search string. Be sure that you convert each search term in the search string the code representing it.

Now I can select a person in my file for whom there is no death information, click on the Internet tab, select the Favorite Sites menu item, scroll down and click on the Google Obit (Giv+Sur) item then click the Connect button.

My browser will fill the screen and present the result of my Google search. Here are the first five items returned on that search requested from within AQ:

Here are the first five items returned with the search from inside AQ with Utah hard coded in the URL:

If this is unclear, please leave a comment.

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