Google Books

Google Books is an amazing family history research tool!  Are you using it? 

A number of my ancestor’s biographies have been found in books documenting the history of Bristol County, Taunton and surrounding towns in Massachusetts.  These books give a sense of the community and times in which my ancestor lived – the biography finds are a bonus!

 Most of the books in this database are no longer in print or commercially available.

You can find things like:

  • The 1774 “Census of the inhabitants of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence”
  • Diary of Samuel Sewall: 1699-1714 
  • The New England historical and genealogical register, Volume 75
  • The history of Malden, Massachusetts, 1633-1785

Books are being added daily, so I always re-check periodically.  I always used the advance book search:

If the book is out of copyright, you can view and download the entire book (otherwise there are links to online bookstores and library borrowing locations).

Even more exciting – if you find books that are of interest you can save them to your own “library” inside of google.  Then you can go back and search them over and over for more information as you add new members to your family tree.   Here are google’s instructions for setting up your own library (a 30 second project assuming you already have a free google account):

Matt Cutts gives some great tips in this video for adding your own personal book collection to your Google library.  You can then search the full text of the books on your bookshelf  (that Google has already scanned and converted to text using OCR, “Optical character recognition”) – cool stuff!

I discussed the OCR search technologies and it’s limitations in a prior post.  Here’s the link in case you missed it:

Wikipedia states that Google had scanned ten million books (as of October 2009) this certainly raises the odds that you’ll find your ancestors!!


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