Genealogy Guide to Searching for Ancestors in Online Books
Learn where to find digitized books and the best search strategies for finding genealogy information in them.
The late 19th and early 20th centuries were a golden age for genealogy books, with the publication of numerous family histories and county histories. Published genealogies typically begin with an immigrant and trace his ancestors in Europe and his descendants in America. County histories usually include profiles of early settlers and leading citizens, as well as information on churches, schools and businesses. It’s hard to imagine how authors managed to do extensive research without the Internet and to organize their genealogies without computers, but most of these books are quite accurate and well-written. You could find detailed biographies of your ancestors and extend your family tree back several generations.

Most family and local history books written 100 or 125 years ago were produced in small numbers. Printed copies are hard to find, but digitized versions of many of them are online—where, thanks to powerful search engines, you can search through thousands of books and find a name in an instant. You could learn important dates and places, details about your ancestors’ lives, and background on their hometowns. This guide will help you find and search the best online genealogy book collections for your family’s history.