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Using Google Books Search for Genealogy

Using Google Books Search for Genealogy

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Published by milesmeyer
This guide describes some of the ways Google Books can be used to enhance your genealogy research.
This guide describes some of the ways Google Books can be used to enhance your genealogy research.

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Published by: milesmeyer on Nov 01, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Using Google Books Search for Genealogy

Compiled by Miles Meyer, Jacksonville Florida East Stake
Many of us have used Google as a search engine to search for various topics including our relatives but Google has many more components than just the internet search engine. One of these components is the books search which can be found at http://books.google.com. In this lesson I will discuss the power of this search engine. Remember, due to the fluid nature of the internet, some of the things that I discuss may change when you begin searching the site.

Where Does Google Get the Books From? Google has a variety of sources for their books. Some of the newer books come directly from the publishers. These are generally limited to viewing only a few pages and are placed there to whet your appetite in the hopes that you will buy the book from one of the selected vendors. The older books come from the collections of a variety of libraries including: Bavarian State Library, Committee on Institutional Cooperation, Cornell University, Harvard University, Ghent University, Keio University, the National Library of Catalonia, New York Public Library, Oxford University, Princeton University, Stanford University, University of California, University of Complutense of Madrid, University of Lausanne, University of Michigan, University of Texas, University of Virginia, and the University of Wisconsin. Searching for Books Google Books allows you to search the full text of any books that Google has scanned into their collection. The search criteria are the same as you would use to search for web pages. For example, the following types of searches can be performed: Joseph Smith – This search will locate any books that have the words Joseph and Smith inside them. This may result in a large number of hits that may not be useful to you. You may end up with pages that have Joseph Miller and Clara Smith or any variety of results with these two words. (63,900 hits 9/16/2007) “Joseph Smith” – Placing words inside quotes limits the search to only pages where these words are in close proximity to each other. (4,327 hits 9/16/2007) “Joseph Smith” +Ohio – Using the “+” sign in the search will only result in books where Joseph Smith and Ohio are mentioned. This can allow you to reduce the number of hits to only those individuals that were present within a specific state, county, etc. (734 hits 9/16/2007)

“Joseph Smith” –Ohio – Placing the “-“ sign in the search will reduce the number of hits by removing those that reference that specific word. This specific search would eliminate all hits where Ohio was mentioned. (3,970 hits 9/16/2007) Using the Results

Above you see a typical list view of results. This shows a page of the text, the title, author and page number where a result is located and a brief description of the book. Additionally there are links to the books. Clicking on these links will open up a page view of that book. The search above lists all books that match your query. If you would only like to see those with full text then you would click on “Full view” in the upper blue bar. Books that are out of copyright will have Full View under the description. Those books that are still under copyright will say Limited Preview under the description. In the image above, all three books are listed as full view. This means that you will be able to read all of the pages in these books. The ones listed as limited view will only show a certain number of pages. Let’s look at the results in a little more detail. There is a link labeled “About this book” under each result. Clicking on this link gives you a huge amount of data about the book. The next few pages have screen shots of what this detail looks like. Here you will find a summary of the book and the key words. You can click on “Read This Book” or “Download PDF”. If you click on “Read This Book” you will be given a page by page view of the book that you can read on the computer. Each time your search term is located on a page it will be highlighted in yellow. The “Download PDF” button allows you to download the entire book to your computer in pdf format. You now have a permanent copy of this book to keep and read anytime you want. To the right of this screen you will see a list of several vendors that have this book for sale if you want to buy it. Additionally, below the vendors list is a link to search local libraries to see who has this book available for loan. Further down the list you will see a table of contents, selected page views, selected popular passages, a search feature and a list of web pages that reference this book. This can be very useful in furthering your research. Further down the page you will find a list of books that have references to your book, any additional editions that may have been published, any references in scholarly publications and related books. The final section of this page is a Google map with all of the locations referenced in the book marked. By clicking on one of the location markers you will be able to view a passage from the book referencing that location.

An Example Book Result Let’s say you are researching a small town in Ohio named New Bremen. This town is located in Auglaize County and is where many of your ancestors may have lived. One thing you might want to know is how the town got its name. You can enter the following search query: “New Bremen” “Auglaize County” Ohio. I received 150 matches on the day I did this search. The first book is titled The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. When I select this book I am sent to page 223 where it says: “New Bremen, village in Auglaize County, Ohio, named from the city in Germany”. If you notice in the image below, your search terms are highlighted in yellow.

Another result of the search is from the book The German Element in the United States. This result tells us that the area and surrounding villages were settled by Germans.

You can continue your search through these results and find a wealth of information. Copying Information from Books There are several ways to copy information from the books. One way that I have mentioned already is downloading the entire book. Another way is by taking screen shots like I did in this manual. Screen shots are done by clicking on the [Ctrl] key and [Prt Scrn] button and then pasting the image in your text editing program. A third way is by selecting the Select icon at the top of the screen and then selecting a portion of the page you want. As you can see below, the parts can be saved as images or text and then imported into your Google notebook.

Integration with Google Earth The book searches are also integrated with a mapping program called Google Earth. If you have Google Earth installed on your computer you can see maps and satellite images of locations all over the world. Once in the program, go to the left-side panel and check the box titled 'Featured Content' and select 'Google Book Search'. As you zoom in on the map, books icons will appear. Each icon represents an out-of-copyright book that references the location shown in Google Earth. The books are marked as yellow book icons. You can then select a book from here and view it. Clicking on the book icon will show you basic information about the book and a snippet of text where the place name appears.

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