Books, books and more books
The collection contains digitized publications from FamilySearch’s Family History Library and other libraries and historical societies, including:
- Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Ind.
- Brigham Young University Harold B. Lee Library in Provo, Utah
- Brigham Young University Idaho David O. McKay Library
- Brigham Young University Hawaii Joseph F. Smith Library
- Church History Library for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which FamilySearch is a branch
- Historical Society of Pennsylvania
- Houston Public Library’s Clayton Center for Genealogical Research in Texas
- Mid-Continent Public Library’s Midwest Genealogy Center in Independence, Mo.
- Onondaga County Public Library in Syracuse, NY
If you’re searching for a surname and a place, the simple search on the Family History Books home page will serve you well. This search looks for your search term(s) anywhere in a book or in its accompanying metadata (information from the book’s catalog entry, such as the title, author and item description). You also can use several search tricks:
- Enclose a phrase in quotation marks to find those exact words, in the order specified, in the book or metadata, as in “Nancy Josephine Barnes.”
- Use the Boolean term OR (it must be capitalized) to find variant names, such as Joe OR Joey OR Joseph Blackwell. The search will look for the word Blackwell plus any of the Joseph variants specified.
- Use NOT to exclude a word, for example, John Frost NOT Snow.
- Search with wildcards. An asterisk (*) will replace multiple characters, and a question mark (?) will replace a single character. For example, a search for the surname John*n finds publications with the name Johnson, Johnsen and Johnston.
The Advanced Search form lets you enter search terms in two fields. Each field has the following drop-down menus to let you select options to broaden or narrow your searches:
- Any: This menu lets you specify where in the books you want to find the search term. Options include Any (anywhere), Primary Subject (a subject assigned during the FHL’s cataloging process), a Periodical Title (unless you want to limit your results to periodicals, don’t use this selection), Full Text or Reviewed Materials (titles marked by the history department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—this won’t apply for most searchers).
- Contains: Choose whether you want your search term to appear in the publication exactly as you typed it (Is Exact), or whether your search term can be part of another phrase or sentence (Contains). The Is Exact option can be helpful for narrowing your search results, and does the same thing as using quotation marks in a simple search.
- AND: After each field is another dropdown menu that lets you apply the Boolean terms AND, OR or NOT. Use the dropdown menu after the first field; the one after the second field has no effect. “Honestly, I do not know why the second one exists,” Meldrum says.
If you choose AND after the first field, for example, your search will be for the first term and the second term in a publication. If you select OR, your search will be for one of the two terms you enter. If you select NOT, your search will be for the first term but not the second term.
- Material type: Below the search boxes, you can use this menu to look for a particular type of material: periodical/serial, gazetteer or book.
- Language: Specify whether you want items published in English, German, French, Hungarian or Spanish. This can be helpful when researching immigrant ancestors or those in their ancestral homelands.
Below the filters, don’t miss the links under Suggested New Searches. These links serve as shortcuts to finding works by the same authors or on the same subjects as those appearing in your results.
10 places to find published genealogies
Tips to find town histories
Podcast: Inside Google Book Search
Discover Digitized Genealogy Books video course
Published Genealogies independent study course download
How to Self-Publish Your Family History