The following column appeared in print on April 16, 2016
More than 80,000 Genealogy Books to Search
Diane Lynn Tibert
I love books, and one day I dream of a library with an extensive collection. But I have accepted the fact I can’t own every desired book. Not only would I not have the space, but all books can’t be acquired.
When it comes to genealogy books, I have a few dozen (or more). I keep them for various reasons, but I don’t need a copy of every book my family is mentioned in. One name mentioned in a 300-page book does not warrant the need to purchase it if that page can be printed for safekeeping.
The arduous task is to find that one page among millions of other published pages, so information can be harvested and stored. Although some researchers can spend hours a day pouring over every book they find, I can’t. Thankfully, with digital and search technology, I don’t have to.
There are several searchable digital book sources online, but the one I discovered recently is Genealogy Gophers. The database contains more than 80,000 digital genealogy books. And it’s free.
The search fields for information include first name(s), last name, date or date-range, place and relatives’ names. If you know the name of the publication, you can also search for that. Searches can be made for subjects, such as census records, obituaries and city directories. The results appear as slim snapshots of their location in the books.
To my pleasant surprise, I found several mentions of the Tibert family that originally settled Nova Scotia. I also located books containing information for Thomas Appleby, the first of this line in Canada for my family tree. The treat is he is listed more than once.
Clicking on the snapshot of the digital image opens a second page where you can zoom in and scan the information. Thankfully, the keywords used in the search are highlighted in yellow to instantly draw your eyes to their location.
On this page, you have the option of downloading the PDF. It opens in a new screen. This is great if the person you’re looking for is mentioned more than once. Appleby is mentioned six times throughout the book, and I can refer to the previous screen to find the page numbers, then scan the PDF version. To move through the book faster, enter the page number you seek at the top. You’ll notice the page number stated in the search result does not correspond with the actual book page.
Once on the designated page, you can print that single page for your records. And you can read the information surrounding it to clarify the reference in the book if necessary. If the book proves to be a wealth of information for your family tree, you’re able to print the entire copy.
Although we may be led to believe if it is in a book, it’s factual, this is not true. There are errors in books just as there are errors in other sources. Although I would like to say you would find fewer errors in books, I can’t. The accuracy of the book depends on the author, the editor, the publisher and the sources they used. However, finding a piece of information you never had provides a starting point to verifying it and learning more.