Bookworm Genealogy: How to Find Digitized Books on

By Diane Haddad

Census and vital records are important for family researchers, but resources originally published in book form can be incredibly valuable for genealogists willing to dig for them. Guest writer and author of the Unofficial Guide to Dana McCullough shares her thoughts about searching for digitized books:

Numerous books compiling town, county, and church vital records have been published over the years—and they are increasingly being digitized. You can search about 150,000 of these digitized genealogies, family histories, county and local histories, genealogy periodicals, gazetteers, and school yearbooks through the FamilySearch Books collection.

When searching for digital books on, make use of the Advanced Search form (see image above) and with these four helpful strategies:

  • Start broadly. It’s usually best to start your search broadly, then narrow if you get too many results so you don’t miss out on relevant resources.
  • Try different search terms. Enter any word or phrase as a search term. Try searching for a surname only, or a surname and a location where an ancestor lived to find genealogies. Experiment with spelling variations of surnames or search for a location to find local and county histories.
  • Use wildcards. The same wildcards that work for searching Historical Records collections work for Family History Books. An asterisk (*) will replace multiple characters, and a question mark (?) will replace a single character. See an August 25, 2015, post on wildcard searches for more.
  • Refine search results. Currently, there are limited ways to refine your results, but that could change as and its search capabilities evolve. To the left of the search results, you’ll see a column with several options. Click the down arrow next to a category to check the appropriate boxes to narrow your search.

Learn more about digitized books and other records on in the Unofficial Guide to