I just discovered this exciting thing a couple of weeks ago through a family history blog. I've used Google books before, in fact I even linked to it in one of my early posts, but never realized the great potential it had for family historians.
Google Books is a great way to view and preview books that are on the market today. But even better are the books that are out of copyright or are public domain. Those books are available in their entirety and some are even available for download. You are acutally able to view the book in it's original format but are able to do electronic searches within the pages of the book. There are a lot of local and family histories out there that were published eons ago and I am excited to say that there are a lot of them available on Google Books! The possibilites are amazing!
Google Books has it set up so you can flag a book and add it to your own "library". Just in a matter of hours I was able to build up my own library with a wealth of family history information. You are welcome to browse through what I found in my library at Google Books. Even if the book isn't available for full viewing it is great to know that it exists somewhere. Some of the books that I am most excited about that are my ancestors specifically are:
The Corwin Genealogy
Genealogy of the Bigelow Family of America
I've found it also to be a great place to find local histories written during the era my ancestors were actually living there. A lot of them have biographical sketches (though I haven't been lucky enough to find an ancestor that has one, yet).
History of Pike County, Ohio 1880
History of Detroit, 1912
A Guide to the City of Chicago, 1909
Using another tool by Google called a Notebook, you can highlight snippets of a text and save them seperate from the book into your notebook. You are also able to add notes and labels. This enables you to then go back and find the actual page from the book that pertains to your ancestor through your notebook.
You can also highlight a portion of a book and imbed it into your own post like this one about my great great great grandfather Chester Mathews Bigelow from the Bigelow Genealogy:
Genealogy of the Bigelow Family of America From the Marriage in 1642 of John Biglo and Mary Warren to the Year 1890 By Gilman Bigelow Howe
Through doing this I was also able to find a reference (though sadly not a sourced reference) to my ancestor Joshua Bigelow who served in the King Phillips War as I mentioned last week:
In all Google Books has made it rather simple to do a search on your ancestors through a plethera of different books available for full view or not. They have made it easy to search, read and share what you find.
Check it out!
Do a search on your own family.
Come up with any questions? Just leave me a comment and I'll see what I can do to help.