Using Google Books in Genealogy Research

I’ve written about Google Books in the past but a revisit is warranted given the recentgoogle_books updates to the site.  If you are used to cloud computing and storage on Google Docs, Amazon Kindle, Spotify and many other services, you’ll immediately grasp the new design of Google Books. 

In the past, Google Books only included scanned copies of published books that were usually out of copyright and were downloadable as .pdf files.  The new design is much like shopping in a store except that you don’t take a hard copy of a book home with you.  You just add it to your library.  The same wide variety of free books is still on the site but digital books are also listed for purchase.

Log in with your Google credentials, choose the free or books for sale that you want and they are saved in your personal online Google Books library.  I really enjoy having the books I’ve chosen in my personal reading room.  Now, I don’t have to remember the exact name of the genealogy resource book that I was reading last week and spend time searching for it again because it is already in my library and easily found with a quick browse.

I recently found a newly added book that includes all of the church birth, marriage and burial records for the Edwinstowe Parish in England from the early 1600’s through the late 1800’s.  Wow!  I’ve spent many hours in the Family History Library in Salt Lake cranking the handle on a microfilm reader looking for the records of my ancestors in Edwinstowe.  Each of these trips ended with me thinking I had copied all of the information needed for my family, only to realize later that the ‘new’ family members discovered in other research weren’t included in my earlier microfilm reading forays.  

Thus, I was missing primary source records for them and probably missed the names of other family members too because I didn’t know to look for them while the film was on the reader.

Now I can read the book from home and have already added a number of children to the family that I and other family researcher have missed over the years.  Their temple work is now completed.  I hope I’ve found all of the family members this time.

Of course, the vital records for all areas aren’t on the site, but there are resource materials that will help all of us find our family and learn about the social, historical and governmental events and organizations that existed during  their time on earth.   All of this information helps us find them in our continued ancestral quest.

If you haven’t included Google Books as one of the mainstays in your research quiver, add it now.  You’ll find that you are constantly thanking Google for the online existence of these treasures.


About Lee Drew

Family history research is a favored avenue of relaxation. It is a Sherlock-like activity that can continue almost anywhere at any time. By leveraging a lifetime involvement in technology, my research efforts have resulted in terabytes of ancestral data, earning me the moniker of Lineagekeeper. And yes - We are all related to Royalty.