Collecting Previous Research by Others Part Three: Digitized Books

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This article focuses on Digitized Books. See also:

Checking for previous research on your pedigree is an important step. It can save time, provide clues you might not otherwise find, help avoid duplication of effort, and help cooperation between families on research. Now, with the literal explosion of online sources, you can effectively survey online databases of what we call compiled genealogy, where the researcher has compiled original sources to present an opinion of how family groups and pedigree connections probably are most truthfully represented.

Evaluating Evidence to Determine Quality or Resolve Discrepancies

Keep in mind that every compiled genealogy you find is another researcher's opinion or interpretation of the documents he found about the family. Depending on the expertise of the researcher and the quality of available records, compiled research is subject to error. Indeed, you will frequently find disagreements between different versions of the family records you discover. You should carefully evaluate everything you find with both an open mind and a little skepticism. Here are some articles to train you to effectively evaluate the compiled research you will gather:

Digitized Books

There are two basic types of books to hunt for that contain compiled genealogies:

  • 1. Published Genealogies: There are many, many books published by family members who compiled the genealogical research they had done, organized it into indexed families, and had it printed.
  • 2. County Histories: Late in the 19th century and the early 20th century, some companies devised a history/money-making scheme. They wrote a history of a county and invited the residents of the county to submit biographies/genealogies of their ancestors who were early settlers of that county. They then had an automatic market for the book--the people who had contributed to it. So it is important to search these county histories for the genealogical material included in them. The FamilySearch or Family History Library is gradually digitizing its microfilm and printed records, as permission is granted from the authors of the records. Hopefully, this process will be completeed in 2020. Check back from time to time to see if new records are available.

Family History Books

To access this collection, click on "Search" at the top of this page and select "Books" from the drop-down menu. Search books.png

Family History Books is a collection of more than 325,000 digitized genealogy and family history publications from the archives of some of the most important family history libraries in the world. The collection includes family histories, county and local histories, genealogy magazines and how-to books, gazetteers, and medieval histories and pedigrees. The valuable resources included in Family History Books come from the following partner institutions: Allen County Public Library, Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records, Brigham Young University Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University Hawaii Joseph F. Smith Library, Brigham Young University Idaho David O. McKay Library, Church History Library, Family History Library, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Houston Public Library - Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research, Mid-Continent Public Library - Midwest Genealogy Center, Onondaga County Public Library, University of Florida, George A. Smathers Libraries.


1. Search by surname. If you receive a large number of hits, you can narrow the search by including a location in your keywords.


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Typical Results of a Surname Search
This is a small sample.
The actual list of hits is much longer.

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2. Search by locality. Search by county to find county histories with biographica/genealogical meterial.

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Typical Results of a Locality Search

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Other Digitized Books

Several efforts are underway to digitize older books no longer under copyright, and other copyrighted books with permission. Just like above, these three collections listed here should be searched both for published genealogies and for county histories with biographical/genealogical material.

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Each of the search fields below is a clickable link to the search page for the collection.

HathiTrust

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GoogleBooks

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InternetArchive

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