Saturday, June 26, 2010

RESEARCH TIP: Digital Books

A reader recently reminded me of one of the most promising avenues for genealogy researchers - the digitizing of books and putting them online, often with no cost to access. Two of the best-funded of these digitization efforts are Google Books and the Texts section of Internet Archive.

Both of these projects are focusing a lot of their attention on older books, which are not as likely to be subject to any copyright issues. For genealogy researchers, that means they are digitizing of a lot of the county histories, directories and official government reports that can contain nuggets of information about our ancestors and the communities they lived in. Some of these books have even had OCR (Optical Character Recognition) done during the digitizing process, so that you can easily search the pages for a particular word or name.

Libraries around the globe are participating in these digitizing efforts, including the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne. Among the items of interest to Hendricks County researchers are copies of the 1885, 1895 and 1914 histories of the county, as well as the 1904 atlas.

Internet Archive also is adding copies of the censuses - the 1860, 1870, 1900, 1910 and 1930 Hendricks County population schedules are among the Indiana items I found in their collection. You have to browse through these censuses - OCR could not be done on them to make them searchable - but it's free!

1 comment:

  1. A good source for digital books is It provides links to over 15,000 books from 24 sources including google, library of congress, Internet Archive, and Making of American.

    It's organized by states, subjects and surname. Some states are more developed such as Mass, NY & Penn. It's also a good sources of civil war regimental histories.

    Check it out.