Frankie Meyer: Google Books serves as ‘information treasury’ for family history research | Lifestyles

Have you included Google Books in your family history search? The site, located at, is a treasure trove of information. Since the launch of the Google Books project in 2004, millions of books have been digitized and added to the database.

Some books were provided by publishers and authors, and some were obtained from the collections of universities around the world. Many books on Google Books are very old and rare.

A digitized copy of a book is free to read and download, if the book is not copyrighted and is considered to be in the public domain.

If not in the public domain, excerpts from a book can often be read on the site to determine if the book will be useful.

In addition to the scanned pages, several other details are listed for each book. Examples are the author’s name, publication date, publisher’s name, ISBN number, and a list of archives that have the book. After registering these details, contact your local librarian with the details and request interlibrary loan. (A small fee is charged for interlibrary loans.) Through the site, you can also find out where to buy a book.

To help searchers find useful books, the Google Book site offers a search box in which keywords are entered. For best results, enter very specific keywords.

Instead of entering “Fisher Family”, enter “Fisher Family of Camden County”. Instead of typing “Haddocks”, type “Haddocks of Missouri”. Instead of typing “Baptist Churches,” type “Missouri Baptist Churches.” To be more specific, enter “Roaring River Baptist Church”. Instead of entering “Roaring River” (there are hundreds of Roaring Rivers around the world), enter “Roaring River of Missouri”. Google Books then lists digitized books that include that topic.

When I entered “Haddocks of Roaring River” the site listed several resources. Among them was “Haddocks of Roaring River”, written by Diana Jean Muir and published in 2018. Another book listed was “Legends of the Haddock Family”, written by Orpha Vaughan Haddock and published in 1978. A third source is “Haddock Heritage,” written by Donna Cooper and published in 2018. In addition, the site lists several other books.

When I entered the keywords “Roaring River Missouri,” the site listed resources for learning more about the area’s early families. One of the books was “A Living History of the Ozarks”, written by Phyllis Rossiter and published in 2010. Another title that seems useful was “A History of the Baptists in Missouri”, written by RS Duncan and published in 1882.

After downloading a useful (i.e. public domain) resource, keywords can be entered again to narrow the search. When a keyword is entered, the site lists the number of times the keyword is mentioned in the book. Since the site lists the pages, searchers can click on each entry to read those parts of the book.


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