Use Google Books to Get Free Copies of Pages of Family History Library Books

November 4, 2013  - by 

Earlier this year, FamilySearch announced a free lookup service for genealogy books and microfilm available at the renowned Family History Library in Salt Lake City. The response was overwhelming, 1000s of people contacted us to take advantage of this free service. Another way to utilize this service is to start with limited preview Google Books and get us to scan the entire page and email it to you for free.

Here’s the online photoduplication request form.

Let’s walk through the process.

First, start on Google Books:

Search for the name of an ancestor:






Google has scanned millions of books that are both (1) out of copyright and (2) still under copyright. If you happen to find a book that is out of copyright, i.e. published before 1923, you’ll usually be able to read the entire book for free online and you do not need to use FamilySearch’s free lookup service. For books still under copyright, i.e. published since 1923, Google Books often provides a “snippet view” (see below).


You cannot see the entire book online, only a snippet. What do you do if you want to see the entire page, or several pages from the book? Our answer — use FamilySearch’s free lookup service.

If you find a reference to your ancestor in pages that cannot be viewed, make a note of the:

  1. Name of the Individual (as it appears in the book)
  2. Book Title
  3. Page Number(s)

Second, check the Family History Library Catalog to see if that book is available in our collection:


Make a note of the Call Number.


Third, if the book is available in our collection, complete our online Photoduplication Request form:


Within a short period of time, you’ll receive an email that includes a scanned copy of that page. Make up to five requests per person per week. Sit back in your recliner, put your feet up, and let us do the work for you.

Click here for a PDF version of this blog post you can print as a handout.

Nathan Murphy

Nathan W. Murphy, MA, AG is a United States and Canada Research Consultant at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. He specializes in Southern United States and English family trees.

Latest posts by Nathan Murphy (see all)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Es muy interesante. En mi caso, me gusta poder ver la página completa donde figura mi antepasado. Cómo debo hacer? Gracias.

    1. Bueno. Si encuentra un libro dentro de GoogleBooks que contiene algo escrito acerca de su antepasado, puede pedirnos una copia de la página por gratis si el libro esta disponible a la Biblioteca de Historia Familiar en Lago Salado, Estados Unidos. Para averiguar si tenemos el libro requirido, puede buscar en el catalogo disponible sobre nuestra pagina de web. Creo que tendrá que cumplir la forma de pedir en Ingles a este tiempo.

  2. The Library has a microfilm copy of a 39-page book (written in 1987) on a branch of my family. How can I obtain a scanned copy of the entire book (all 39 pages)?

  3. How do you get copies from a microfilm if you don’t know the names of the people? For example, my mother’s family is from Germany. I would like to be able to get copies of microfilm pages from the Catholic church in her hometown. The LDS church has this microfilm, but I don’t know the page numbers, etc. I would basically need a surname search for the town in the birth, death, and marriage records. Would it be better to just order the microfilm and view it at a FHC? Or, would the LDS so a surname search and send the copies from the microfilm to my email?

  4. The link to the online photoduplication request form is broken. Can you fix it? This is the message I get when I try to go there: “Unfortunately this survey has been closed. Thank you for your time.”
    I thought this service for microfilm was discontinued.