Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Google Books - An Invaluable Tool

Google Books is a complete treasure trove for any genealogist. I found Google Books over a year ago when I was doing a regular Google search on an ancestor from Massachusetts. One of the first results popped up, and I noticed it was a book title from Google Books. In seconds, I was viewing the full text of the Vital Records of Hull, Massachusetts to the Year 1850.

OF HULL MASSACHUSETTS TO THE YEAR 1850 VITAL RECORDS

This book was an alphabetical index to names from the town records and church records of Hull. I was even able to download the full PDF onto my computer. From this one search, I gleaned hundreds of my earliest American ancestors' names and vital record dates.

So, what is Google Books, and how does it work? Well, Google Books is Google's book search tool. It is still in beta mode, but there are thousands of titles available and more being added all of the time. Books that are out of copyright or the publisher has given permission to Google to include will have a book preview or even the full text available. For many older genealogical titles that are out of copyright and out of print, this is a godsend to family history researchers everywhere.

You can search for old published genealogical records, land records, church records, vital records indexes, and anything else that might be included in their collection of titles. Once you've found a book, you can use the handy search box on the right side of the book viewer to find specific surnames or places among the pages. I have been able to download the full PDF to my computer for many of the genealogical books that I've found. For books that are still under copyright or not yet scanned into Google Books, there will be links to find the book at a library or buy the book from an online bookseller.

I really cannot say enough good about this offering from Google. It's a wealth of information right at our fingertips. We don't even have to sit among the dark and dusty stacks of a library to get a whole plethora of valuable research! Check out Google Books here. Thank you, Google!