Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Mocavo – The Search Site for Genealogy debuted its search engine for genealogists this week. It works by limiting your searches to only genealogy websites on a specific list. This includes genealogy websites, genealogy bulletin boards, and the usual Find-A-Grave, Internet Archive, etc. (see the Mocavo home page for a list), and excludes all other websites. This makes it easier to limit your search to ONLY genealogy websites.

The caveat is that it is a limited search. Even though it is limited to genealogy websites, many popular sites I consider for searching are not included.

For example, I have several names I use for tests when I try a new website. These are the same names I use for or when I am looking for new additions to their data bases. The first name I always use is “Romanus Emerson”. He was my 4x Great Grandfather, and his name is unusual enough that hits are usually for him, or close relatives. If I Google his name the first few hits are for my own blog, here at Nutfield Genealogy, followed by, hits on Google Books, several eBooks, and a review of my own posts on Romanus Emerson by Kathleen Brandt at her own blog “a3Genealogy”, and the usual other genealogy websites, as well as Boston city documents such as their commissioner’s reports. There were many irrelevant and useless hits, also, when I used Google.

When I did the same search at Mocavo, I was surprised that my own blog and Kathleen Brandt’s blog did not pop up. Considering that Kathleen is a well known professional genealogist who has appeared on the TV series “Who do you think you are?” this was surprising to me. How difficult is it to link to the members of GeneaBloggers? The three websites that did come up were Genforum, FamilyTreeMaker, Internet Archive, and Rootsweb, and each of these was a perfect hit for genealogy information. It was a smaller list of results, but much more accurate results.

My initial conclusions:

1. This will be useful for tracing ancestry in the United States, and possibly elsewhere in the future.

2. This is useful as a limiter for common names, if you wish to “weed out” thousands of hits on other types of websites. If your ancestor has an unusual name, or if you have already searched the bulletin boards and book sites like Internet Archive you might want to stick to Google or Bing.

3. If you want to link to the thousands of possible GeneaBlogs out there, this is not the website for you.

4. There is a way at the bottom of the home page to add my own website, or my own favorite websites to their list of preferred genealogy websites, by clicking on “suggest a website”. I promptly added my own blog and Kathleen’s “a3Genealogy” to the link. I don’t know how long it will take to have it be part of the searches.

5. Currently Mocavo will not search out reference materials, city or town information, historical websites, town histories, images, social networking websites, online vital records databases, and some other databases and websites genealogists use on a regular basis.

6. If you already know the basics about an ancestor (birth, marriage, death, spouse, hometown) then you are ready to move beyond Mocavo to other types of searches to find historical, biographical and personal information.

As long as you understand how Mocavo works, and when to use it, Mocavo could be a useful tool for genealogy research. There are many caveats, and this website has just debuted, so I would stay tuned for possible tweaks to the content. Just for fun I Mocavoed the word Mocavo = Zero hits. When I Googled the word Mocavo = 39,000 hits.

For more information


My blog post last year on using Search engines:

A review by Dick Eastman on Mocavo

Copyright 2011, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. Hi,

    Thanks for the post on We don't currently index/search any blogs but that's coming very soon! We'd love to add your blog - thanks for submitting it. We have many more sites to add to the index - stay tuned.

  2. Thanks for this post. I tried out a search with my name, which is very unusual. I found some expected results, message board posts I had made, listings from the the Political Graveyard, and my Find-a-Grave listings. One big surprise: a raft of obituaries which listed my grand-uncle as the minister at the funeral of the individual. I was amazed, since I get very few results in Google searches, and interested to find that Find-a-Grave was so thoroughly indexed.

  3. Thanks for the tip on adding websites.

    One of my searches last night for my grandfather brought up his name in an obituary as the pallbearer. I hadn't run across this particular hit on Google previously. Nothing earth shattering but I was trying to identify friends, associates and relatives of my ancestor it could prove to be an invaluable clue.

    I'm checking back with Mocavo just as I do with Google.

  4. Wow...Thanks for doing a honest day's work. This is the best review yet, stripped of all the hype. I actually ignored the other reviews when I tested and got disappointing return. However, you have given a better perspective on when to use Mocavo.
    Plus...thanks for suggesting a3Genealogy to be added to the site.

  5. Heather, thanks for the hint about adding sites; I did not see that. I suggested my blog, and will suggest other websites and blogs as well.