Your family awaits

Wednesday, November 29, 2006 at 5:51 PM

At some point, we’ve all wondered about our ancestors. And with the advent of online genealogy sites, finding them in passenger lists, city directories, and the census has never been easier. Anyone with an internet connection can begin to fill in the names, dates, and places that made up their ancestors’ lives.

These facts, essential to any family tree, certainly provide a solid foundation. But building a story around those dates and places is the true challenge, and it often takes countless hours of diligent research, digging through dusty county histories, squinting at microfilm, and performing gymnastic maneuvers to reach hidden library shelves. To further complicate matters, these important materials are often held at only a few libraries in the world.

But, as many of us (including genealogy blogger Dick Eastman) have discovered, Google Book Search and its partners are making genealogy research a little bit easier, and often a lot more rewarding. By allowing you to search the full text of books, even a simple search on a last name or a place can yield exciting results, from books you may have never thought to look for.

For instance, a search for my ancestor John Carpenter of Jamaica, NY, lists Henry Onderdonk’s Queens County in Olden Times among the results, a public domain book held at only a few libraries in the US, but available in full view through Google Book Search. Another search brings up Flag: An American Biography, which contains the memories of his great-great-great-great-grandson and Civil War veteran Milton Scott Lytle as the 125th Pennsylvania Volunteers were sent off to war. Without Google Book Search, I may have never come across the wonderful stories in these books -- the former because of its rarity, and the latter because, well, why would I think to look for my relative in a book about the flag?

Whether you create family trees as a profession or a hobby, or even if you’re just a bit intrigued, Google Book Search is a great way to broaden your research and better understand the events that shaped your ancestors’ lives. And with our large and continually expanding selection of books, you never know who you may find in your family tree.

Here's another of our genealogical gems. We'd love to hear your story too!


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