Google Book Search offers a way to help genealogists find online books and information to aid in their family history research.
If you choose to search All books you will be given a list of all books within Google’s book database, most of which only allow a limited view, that is a look at the first few pages or a chapter of the inside of the book.
If you change your search preference to Full view books, only books which give you full access to read their contents will be shown in the search results.
I entered in a full view book search for Genealogy to see what the results would turn out to be. I found some wonderful surprises.
The Genealogy of the Existing British Peerage: With Brief Sketches of the Family Histories of the Nobility is a 26 megabyte free downloadable PDF file that you can read with any PDF reader like Adobe Acrobat Reader or Fox It PDF Reader for Firefox. Or you can read it online through the Google built-in page viewer. The over 400 page book covers extensive information on British nobility by Edmund Lodge written in 1832.
Genealogy of the Descendants of Nathaniel Clarke of Newbury, Mass is another PDF file featuring 120 pages on the Clarke family of Massachusetts.
I also found The Works of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin and Jared Sparks (1840) which includes the origin and genealogy of his family, the Genealogy of the Child, Childs and Childe Families, of the Past and Present in the United States by Elias Child (1881) which contains information on the West family that might be relatives, The Clapp Memorial: Record of the Clapp Family in America by Ebenezer Clapp (1876), Letters and Papers of Governor John Henry of Maryland: Member of Continental Congress 1777-1788, and a very interesting Surname Book and Racial History: A Compilation and Arrangement of Genealogical and Historical by the Mormon Church published in 1918 documenting their research into the history of names from the Old Testament through to the present, including a chapter on the “Evolution of Surnames”.
I then started digging through Google Book Search for information on my own family history. For the Elwell family, I found a few possibilities, especially about the Elwell family in Maine, before some migrated west to pre-state Washington state to marry into the family of Chief Seattle and my family.
I found a few possibilities with the Anderson family in Norway, but most of that involves the history of immigration from Norway and Norway mythology, though I have some new information to dig through.
I also found a few reference that might help me with the Knapp and one possibility for the West family in the book on the genealogy of the Child Families, though searching for “west” in any search engine leads in a lot of directions but not always towards a last name.
Give Google Book Search a try and see what information you might dig up on your family. And if you are looking for more current books, this is another method to take a peek before you buy.
On a similar note, Google Scholar Search searches a database collection of scientific and research papers available online, and searching for “genealogy” turned up some fascinating articles and research information on DNA research and development, as well as genealogy research and history in general.
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