November 28, 2014

Google Book Search – A Genealogist’s Dream Come True

Imagine that you have always wanted to find more information about one of your ancestors, but you had neither the resources, time, or any idea on earth where to find it. Imagine too, that you knew of a book or author who had written about your family member, but you had no idea where to start to look for said book.

Have you considered looking in Google Book Search? As a little exercise in discovery, today I did a cursory search in the database for books about Rose Farm, my cousin William Livingston Holmes’ home that was built by him circa 1847 in Oregon City, OR. What came back is astounding: Books 110 of 1,041 on rose farm Oregon. (0.05 seconds). That doesn’t mean that every one of those books has the exact information I am looking for, but my chances are pretty darn good that there will be at least a few that contain additional information that I might not have already.

One of the things I like about the Google Book Search too, is that if you do find a book you would like to refer to later, you can add it to your ‘library’ and come back to it later. In addition, you can also click on handy links to find the book in a library, or buy it outright from a site like Amazon or Alibris.

The goal for Google, from before its implimentation, has always been to make information available to the world.  What had kept them from doing that with books had been the threat of lawsuits and copyright complications. Just this week though, on October 28th, they have reached an agreement with a large group of authors and publishers to grant digital access to millions of in-copyright books. Not only does it make access to these books available, but it also opens a new market for those authors and publishers to sell their work. Rather than me telling you all about it here, please read New Chapter for Google Book Search on their blog.

I wonder if they will eventually take self-published genealogy and family tree books? ;) Not so much for the monetization, but just for the sheer ability to share our research with other potential family members!  Yes, I know we can do that alread in limited ways, but to be able to share it with the whole world…priceless!


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